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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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Black Studies and Critical Thinking is an interdisciplinary series which examines the intellectual traditions of and cultural contributions made by people of African descent throughout the world. Whether it is in literature, art, music, science, or academics, these contributions are vast and far-reaching. As we work to stretch the boundaries of knowledge and understanding of issues critical to the Black experience, this series offers a unique opportunity to study the social, economic, and political forces that have shaped the historic experience of Black America, and that continue to determine our future. Black Studies and Critical Thinking is positioned at the forefront of research on the Black experience, and is the source for dynamic, innovative, and creative exploration of the most vital issues facing African Americans. The series invites contributions from all disciplines but is specially suited for cultural studies, anthropology, history, sociology, literature, art, and music.

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