ruth nicole brown

Wish to Live.: The Hip-hop Feminism Pedagogy Reader (Educational Psychology: Critical Pedagogical Perspectives)

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 edited by Ruth Nicole Brown and Chamara Jewel Kwakye

Wish To Live: The Hip-hop Feminism Pedagogy Reader moves beyond the traditional understanding of the four elements of hip-hop culture - rapping, breakdancing, graffiti art, and deejaying - to articulate how hip-hop feminist scholarship can inform educational practices and spark, transform, encourage, and sustain local and global youth community activism efforts. This multi-genre and interdisciplinary reader engages performance, poetry, document analysis, playwriting, polemics, cultural critique, and autobiography to radically reimagine the political utility of hip-hop-informed social justice efforts that insist on an accountable analysis of identity and culture.

Featuring scholarship from professors and graduate and undergraduate students actively involved in the work they profess, this book’s commitment to making the practice of hip-hop feminist activism practical in our everyday lives is both compelling and unapologetic. [book link

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The first rule of SOLHOT [founded by Ruth Nicole Brown], a program rooted in hip-hop feminist methodology and praxis, demands that grown-ups not tell Black girls to quiet down. Recognizing the importance of hearing Black girls’ voices and silences, Brown compels educators and those working with Black girls to consider the racist/sexist framing of Black girls as too loud and to experience Black girls’ unique voices and articulations.
—   Lindsey, Treva B. “Let Me Blow Your Mind Hip Hop Feminist Futures in Theory and Praxis.” Urban Education 50, no. 1 (January 1, 2015): 52–77. doi:10.1177/0042085914563184.

A tribute written by Prof. Mimi Thi Nguyen for Profs. Ruth Nicole Brown and Chamara Jewel Kwakye on the publication of their collection, Wish to Live: A Hip Hop Feminism Pedagogy Reader (Peter Lang, 2012), and read at the book party held December 11, 2012, at the Urbana Civic Center:

Thank you so much for inviting me to offer to Ruth Nicole and Chamara some words to honor their labor in this collection, in SOLHOT, in the world. Through their creative, intellectual labors, and the labors of others they gather close to make “community,” we find ample examples through which hip hop feminisms might radiate life, direct vital movement, infuse each part of the body with consciousness, and allow one to relate to the world with an instinctual immediacy for the, yes, wish to live.

Hip hop feminisms thus have a lot to teach us about how to imagine other ways of being and knowing in the world. While hip hop feminisms can and do relate the fullness of slow violence and the urgency of our present crisis, hip hop feminisms also pinpoint the failures of our existing structures for making sense of them, including the academy, the so-called criminal justice system, and other apparatuses of the state. Hip hop feminisms write the physicality – voice, touch, resonance, the gesture of pushing against capture by another, the posture of leaning in to listen, or to hold closer— that exceeds the languages of the disciplines, the forces of so-called rational argumentation that would expel such physicality from the labor of theory, as though theory was not itself devised, and operationalized, upon our bodies, our labors. Hip hop feminisms (alongside other women of color feminisms, postcolonial feminisms, womanisms) disrupt the flows that capture women of color as objects of inquiry for knowledge’s sphere of intervention and power’s field of control, to create instead knowledge without the exercise of undue power. Hip hop feminisms are thus constantly moving, recounting the metamorphosis of words, the tempo of knowledges, changing these metamorphoses and tempos in order to record those changes as a radical storytelling, story-in-the-making, capable of saving our lives, hearing our truths.

I want to end here with some words from Trinh T. Minh-Ha, from an 1989 essay called “Commitment from the Mirror-Writing Box,” about the forces that pursue the woman of color writer, that aim to catch her in a trap of words not of her own choosing, about the woman of color writer who seeks a way out of the trap, for herself and those who go with her:

 “So where do you go from here? Where do I go? And where does a committed woman writer go? Finding a voice, searching for words and sentences: say some thing, one thing, or no thing; tie/untie, read/unread, discard their forms; scrutinize the grammatical habits of your writing and decide for yourself whether they free or repress…. Shake syntax, smash the myths, and if you lose, slide on, unearth some new paths. Do you surprise? Do you shock? Do you have a choice?”

 Let’s raise our voices then to all those who are committed to shake, smash, slide on, surprise and shock, because they have no other choice.