My interest in hip hop began back in junior high, when I first began to be consciously aware of race - others and my own. Listening to music that was largely produced by Black people was one way for me, a young White girl, to comfortably explore one small aspect of a culture with which I had little interaction and of which I had little knowledge. By the time I got to high school, I'd grown extremely interested in the history of race in America, in the roots of racial tension here, and in the social movements throughout history that have attempted to address racial inequity. Much of the music that I sought out at that time was related - some loosely, some directly - to those interests. Then college brought me to the Bronx, the birthplace of hip hop, and there I learned the history of the genre/social movement and it's connections to these issues that had interested me for so long. While I'm saddened by the gross turn that mainstream hip hop has taken in recent years, with so much focus on money, violence, and exploitation of women, the roots of hip hop (along with some amazing underground hip hop that doesn't get recognition in the media) remain near and dear to my heart.
Being as interested in race relations as I am, this New York Time's article about race and gentrification talks in Portland (with specific mentions of the street on which I work) caught my eye this morning. Portland is a rather White and segregated city, which has given me a very different experience of race than that which I had in New York City. Read and discuss.