Dr. Andreana Clay, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at San Francisco State University and author of The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back: Youth Activism and Post-Civil Rights Politics, analyzed the methods in which urban youth of color organize as activists to address social injustices in the modern era at her lecture,“‘Hell You Talmbout?’: Black Lives, Black Resistance and Hip-Hop”, on Tuesday night.
The lecture was the first of three in this year’s New Directions Lecture Series that is sponsored by the African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) program. C. Shawn McGuffey, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Sociology and African and African Diaspora Studies at Boston College, is the organizer of this year’s series. He chose the theme “Black Resistance” to focus on the stand against Black subjugation considering the tragic incidents of police brutality and systemic racism within our country today.
The later speakers in the series will include religious scholars, political scientists, and public intellectuals with talks entitled "Imagining Black Resistance in the House that Slavery Built" and "'This Could Be You': Confronting the Specter of Racial Violence in Postwar New York and London".
As for his motivation for selecting Dr. Clay as the first speaker, McGuffey notes, “I wanted to bring her in because she is an excellent scholar who takes the perspectives of young urban people seriously and is inclusive of youth of various socio-economic statuses, gender, race, and sexual identities. She truly takes an intersectional approach.”
“Although many characterize today’s youth as dispirited, unconcerned, or disorganized, Dr. Clay rightly underscores the ways in which youth are working towards social justice—even if those ways may be unrecognizable to, or unappreciated by, older generations,” observes McGuffey. “I hope students, faculty, and administrators that attend will understand how youth engagement is multi-faceted. We need to think of creative and innovative ways to work with youth productively if we want to eradicate racism and other social injustices.”
During the lecture, Dr. Clay discussed how the leaders in youth activism and hip-hop today want to change the representation of advocacy in Black social movements to include female, queer, and transgender communities. In fact, she explained how the transition of hip-hop leaders from charismatic black men, such as Soul Boots Riley and Kendrick Lamar, to influential feminists like Beyoncé, should move forward by including the vast number of queer and transgender Black activists who are not as represented in hip-hop.
Her insights have expanded understandings of social movements, popular culture, race relations, and youth culture as a whole. “This lecture gave me an appreciation for the increasing and ever-changing role of women and queer people in the Black Lives [Matter] Movement," reflected audience member Colin Troughton, MCAS '20, after the presentation. "I’m looking forward to seeing how this will move forward in music.”
“Adults often look down upon hip-hop in particular and pop culture in general. We need to see how we can employ these genres for social good," remarks McGuffey. "For instance, I hope folks leave this talk and think: How can we use hip-hop or popular culture to eradicate racism at Boston College? How can we engage young people in meaningful ways that can help us talk about and address the recent homophobic display at Boston College?”
He continues, “In short, I want people to leave this talk and think about how can we make our communities more just and humane, both at Boston College and in the world.”