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The Rhizome of Blackness

A Critical Ethnography of Hip-Hop Culture, Language, Identity, and the Politics of Becoming


Ibrahim Awad and Awad Ibrahim

The Rhizome of Blackness is a critical ethnographic documentation of the process of how continental African youth are becoming Black in North America. They enter a «social imaginary» where they find themselves already falling under the umbrella of Blackness. For young Africans, Hip-Hop culture, language, and identity emerge as significant sites of identification; desire; and cultural, linguistic, and identity investment. No longer is «plain Canadian English» a site of investment, but instead, Black English as a second language (BESL) and «Hip-Hop all da way baby!» (as one student put it). The result of this dialectic space between language learning and identity investment is a complex, multilayered, and «rhizomatic third space,» where Canada meets and rubs shoulders with Africa in downtown Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal in such a way that it produces its own «ticklish subject» and pedagogy of imaginary and integrative anti-racism.
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Chapter Two: “Wallahi, ils sont tous des racistes!” Striated Racialization and the Rhizomatic Process of Becoming Black


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“Wallahi, ils sont tous des racistes!”1

Striated Racialization and the Rhizomatic Process of Becoming Black

“You have no idea what I have lived through. Every waking moment is a nightmare for the captives you hold right now, on the other side of these stone walls. You have no idea what they endure, if they will even survive in the ships, no idea of the thousands of humiliations and horrors waiting at their destinations.”

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