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Hip Hop and the Holocaust

HCRL's picture

I really enjoyed all of this week's readings, and found them to be very thought provoking. Reading Hill's Hip Hop article was especially interesting given the connections between the article and the panelist, Jay Fluellen. Something that Mr. Fluellen mentioned in class was how he tried to tailor his curriculum to his students, so when he went to a school with a big Latin@ community he used Hispanic music. Similarly, Hill talks about his class on hip hop that had a majority black student population, and how all the students (Black, Black but not "real", and non-Black) felt that the class was geared towards Black students. Both of these stories raise the question of how it is possible to create a classroom environment where each person feels as if it is a learning space geared towards them. Black students in Hill's classroom recognized that their other classes were "defacto White spaces," but that Hill's classroom was different (53). Thus the Black students felt more comfortable to participate and not compelled speak using "White" lanaguage. On the other hand, the White students felt like they could not fully participate because the experiences discussed in hip hop were not their experiences. While it was definiely good that Hill gave his Black students a space to feel like the classroom was their own, some students were still being excluded. I wonder whether a fully neutral, or rather fully accesible class can be created for all students across races, cultures, abilities, socio-economic statuses, etc. I wanted to ask Mr. Fluellen this question, but unfortunately there was not enough time.

I think the Pinkert reading might offer an answer to this question, because the authors manage to use the Holocaust as a powerful educational tool for men in prison who were statistically likely to not be Jewish (although they might have identified with other groups that were persectued during WW II, but that wasn't the focus). I am not sure if this would be possible in every setting, but it seems the answer is finding an event/time in history, topic of a song, etc. that might directly apply to one group, but also indirectly apply to others. The potential problem with this that I see is that it is likely really difficult to find a situation to which every single student can relate. This is definitely something I will be thinking about and grappling with as I complete the curriculum project.