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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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Conclusion: What’s the Dillio? Towards a New “Ticklish Subject”: Pedagogy of the Imaginary as Integrative Antiracism


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What’s the Dillio?1

Towards a New “Ticklish Subject”: Pedagogy of the Imaginary as Integrative Antiracism

In South Carolina, I had been an African. In Nova Scotia, I had become known as a Loyalist, or a Negro, or both. And now, finally back in Africa, I was seen as a Nova Scotian, and in some respects thought of myself that way too…But even as I learned new words and phrases each day, I wondered just who exactly I was and what I had become…Without…any people with whom I could speak the languages of my childhood, what part of me was still African?

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