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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 Four: “Oh, I Got It, It Gives Me Great Pleasure!” Hip-Hop Culture and Language, Post/Coloniality, and the Imaginary


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“Oh, I Got It, It Gives Me Great Pleasure!”1

Hip-Hop Culture and Language, Post/Coloniality, and the Imaginary

Look Son, I would like to straighten you out Black is beautiful When Black is empowering Knowledge is power So, you can be as Black as a crow Or you can be as White as snow You don’t know And you ain’t got no dough You can’t go And that’s fo sho

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