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From Black Power to Hip Hop: Discussing Race, Policing, and the Fourth Amendment Through the "War On" Paradigm
Iowa Journal of Gender, Race, and Justice (2012)
  • Donald F. Tibbs
Our near obsessive praising of the long (gone) Civil Rights Movement, and our over reliance on the legal victories in Brown v. Board of Education and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, has left a considerable void in reconciling The Fallout Of Declaring War On Social Issues within American law and order. In essence the protest politics that were the hallmark of the civil rights and black power eras have, in some instances waned, in others disappeared. The diffusion of black liberation struggles and the embrace of colorblindness as a normative approach to “fixing” Americas’ social issues has allowed the state to not only regain its power over the human spirit, but also reclaim its power over re-producing a political, social, and legal anti-Black agenda. In the end, the protest politics that were the hallmark of the Black Power Era have disappeared from the American social and political dialog, leaving the intersection of race and American legal consciousness seriously disjointed. This article, titled From Black Power to Gangsta Rap: Race and Legal Consciousness in the Post-Civil Rights Era, is a serious critique of what we can learn about the fallout of declaring “War On” American social issues through Hip Hop music. What began more than twenty years ago as a means for social critique has morphed into a billion dollar industry spanning the American globe. While some argue that Hip Hop has lost its way from its twilight beginnings, where socially conscious rhymes were more common than the braggadocios rhymes that we hear today, this article takes a different path. It argues that Gangsta Rap’s real talent, its real branding, is its ability to affect legal consciousness and teach law to a generation of youth most affected by America’s war on drugs and crime: the sons and daughters of the Black Power generation. In other words, Gangsta Rap’s voice, which is arguably one of the least respected art forms in American legal culture, has always, and perhaps always will, be a source of social critique. Most importantly, it is one of the most prolific artistic mediums for critiquing America’s love affair with the “War On” (drugs, crime, terror) paradigm. It critiques America’s failure to uphold constitutional ideals of justice and equality and her reproduction of the long history of Black suffering inside and outside American law. Missing that point has left Hip Hop misunderstood, misquoted, and misused in American society.
Publication Date
Spring 2012
Citation Information
Donald F. Tibbs. "From Black Power to Hip Hop: Discussing Race, Policing, and the Fourth Amendment Through the "War On" Paradigm" Iowa Journal of Gender, Race, and Justice Vol. 15 (2012)
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