Seeing White through Rap: A Classroom Exercise for Examining Race Using a Hip-Hop Video

Seeing White through Rap: A Classroom Exercise for Examining Race Using a Hip-Hop Video

by Robert Stein, Alfred University

When discussing race in the classroom, getting students—including, importantly, white students—to see that all people have racial identities can be a challenge. This classroom exercise employs a rap video as a tool for helping to reveal white as a racial identity and for exploring the concept of white privilege—the idea that economic, social, and psychological advantages accrue to white people because of their racial identity. In this article, I argue the benefits of using rap videos as a teaching aid, paying special attention to the ways in which whiteness and white privilege can be analyzed using the video “Hell Yeah” by the group Dead Prez.

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This Educate-JPSE collaboration brings together articles published in the Journal of Political Science Education that discuss classroom approaches related to teaching about race, racism, social justice and civic action. Our reading list offers a range of materials – from syllabi, reading lists to active learning assignments – that discuss classroom practices through the lens of identity, gender and power relations. It includes a model for professors who are interested in partnering with local community activists to design civically engaged courses, with specific examples covering research and organizing around affordable housing issues. 

The Journal of Political Science Education is an intellectually rigorous, path-breaking, agenda-setting journal that publishes the highest quality scholarship on teaching and pedagogical issues in political science. The journal aims to represent the full range of questions, issues and approaches regarding political science education, including teaching-related issues, methods and techniques, learning/teaching activities and devices, educational assessment in political science, graduate education, and curriculum development.