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Moving Hip Hop : : Corporeal Performance and the Struggle Over Black Masculinity


This dissertation is the study of hip hop dance and hip hop performances. In a society where Black men are racially profiled, policed, and incarcerated at disproportionate rates than whites, hip hop becomes a scapegoat for society's promotion of violence, drug use, and misogyny. Hip hop is a positive force among the younger generation, but at the same time it often reifies stereotypes of race, class, gender, and sexuality. I critically analyze Will Power's The Seven (hip hop theatre), Rennie Harris' Rome & Jewels (hip hop concert dance), Step Up 2 : The Streets, and Planet B-boy (hip hop films). By examining these hip hop performances we can see how some are deeply engaged in race, gender, and class constructions, entangling them in the definitive racial justice issues of today and how some reproduce race and gender violence. This is important because in today's "colorblind" society, race appears to not matter, yet race disparities persist and anti-black stereotypes (black men as criminals, violent, and hyper-sexual) live on. We will see that hip hop performance, like other popular cultural forms, has a tremendous influence and pedagogical power regarding whether we perpetuate or disrupt racial constructions. This study contributes to scholarly discussions of hip hop performances and how hip hop dance through the representation of the body is a means to understanding black masculinity

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