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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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Introduction: Black Don’t Crack Marking the Unmarked: A Critical Ethnography of Becoming


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Black Don’t Crack1

Marking the Unmarked: A Critical Ethnography of Becoming

In speaking, the act that the body is performing is never fully understood; the body is the blindspot of speech…[Therefore] there is what is said, and then there is a kind of saying that the bodily “instrument” of the utterance performs. (Butler, 1997, p. 11)

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