Why White Kids Love Hip-hop

Why White Kids Love Hip-hop

Wankstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, and the New Reality of Race in America

Book - 2005
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Our national conversation about race is ludicrously out-of-date. Hip-hop is the key to understanding how things are changing. In a provocative book that will appeal to hip-hoppers both black and white and their parents, Bakari Kitwana deftly teases apart the culture of hip-hop to illuminate how race is being lived by young Americans. This topic is ripe, but untried, and Kitwana poses and answers a plethora of questions: Does hip-hop belong to black kids? What in hip-hop appeals to white youth? Is hip-hop different from what rhythm, blues, jazz, and even rock 'n' roll meant to previous generations? How have mass media and consumer culture made hip-hop a unique phenomenon? What does class have to do with it? Are white kids really hip-hop's primary listening audience? How do young Americans think about race, and how has hip-hop influenced their perspective? Are young Americans achieving Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream through hip-hop? Kitwana addresses uncomfortable truths about America's level of comfort with black people, challenging preconceived notions of race. With this brave tour de force, Bakari Kitwana takes his place alongside the greatest African American intellectuals of the past decades.
Publisher: New York : Basic Civitas Books, c2005
ISBN: 9780465037469
Characteristics: xvii, 222 p. ; 22 cm


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Aug 01, 2010

Bakari Kitwana was, at one point, a writer for The Source. As others have pointed out before me, this book is not solely about white kids and hip-hop. Rather this book is a collection of Kitwana's essays around hip hop in popular culture today and the implications of its influence.

To answer the question of the title, white kids love hip-hop, in Kitwana's opinion, because they have moved beyond the racial definitions of their parents. Their world is more multi-cultural than those that have come before. It is Dr. King's vision realized. He also feels that the white youth of America have far more in common with the black youth, unemployment, sub-standard education and poverty, than they do with their parents.

Perhaps the most interesting essay in the book is the one that looks at the ongoing war against Eminem lead by Benzino and Mays, the founders and publishers of The Source and Kitwana's former employers. While he does not condone the racist lyrics that Eminem was being attacked fore, Kitwana certainly sees selfish and jealous motives as the source of his former employers fury. Given his job history, Kitwana has an interesting point of view on the issue. And an interesting bias, that he does not really do much address.

This is a good collection of essays, although the last one on the political influence of hip-hop is a little dated given that it was written before Obama's election.


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