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Marcavius Zydowicz

WR121, Rigamonti

Analysis Summary

16 May, 2017

Hip-Hop is Bad: Racism and Crime

Upon entering Hip-Hop is Bad into Google, one could discover something hauntingly

biased. Its difficult to read objectively, as the content of the article is disturbingly racist, and its

written from the perspective of an educator that is a person of color. The author is disturbingly

detached from their material, as they seemed to center their claims around the crime bias as in,

No one really looks for a way of life to emulate or a political project to adopt in The Sopranos.

This sentence confers people listening to rap want to emulate a life of crime.

The article, written in 2003 by John H. McWorther, opens with the description of a scene

laden with stereotypes from his perspective. The author, supposedly an associate professor at

Columbia University, apparently decided to go to a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Harlem for lunch

not long ago. There, he found himself sitting near eight African-American boys, aged about

14. He assumed they were skipping school based on their being there during the school day.

Why he assumed this was pertinent may have been to point out that they were committing, what

he saw or what the reader could infer, a crime. This doesnt account for why the teenagers could

have been there. This sets the tone that people that listen to hip-hop are violent because of it, and

it attempts to prove it by showing the authors evidence of experience. I then returns to this point

for the rest of the article as a way to vet his stereotypes.

Assumptive language based on the authors bias is prevalent in the entire article. The

author quotes hip hop spanning generations and fails to grasp the context that was presented.
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They instead dive into the narrative of hip hop causing crime based on excerpts of violent

language, where rappers are undoubtedly exposing the fact that they were raised around violence

and have the capability to be violent to protect themselves. This completely ignores the things

most rap lyrics expose and offers a form of gas-lighting in response. This tactic isnt new. The

author presents themselves like genuinely feel they know what would be good for the culture of

hip-hop and for people of color.

Perhaps one surprising epiphany this man presents rests towards the beginning of the

article, and exposes the authors bias even further. Here, he subtly denies racisms existence in


The hip-hop ethos can trace its genealogy to the emergence in that decade of a black

ideology that equated black strength and authentic black identity with a militantly

adversarial stance toward American society. In the angry new mood, captured by

Malcolm Xs upraised fist, many blacks (and many more white liberals) began to view

black crime and violence as perfectly natural, even appropriate, responses to the supposed

dehumanization and poverty inflicted by a racist society.

Without the context of society being racist, affected by its corrupt civil institutions, one

cannot gain the context needed to understand a large part of why these movements happened.

Ignoring these class obstacles still in place from hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago allows

them to continue, and this simple fact is lost in the article. The new racism is to deny that

racism exists.

However, the intent of claiming hip-hop is inspiring crimes is not to regulate or ban hip-

hop, but to equate the people that listen to hip-hop, African-American boys in this case, with

crime. Through this point, the author can posit there is a danger to white people, saying they buy
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the most recorded hip-hop. Nor will it do to argue that hip-hop isnt black music, since most

of its buyers are white, or because the hip-hop revolution is nominally open to people of all

colors. That whites buy more hip-hop recordings than blacks do is hardly surprising, given that

whites vastly outnumber blacks nationwide. This litotes is to illicit fear in the reader. The

qualification that white people vastly outnumber black people does two things. It qualifies the

previous assumption as natural, and therefore true. It also is an attempt at exoneration of

stereotyping. He hints at loose credibility by quoting hip-hop revolution. This, as observed

before, is another form of gas-lighting. He gets more audacious in his claims as the article goes


The attitude and style expressed in the hip-hop identity keeps blacks down. Almost all

hip-hop, gangsta or not, is delivered with a cocky, confrontational cadence that is fast

becomingas attested to by the rowdies at KFCa common speech style among young

black males.

This excerpt invalidates any person of color who adapts anything the reader could

identify as being associated with hip-hop. More sinister, it assumes unintelligence and

aggressiveness on young black males, which is the perpetuating of a dangerous lie that

threatens the lives of black men around the world.

The language and tone in this article is heavily problematic in how it ignores and

perpetuates racism, and its consequently difficult to navigate. Its unique in that it comes from

an educator at a prestigious university, and this is also especially disconcerting. There are

students who have listened to this person speak and learned from him. There are people who

act as an echo chamber for his rhetoric. Hes a linguist, so hes undoubtedly good at slanting for

his agenda.
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At the end of his article, he states Hip-hop creates nothing. This is to say that those that

rap should attend a university, or something, like him at the predominantly white, prestigious

Columbia University in New York. This is to say that the same opportunities afforded to him are

available to all people, regardless of their race, and denies the existence of privilege. One would

venture to say, Racism creates nothing.

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Works Cited

McWorther, John. How Hip-Hop Holds Blacks Back. Summer 2003