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Instructing the Energy and Affect of Black Musical Expression

By Jenna Moniz, Educator from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Final month’s inauguration ushered in what appears like a brand new period. And as a black lady who additionally graduated from Howard College like our new Vice President, Kamala Harris, I’m overjoyed and so very proud. I’m additionally renewed with hope for this new alternative to have the centuries-old dialog in regards to the division that may start to heal this polarized nation and world. On Day One, this new management kicked within the door and welcomed in range and excellence. And it launched the world to the reality about girls like me. Lastly!

So, when younger Amanda Gorman graced the stage together with her smart and awe-inspiring mind, poise, articulation, swag, and conscious-shifting call-to-action, thousands and thousands of viewers went berserk about how she stole the present. My guess is that many sistas and sorors, nonetheless, exchanged eye contact that silently mentioned, “Hello? This is the Black Girl Magic we’ve been talking about for… ever.

It took close to 300 years, a global crisis, national devastation, and the inauguration of a black woman vice president to provide a platform for the rest of the world to hear our poetry that speaks from and to our souls. A music we have always known. From plantation hymn to Howard Homecomings. It’s what we do. Just. Like. Magic.

And while the mainstream music industry too often hands microphones, stages, and million-dollar contracts to people who do not respect the deep origins of the music they perform, there are millions of unseen brilliant black musicians who refuse to sell their souls for their art.

Once upon a time, when rap was still a bourgeoning genre, it served as a clean canvas where young black and brown voices could express infinite creativity. Hip hop was an innovative and uniquely American space that became the playground for our imaginations. Where lyrical acrobatics told our stories. It was our space for unity and play. For social awareness and empowerment. For connection and healing. And it was ours to explore.

Until it was exploited.

Let me be clear. This is not about cultural appropriation. What I am naming here is far more insidious. This is about the hijacking and weaponizing of an entire art form for both profit and oppression.

I teach about the brain and how it is physically changed by strong images and words in a process called neuroplasticity. The catchier the lyrics of a tune, the easier they are to remember. The more the message gets repeated, the stronger the imprint on the brain and the easier it is to slip into our subconscious minds — our hard wiring. Think about it. How many childhood nursery rhymes could you sing along to if you heard them today?

Well, Trap rap follows the same elementary template: simplistic melodies with memorable lyrics for easy stamping into our neural wiring. The message is designed to stick.

Now, I’m no spring chicken but I love the energy and creativity of young people. That’s why I work with them. But, I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one horrified by the lyrics and images portrayed by black women in the hip hop arena today. Megan thee Stallion, Cardi B, and Cash Doll are just a couple of examples of oversexualized black women marketed and sold to the masses.

It’s so sad that our clever tongue-twisting rap has been traded in for materialism and gymnastics of women’s bodies.

Stay with me, because I can already hear the clap back: that “this is women’s empowerment” and girls must be free to precise themselves nonetheless they need. Certain. However, at what price?

This is similar argument they used on the Lil Kims again within the ’90s when hip hop grew to become a money cow — and a key participant in mainstream programming. However program it’s: subliminal messages leaked into our unconscious minds to regularly dehumanize black girls. It’s no completely different from the “three-fifths of a person” program that white colonizers used to justify slavery. The one means they may justify treating black folks like objects for revenue and pleasure was by denying that we had been totally and equally human.

It’s time to demand higher of the music trade. And of media. And of black artists who’re idolized by so many younger impressionable minds.

As an expert black lady and instructor who is aware of the potential of the Phrase to propel a motion ahead and form our minds and our futures, I have fun the clearing of the stage for the younger Amandas of right this moment — to allow them to grow to be the highly effective Kamalas of tomorrow.

My college students are inspired to precise themselves by way of music, poetry, and motion. We learn the way music impacts our brains and our bodies by way of its message, frequency, and resonance. We be taught in regards to the harmonic math discovered all through nature and about sounds that both heal the physique or trigger dissonance and illness. By way of experiments together with Chladni’s the place college students watch how music modifications constructions together with human cells, college students are in a position to see earlier than their very own eyes music’s energy to both assemble or destroy matter.

Since my faculty’s tutorial mannequin is interdisciplinary, we draw connections to civic duty and in the end the Constitutional rights of the artists, the trade, and the listeners alike. My college students have plenty of questions that they grapple with.

“How is it legal to play music to minors that we can prove is damaging to our brains and bodies?” is a query that I can not reply but in addition wish to resolve.

This dialog, after all, grows legs as it may possibly result in heated discussions in regards to the impression of violent video video games and extra.

We encourage college students to proceed to ask these onerous questions and to work collectively to provide you with progressive options. However they can’t do it alone.

One thing tells me although, as I watch and hearken to the fervour and brilliance breaking by way of in our younger folks, that that is the era that can reclaim its future. One factor is for positive, this black lady may have their again 100% of the best way!



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