Hip-Hop Hogwash In The Schools

Yo, yo, yo. The
Los Angeles Times reports this week that teachers
across the country are using rap music to “make classical
literature relevant.”

When I was in
school, we studied the major conflicts of “Man vs.
Self,” “Man vs. Nature,” and “Man vs. Society” by
reading Shakespeare,

, and

. We copied famous quotations in our marble
composition notebooks, memorized verses and soliloquies
that have stood the test of time, and immersed ourselves
in the creative genius of men and women who lived and
loved centuries before us.

But universal
themes and great books, which have challenged, enriched,
and inspired generations of students around the world,
no longer hold sway in the modern academy.

At Crenshaw High
School, the major conflict being studied is “Man vs.
Ho.” The revered bard is dead rapper Tupac Shakur.
reporter Erika Hayasaki enthusiastically
describes how English teacher Patrick Camangian got his
students talking about the “lyrics” by the late Shakur
from an uplifting opus titled

“Shorty Wanna Be a Thug:"
Blaze up, gettin` with
hos through my pager.

Reports Hayasaki:
“A lively discussion ensued about sexism, racism and
how degrading terms such as "ho" — slang for "whore" —
can be used to dehumanize and divide people. In hip-hop
terms, the students were feelin` it.”

[Reading, `Riting
and Rap,
By Erika Hayasaki,

LA Times
Jan 14, 2003.]

It`s bad enough that the

demented scribblings of various hoodlums
are being
peddled in public high schools as literature. Even worse
are the “academic” courses being taught in elite

Here`s a recent
syllabus I found on the Internet from Dr. Jeffrey O. G.
Ogbar, who teaches at the University of Connecticut`s
Department of History. The course:

“Hip-Hop: Politics and Popular Culture in Late 20th
Century United States.”
Among the educational
objectives: “to discuss, at a college-level
proficiency, the contributions of various artists on
hip-hop and the significance of the art form in the
United States and abroad.”

One unit on
“development and evolution” focuses on “breaking,
popping, graffiti, [and] colloquialisms, with an
emphasis on the great minds of

“Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five,

Kurtis Blow,

Afrika Bambaattaa
.” Another penetrating unit is
devoted to hip-hop`s nouveau riche, and lectures on such
important historical figures in rap history as ”
Black Star,

Puff Daddy
, The Roots,

Cash Money Millionaires
, [and] Jay-Z.”

Dr. Ogbar is no
softie, however. Students must produce a “creative
writing paper” that develops a 200-250 word rhyme. He
provides a helpful example and analysis:

MCs think I`m
like an artery because I bring the flow,
but I`m really just vain so in case you don`t know,
I put out wack MCs like yo momma put out the booty
You think you a big baller, but you the smallest like Rudy…

Dr. Ogbar
expounds on the

“use of simile to insult the opponent
by comparing him/her to the smallest child, Rudy, on the
popular 80s sitcom `The Cosby Show.` It can also refer
to Rudy, the popular 1993 movie about a small football
player, thereby offering a double entendre with
idiomatic slang `baller` (an athlete; also used in
reference to someone with wealth and power). The final
multi-layered reference is to the smallest character of
the 1970s cartoon, `
This affirms the humiliation of the
opponent and offers a witty popular culture reference.”

Another syllabus I found for an
Afro-American Studies course at Harvard University,

“Hiphop America: Power, Politics and the Word,”

introduces young scholars to the “Hiphop ideology:
Representin`, Comin` Correct, and Keepin` It Real.”

And at

Pennsylvania State University,
I discovered,
students were required to attend a “Mos Def Concert” and
write “a page concerning Hip Hop Literacies that you
observe at the performance.” Also mandatory: in-class
listening sessions of “old school rap” and
in-class “viewing of various female rapper`s (sic)

Welcome to the
morass of self-absorbed

, where urban “relevance” is the
be-all and end-all of the intellectual experience. Where
teachers are listening partners, rather than imparters
of knowledge. Where Fat Albert and

Prince Hamlet
are equals. Where education has been
reduced to the false art of “feelin` it” and
“keepin` it real.”

Demonstrating why I majored in English, not mathematics,
I reported

last week
that Washington Teachers Union members pay
roughly $700 per month in dues. They pay roughly $700
per year.

Michelle Malkin is author of

Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists,
Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores

Click here
for Peter Brimelow`s review.
Click here
for Michelle Malkin`s website.