May 4, 2010, - 6:18 pm

HipHop Curriculum: Your Day in the DeeKline of PublicK SKoOL EdYOOKayshun

By Debbie Schlussel

Got problems with students who can only, um, “converse” in Ebonics and don’t want to learn real English, math, or American history?


Meet Your Kids’ New Publick Skool Teachahz

Well, Hip Hop Hooray.  Do I have a curriculum for you!  My law school and business school alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has an “if you can’t educate ’em, join ’em” way to further downgrade your teaching skills and finally “get down with the struggle” and be real with your students.

Among the new high-flown languages in which you’ll be “educated” (or rather de-educated) to speak is “Nuyorican.”  And here’s more on this scintillating way of using hip-hop in the classroom (because our students aren’t dumbed-down nearly enough). Love that multi-culturalism.

Hip-hop workshop focuses on teaching tools

Now celebrating its fifth year, the Hip-Hop Educator and Community Leader Training Institute will be held on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus from July 7-11. . . .

Once again, the UW-Madison Office of Multicultural Initiatives will team up with Urban Word NYC to offer this weeklong program for teachers, educators, community leaders and education students to learn the best practices in hip-hop and spoken word pedagogy.

“Spoken word and hip-hop pedagogy is vital because it not only aligns itself with the voice of our next generation of young scholars and leaders, but also because it makes relevant a culture that has impacted and connected our global community,” said Michael Cirelli, executive director of Urban Word NYC and director of the institute.

Um, how can they use the word “scholar” and “hip-hop” in the same sentence with a straight face? Ditto for pedagogy. With hip-hop, it’s more like pedophilogy.

Institute participants will learn proven, hands-on techniques that will help them to develop lesson plans and strengthen their course study, as well as create a platform from which they will understand the scope of hip-hop history, culture and politics, Cirelli said. The learning component is supported with night programming by lecturers and performers who will synthesize the day sessions with effective strategies and cutting-edge multicultural educational approaches.

“Hip-hop history”? Is that like memorizing the day that Russell Simmons and Rev. Run bought their first pair of laceless Adidas? Or is it the date the first naked butt was shaken in front of the camera in a rap video? Or maybe it’s the first day Ice T smoked his first crack pipe with a stripper. Forget reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.  Perhaps it’s the day Professor Griff of Public Enemy uttered his first “Dirty Jew” reference.   It’s very important to America’s future that kids in school learn the important facts of hip-hop.

Math problem:  If 50 Cent has 9 bullets in his body, but gets two removed while all but two of his 30 tattoos are lasered off so he can star in movies, how many women did he infect with herpes divided by how many used condoms need to be recycled to keep things green?

“These opportunities will help educators deepen their practice as spoken word and hip-hop educators, as well as engage the best practices in student-centered liberatory education models.”

What the heck is “liberatory education”? Spare me. I don’t want to know.

This year’s instructors include lead institute instructor Michael Cirelli, Christina Marin on theatrical methodologies, . . . Patrick Camangian on the teaching tools to help students develop critical ideology, Lavie Raven on integrating art in the curriculum, along with Sam Sellers (DJ Rabbi Darkside) and Tracee Worley on using existing knowledge bases to broaden academic success, including standardized test scores.

New Book: How to Score 1,600 on Your SATs Through the Study of ‘Lil Wayne Lyrics While Visiting Him in Prison and Sending Greetings to His Four Kids with Four Women by DJ Rabbi Darkside. Yeah, that’s the academic ticket.

Daily workshops are paired with a week of evening performances featuring readings, panel discussions, hip-hop theater and a concert. Two poetry powerhouses, McKibbens and Regie Cabico will kick things off, while a fresh line up of local and NYC hip-hop artists close out the week. Featured artists include NYC underground kingpin Homeboy Sandman and the Vancouver/Brooklyn crew Old Money.

Yes, that sounds like the recipe for academic success and the highlight of becoming an educated American: listening to Homeboy Sandman. What–no HomeBitch SandHo? These guys are sexist.

The workshop is the winner of the 2007 North American Association of Summer Sessions “Creative and Innovative Program Award,” and enrollment in the summer institute has topped more than 40 community volunteers and educators. Now in its fifth year, the teacher-training institute has grown with additional support from both Professors Carl Grant and Paula Wolfe of the UW-Madison School of Education’s curriculum and instruction program.

Just how much federal and state tax money is going to finance this BS “instruction” on how to warp the young mind even more than it already is?

The following evening lectures, panel discussions and performances are free and open to the public . . . .

Friday, July 9

“First Wave Jump Off Concert” with NYC’s Underground Hip-Hop Phenom, Homeboy Sandman, and Brooklyn to Vancouver Transplants, Old Money, at 7 p.m., Wisconsin Historical Society Auditorium, 816 State St.

Saturday, July 10

Spoken Word Theater Piece “Daddy Dress Up” by Thiahera Nurse at 7 p.m., Memorial Union Terrace, 800 Langdon St. Nurse is from Hollis, Queens, and is the newest addition to the award-winning First Wave program at UW-Madison.

Wow, high culture. And you wonder why each generation of American kids is dumber and more incompetent than the next. A curriculum of “Daddy Dress Up” might be a hint why.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

166 Responses

It sounds like the University of Bridgeport.

Worry01 on May 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Know where ignorance lies from and thats from the public who chooses to become a critic than an audience. Attend the events and you will learn of your own ignorance. You have insulted the intelligence of all the scholars that attend UW Madison who supports these events. Your lack of knowledge and understanding about the subject clearly is shown through your language and inflammatory remarks. Please do more research Debbie.


    Vanna Nguyen on May 5, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I only went to Madison to visit Mifflin Street – really! Well, I am truly shocked. EUBONICS IS BACK? Is it going to be like parents in the 60s trying to say “groovy” to “reach” their kids? Some of us had to learn Nuyorican the hard way – on the Loisaida of town, down in the alphabets. You had to be in the south bronx. You had to know Ft. Apache personally.

Exactly how is this going to help people–I don’t get it. Is this the 101 course as pre-requisite to a DJ Rapping degree course? Please – explain it to me plain and simple. I still think a hoe is something you use to garden or farm.

Sarah Leah Lawent on May 4, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Debbie, what are the worst institutions of higher learning in the United States? We always hear about the best ones, but whoat of those that simply do not make the grade? They deserve their fifteen minutes of fame or infamy. 😉

Worry01 on May 4, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Hip Hop – how to be cool, be dumb and attract hos. I wonder if there’s more to this “education.”

On second thought, I don’t want to really know!

NormanF on May 4, 2010 at 7:12 pm

When I lived in the North, Madison, Wisconsin to be exact, some “educated” people from UW made fun of my Southern accent.

I barely have a Southern accent. I have heard my recorded often as I used to record books, newspaper and magazine articles for a blind WWII veteran. I even helped him record his WWII memoirs for his family.

So, then at UW, ebonics is OK but a very mild Southern voice is NOT OK!

HA! Must have something to do with my color. I am not black. Darn…

Sewsalot on May 4, 2010 at 8:01 pm

UW is the alma mater of my favorite writer Peter Egan, its a shame this Institution is being used for such debauchery.

Its time to get medieval on these nuts Michel Cirelli, Christina Marin Patrick Camangian and all their ilk should be taken to public square and hanged as witches. This is the equivalent of torturing good kids to make them believe in such foolishness inorder to subjugate them to a life of ignorance.

After waisting your time and money on this curriculum you are no good to anyone willing to give you a W-2, just like a liberal arts degree. Every time a liberal gets into the white house these ebonics slaves come out of the woodworks. When will we put and end to this garbage?

ARISHEM on May 4, 2010 at 9:02 pm


    Considering the context of this post, I think what you meant to say was “hanged as n*ggers.” Although, your referencing the innocents who were BURNED during the Salem Witch Trials is equally telling.

    Rachel McKibbens on May 5, 2010 at 5:45 pm


      Please tell me where you got the information that witches were burned during the Salem witchcraft trials. I have never come across that. So far as I know up to now, no one has ever been burned as a witch in this country, although many have been for other crimes, or for no reason at all. If you have other information, I would like a reference, please.

      John Conolley on May 5, 2010 at 6:14 pm


        People were hanged and/or stoned during the SALEM witch trials. Silly me, I mixed-up my witch hunts. PLEASE FORGIVE ME. Those accused of witch craft in Europe during the 15th century were indeed burned. I’m glad that glitch was all you found wrong with this post.

        Rachel McKibbens on May 5, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Reminds me of a funny exchange that took place at The Home Depot. I needed to mix some concrete while in my crawl space and I wanted a short handled hoe to mix the mud. I couldn’t find any hoes with short handles, probably thanks to Cesar Chavez, so I went to the guys in the orange vests to ask. I found a couple of employees who happened to be young black guys and I asked them, “Where are your hoes?” They both looked at me the way a chicken watches a card trick for a moment and then they both got big grins. One of the answered, “I think there’s some up front”.

After I explained myself it turned out they didn’t carry any hoes of the short-handled variety.

Richard on May 4, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    congratulations on being a racist bigot. i hope you get a kick out of yourself.

    megan on May 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Great story Richard. But what the HELL are you talking about? And what does this have to do with the article? Because it just sounds like you’re some predjudiced geezer who did realize he was the butt of a joke between two kids.

    Nathan on May 5, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Sh*t Hop will go down as one of the most destructive influences in our society. It legitimized the victim mentality. It legitimized the criminal mindset. It legitimized destructive behavior in a civilization.

CaliforniaScreaming on May 5, 2010 at 1:19 am


Bob Porrazzo on May 5, 2010 at 6:44 am

    you dont know anything about hip hop culture, clearly, so you are not in the position to deem it ‘subhuman’. you sound like a nazi, and if anything is setting back human progression it’s racist narrow minded people like yourself.

    megan on May 5, 2010 at 12:40 pm

The only response to your description of modern day education is to repeat Michael Savage….”liberalism is a mental disorder.”

Jerry on May 5, 2010 at 7:35 am

Can the bar go any lower? Will all students enrolled receive A’s?

Lowest.Set.Bar.Ever. on May 5, 2010 at 9:59 am

this madness has even spread into the working world. i work for a major aerospace company — starts with a “b” and ends with an “ing” — and transfered from the pacific northwest to the new south carolina facility. soon upon my arrival, i was invited to a workshop where the discussion was how to tailor the training of new factory workers. the issue at hand was the local workforce was largely illiterate and innumerate, so, how do we train them was the dilemma. hmmm… how do you train airplane mechanics who can’t read, write or do basic math? the actions at the end of the workshop all centered around working with a local technical college, based on the assumption they had experience with educating the local population, to see how we could reconfigure our corporate training program.

i’ve skipped the 30 and 60-day workshop update meetings… might attend the 90-day update just out of curiousity.

howardroark on May 5, 2010 at 10:00 am


Approximately three weeks ago I was running at Rice University in Houston, Texas and noticed a sign for a celebration on campus. The celebration was for 22 years of hip hop in Houston, Texas.
The event must have been at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

Michael on May 5, 2010 at 10:29 am

“Can the bar go any lower? Will all students enrolled receive A’s?”

Isn’t it obvious after the last FOUR decades of Blacks and others like this being given passing grades,despite never doing anything in schools even close to learning?

Phineas on May 5, 2010 at 11:09 am

Happily, since my parents were situationally — not generationally — poor and I had to work my way through school I could not afford the A-list universities.

Thank God.

Mack Hall on May 5, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Well, I thought you were just ripping on hip-hop culture but as I read through some of your other posts, I realized that you are apparently hateful toward and ignorant of a lot of subjects. As you have a following of like-minded folks, I’m sure this comment will get pulverized by individuals calling me everything but a good Christian, so let ‘er rip.
Thank you for setting up another great example of us vs. them. If you think you are superior to anyone (including all those hip-hop folks that you so disdain) you are deluding yourself…you are spreading the same nastiness and disregard for others that you complain about in others.

d. wils on May 5, 2010 at 12:46 pm

this blog and all if its comments are dripping with blatant racism. how about we all stop being cultural imperialists and not talk about cultures and people that you clearly are not acquainted with and do not understand. how about instead, you go educate yourself about the legacies of racism and colonialism in this country, and maybe you can see some of the parallels with your attitudes and the racist attitudes of your ancestors.

you think white is right and that we all should be like you…can you maybe think about why that is wrong?

megan on May 5, 2010 at 12:47 pm

How can it be wrong to reach, connect and ultimately inspire a student by finding a common ground with which to communicate?

The only place you can go from there is up.

The spoken word is an art form, and like other art forms it can be used as a teaching tool. I’ve seen lives of young people be completely transformed– for the better– by spoken word.

Your article clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding of the subject.

Charlie on May 5, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Debbie and co.,

Have you ever attended one of these trainings, sat in a classroom with one of these teachers, spoken to students who have been academically engaged through Hip Hop ed. and gone on to college and graduate school? It seems you are speaking from a vehemently ignorant perspective. It is true that the majority of mainstream Hip Hop is sexist, violent, and hyper sexual but like all music/cultural movements there are many dimensions to it. I know first hand that Hip Hop can be used as a vehicle to educate and bring communities together for positive change.

I sincerely hope you can learn to humanize people who are different than you, who come from different neighborhoods, and whose life experiences are not valued by institutions of higher learning.

Is the goal of a teacher to have his/her children learn? If so, why shouldn’t we use Hip Hop as a medium to reach and excite students? Or is your goal to maintain traditional education practices at the expense of your student’s education and life outcomes?

The mentality you have is poison and is fuel for prejudice and violence because it leaves no room for discussion. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

“Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted… but to weigh and consider”. -Francis Bacon

Please stop talking out of ignorance.


EC on May 5, 2010 at 12:57 pm

It is truly your loss to not attend these workshops and you are alienating yourself and others to an entire cultural and learning experience. While I’m sure you have built up an idea of what that is in your head, you are far from correct. I would suggest you spend even five minutes reading some of Michael Cirelli’s and Rachel McKibben’s work before you open your mouth or lift your fingertips again to type a word about either of them or the work they are involved in.

Journalists who do not do research on what they are writing about are really just gossip columnists. Perhaps you should title your blog more aptly, Dear Debbie instead.

Amanda on May 5, 2010 at 1:03 pm


Debbie, nor anyone else posting here are racists. A persons color or ethnicity has nothing whatsoever to do with it. Many whites are also part of the hip-hop “culture”, and this is widely known. Instead, you should call us “culturalists”. We wear that badge proudly! It is the opposite of the lie that is “multi – culturalism”. Yes, there are many cultures that are clearly superior to others. All cultures are not equal, when some cultures are destructive to themselves and others. I know this is not what you learned in skool, but what you were taught is a LIE! Deal with that and live in the real world.

spiffo on May 5, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    “All cultures are not equal, when some cultures are destructive to themselves and others. I know this is not what you learned in skool, but what you were taught is a LIE! Deal with that and live in the real world.”

    What culture has not been harmful to itself or others in some capacity? Also, what cultures are we speaking of when you say that some are better than others. It’s peculiar to think that the state of the US is the fault of the cultures independent of what has been done to them by the “superior” cultures. As though the poor whites in the south as “inferior” to the middle-class whites of, say, Chicago, IL. Perhaps the history of their poverty would make lucid how the “superior” culture, by removing resources from or ignoring entirely certain geographical/socioeconomic areas (based largely on race and income), only further the destruction elitists claim as belonging wholly to the destroyed. There is no perfect culture, therefore there is no better culture. When no mistakes are made by a certain group of people then perhaps we can get into the moralistic and qualitative argument of who’s better than whom.

    Furthermore, hip hop has a history. Much like rock and roll, jazz, the blues, bluegrass etc have histories. What’s fascinating about the devolution of hip hop is that it is supported by record companies. The more positive aspects of hip hop are shunned and ignored by those who are in control of distribution and management. So not only are artists to blame for the violence and misogyny in rap today, but so are the record companies who feed into that nonsense by making it what is primarily available. Artists like Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Bahamadia, Guru etc have rapped about nothing but politics, the state of the Black community, the state of the world, and how to fix what we go through as a nation and a planet. Spoken Word ties directly into that, as it is a positive, cultural force that encourages reading, writing, confidence built by performance, and mentorship. There are teens whose lives have been saved by Spoken Word, by poetry, by having a voice. This becomes cyclical as these teens reach out to their peers and to students younger than them. It’s a lot more complex and layered than simplistic, anti-culture “better than” arguments than are founded on bigotry and not research nor self-reflection. You should feel fortunate that there is not one way to exist in the world.

    Phillip on May 5, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Many humans in general are destructive and a detriment to their environments and their neighbors within it. It surely has nothing to do with what part of the globe your from. Or your ‘ancestry’. There are no races. Quit it.

    I gather by reading this post that the author is actually not ignorant about what’s real and what’s not in Hiphop. This author a tool helping further the distance between people. Unfortunately most people fall into the trap of engaging individuals who’s sole purpose is to take our mind off of productive things. Regardless, I’m sure that there are some people that have read this that actually have the presence of mind to not just believe the rhetoric displayed here and have taken it upon their selves to do some research.

    A few of these people mentioned in this post I know personally. College graduates. Teachers, professors. World traveled performers. One of them even appeared on MTV’s Made, where he taught a young lady how to beatbox.

    For all of my folks that were offended by this post, don’t take it personal. And don’t waste too much time arguing with people who’s purpose is to lie and spread, hate and ignorance. You have nothing to prove. They do. That’s why they so adamantly pursue this insane mission to be evil.


    Conscious on May 6, 2010 at 9:36 am


From your comments I see that you are unfamiliar with hip-hop culture and with the students this program is targeting. I recommend you attend the workshops and then offer a critique, rather than jumping to conclusions using inflammatory and irresponsible language. The workshop doesn’t mention “ebonics”, you do.

One of the workshops uses hip-hop to help students learn SAT words and perform better on standardized tests – and it’s proven effective. If there’s any more mainstream measurement than standardized tests I haven’t seen it.

But more importantly, you’re dismissing a culture you clearly know little about. For all your talk about education, you show no interest in educating yourself. Do all cultures have to be just like yours to matter? Please.

-A Teacher

A Teacher on May 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm

To go into the history of hip-hop here would be pointless, as it’s clear that you and your loyal readers have no real interest in addressing the questions you pose in your blog. Nonetheless, the racism and prejudice in this blog and its comments compelled me to respond.

In short, hip-hop has its roots in decades of cultural and political suppression. To deny the talents and contributions of Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix and any number of other jazz/rock musicians is plain ignorant. To ignore their impact and influence on the evolution of hip-hop is absurd. To pretend that hip-hop culture has not contributed to the evolution of modern poetry is ridiculous. All of that aside, your post itself justifies the need for such courses throughout the university system. Clearly you and your regular readers have no respect for or understanding of non-white cultures. Perhaps a bit of education may open your eyes to your own bigotry.

On another note, the remark that “Blacks and others like this [are] given passing grades, despite never doing anything in schools even close to learning” is precisely the kind of attitude our younger generations are trying to expel. Appropriate that the name you’ve used to post the comment does, in fact, refer to dark-skinned people in ancient Egypt. It appears that your ignorance goes much deeper than the subject at hand. Of course, that should be obvious by your assumption that people of any color are inherently uneducated freeloaders coasting through life.

rks on May 5, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I’m all for freedom of speech but the author of this article obviously never attended any of the Urban Word sessions, so I won’t feed into her ignorance of what the program really is about. What I will say is that people need to open their minds to what can be done about the current means of education in the country let alone New York.

To think that Hip Hop is all about hoes, pimps and drugs is a true insult to the culture. Meanwhile you have other genres of music who talk of killing family members, mutilating and dismembering animals, all while on stage. There are youth who follow those genres as well. Many of them commit heinous crimes and you have nerve to attack Hip Hop? Interesting.

Has anyone ever listened to “Homeboy Sandman”? No, because he speaks of positivity. How about “DJ Rabbi Darkside”? No, because he speaks of positivity. Commercial radio has sullied what began as a positive and uplifting culture because of what media feels is more profitable to them. Anyone of you ever take a course in media marketing? Remember the uproar about the cigarette companies targeting kids with their clever ads? Please do your research before posting ignorant articles, comments and ideals. That goes to you to Debbie.

Peace and Blessings.

Coole High on May 5, 2010 at 1:12 pm

You have obviously taken the worst of a particular community and treated it as if it was the absolute sum of the culture, a classic fallacious argument. As a student of law, you have the educational background to know what a fallacy of composition is and it is clear that you use it to play upon the ignorance of, and pander to your audience ad populum. Therefore, I cannot take you seriously or your writing. Good Day.

-Sincerely, Lil Jon.

rc on May 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm

hip hop is predominately people of color, you cannot ignore the racial dimension of it, and say that youre not a racist because eminem is white. get real.

megan on May 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm

From what i read, it appears Debbie Schlussel is as well as some of the commenters are grossly ignorant to what hip-hop and spoken word really is. For most people this is understandable. All most know about hip-hop is what they hear on the radio, which is not hip-hop at all. That is popularized “rap”, a term that is rarely if ever used when talking about Hip-Hop. It’s good that The University of Wisconsin-Madison finally has this curriculum which teaches to fully investigate opposing viewpoints before arguing them or risk sounding wholly uninformed at best, to name just one aspect of the teachings. I suppose they didn’t teach that when Miss Schlussel attended. Here is a brief education on what Hip-Hop really is: Hiphop is a term that describes our independent collective consciousness. As a conscious way of life, we acknowledge our influence on society, especially on children; and we shall forever keep the rights and welfare of both in mind. Hiphop Culture encourages womanhood, manhood, sisterhood, brotherhood, childhood and family. We are conscious not to bring any intentional disrespect that jeopardizes the dignity and reputation of our children, elders and ancestors.

That’s just a part of it.


Victor on May 5, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    “Hiphop is a term that describes our independent collective consciousness. As a conscious way of life, we acknowledge our influence on society, especially on children; and we shall forever keep the rights and welfare of both in mind. Hiphop Culture encourages womanhood, manhood, sisterhood, brotherhood, childhood and family. We are conscious not to bring any intentional disrespect that jeopardizes the dignity and reputation of our children, elders and ancestors.”

    I thought you got all of that stuff from recyling and using low flow toilets?

    Seriously, you need to take courses outside of the Ethnic Studies Department. Your boilerplate is the same nonsense Culture that has been attached to Kwanzaa. I will say that Hip Hop has over the years mainstreamed the use of cocaine and black male degradation, if that is an accomplishment. I cite the current state of Mo-Town and Oak-Town as examples. Their permanent slide closely tracks with the advent of Hip Hop in the late 70’s. You can really see family and communal values at work in those cities.

    sorrow01 on May 5, 2010 at 5:13 pm

      Sorrow01, have you actually been to Oakland? Have you met the families and artist collectives there? Have you heard the work of the Oakland-area spoken word artists, hip-hop artists and poets? Have you seen the gardens from groups like City Slicker Farms, installed in the yards of low-income families in West Oakland? Groups like City Slicker are not only encouraging good eating habits by teaching people how to grow their own food, but help neighbors really connect and create a community with individual gardens growing different crops that can be bartered, traded or sold.

      So yes, yes you CAN really see family and communal values at work in Oakland. Does it have its flaws? Yes. Does every single city in America, large and small, also have its flaws? Yes.

      Spend some time in a city like Oakland. Only then can you be qualified to make such a statement.

      Charlie on May 5, 2010 at 7:44 pm

      actually Sorrow01,

      That slide in the Oak Town and Mo-Town communities can be partially attributed to government and state sanctioned programs like Cointelpro doing I dont know…Illegal insertions of heroin and crack cocaine into the community. How about the racial domestic policies of Reagan? I have exactly twenty minutes to leave my house so I can go teach your kids so I cant really give you the whole history..why dont you do a little research for once and look it up, instead of lean on that crutch you call racism?

      Mikal Amin Lee on May 6, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I agree with Coole High

After reading this I realize that U R FUKKIN STOOPID (should be easy for you to translate 😉

Mic Wilson on May 5, 2010 at 1:30 pm

I’m not surprised in the least by the uninformed and ignorant post made by you, Debbie. You seem to take pride in being smug as you lash out at an event which you really do not understand. Always easier to mock and archive your outrage than attempt to understand I suppose.

It’s a shame you were not educated enough in doing proper research at the prestigous university you attended.

Ed P. on May 5, 2010 at 1:31 pm

wow. ign’ant white people be dumb and shit.

Alvin on May 5, 2010 at 1:32 pm

In conceiving the Professional Development to accompany the Hip Hop test prep project we’ve been working on for the last 10 months, my partner and I have included a ‘devil’s advocate’ question phrased: “Does Hip Hop ‘dumb-down’ the curriculum?” We have been theorizing the possible responses on the ‘yes’ end of this question, but now, we need not theorize anymore. I find it helpful to gain insight into the mind and musings of the elitist/racist/cultural supremacists. It’s so easy to lose sight of how narrow-minded this country is, and how tightly institutionalized racism grips the majority. Which is exactly why the Summer Institute goes down in Wisconsin. To give those sporting a question mark an opportunity to engage in discourse and discovery. A big part of our job is making believers of non-believers, from classroom to crowd to Congress. Grassroots movements terrify the ruling class. Debbie, I hope to see you there this summer. It may restore your faith in your esteemed alma mater.

And to quote the venerable Core Rhythm’s response: “Be happy Arts Educators, we have officially made noise! We have gotten the attention of the very people we are attempting to protect our students from cause they now see that it is WORKING! This only validates our importance and contribution. We have done a masterful job. Let’s keep on…”


Rabbi Darkside (S. Sellers)

ps – highfalutin academics, please take a minute to use spell check. It wouldn’t really “waist” too much time.

Rabbi Darkside on May 5, 2010 at 1:57 pm

This program at the University of Wisconsin exposes students to some of the most creative, talented, relevant, and HONORED people in American letters today, including Rachel McKibbens, Regie Cabico, and Patricia Smith, the latter a recent National Book Award finalst and winner of the Puschart and National Poetry Series prizes. The program encorages students not only to read these artists but to have respect for, and create, in their own voices. Your criticism of the program, beginning with the misspelled headline that implies illiteracy and ignorance, is remarkably uninformed and reeks of racism.

Bruce DeSilva on May 5, 2010 at 1:58 pm

“We have gotten the attention of the very people we are attempting to protect our students from…”

Very true, Rabbi Darkside. But be careful, teaching artists, being on the radar opens you up to the white supremest, hetero normative, misogynistic backlash which is always longer and harder than you expect, and it gets personal really fast.

Billy on May 5, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    I’m sure I can speak for Rabbi and say. So what. Not afraid. This is the life we live. Not worried about cowards.

    Conscious on May 6, 2010 at 9:42 am

If you had ever attended the institute (which, judging by your article, you CLEARLY have not), then you wouldn’t have a piece of ground to stand on saying this. Please attend any of the events you listed above. I guarantee that you wouldn’t find a single shred of evidence to support your argument.

Adam Levin
Member of the First Wave Spoken Word and Urban Arts Learning Community

Adam Moshe Levin on May 5, 2010 at 2:41 pm

I struggled with the decision to respond to this, because quite frankly, I am tired of it being necessary to defend hip-hop. Yet it clearly is.

Rock as a genre is not held accountable for the devil worshiping death metal bands. Pop is not condemned for its oversexualized underage starlets. Yet time after time, year after year, hip-hop is berated by uninformed biased non-listeners, as proved by your mention of Homeboy Sandman. I know Boy Sand personally and am quite familiar with his music. If the author were either of these things, she would have realized he is an agent of peace and improvent for

Willie Green on May 5, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Peace to All,

This is great as Rabbi Stated. This only shows how much attention Hip Hop education is receiving when people that don’t know about the culture still feel compelled to write about it because of what they have been fed by mainstream media. Debbie please attend this event and see if it is really what you presented it to be. Homeboy Sandman is an Ivy League graduate and if the work Urban Word does wasn’t valid why would these institutions align with them?

Love and Light to All,
Why G?

Visit these site to see some results of Hip Hop Education

Why G? on May 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm

All people. Ironic she used him as ammo. (I apologize for the break in my message, this is difficult from a BlackBerry)

It is ignorant and dangerous to make judgments on any artform based simply on the mainstream. I think if some of the commenters really thought, they wouldn’t judge anything on the most obvious one percent of anything. That’s blatantly uninformed. Most hip-hop is made in the underground, and positive rappers outnumber your examples ten to one. I can guarantee this, I make this music for a living

Willie Green
Record Producer/Recording Engineer/A&R

Willie Green on May 5, 2010 at 2:55 pm


Yet again, this post is an example of how you get it wrong. When you heard that the Virginia Tech Massacre shooter was Asian, and you said “Pakis are considered Asian” When you called Sonia Sotomayor, “Sonia from the block” and compared her to J-Lo, When you, bizarrely, said Oprah Winfrey was “Racist against Black Dogs” and now, when you set up a straw man argument denigrating the work of dedicated educators who produce quantifiable results because of your own racial prejudice and ignorance. You are a racist, and pander to the very worst elements of your readership. I note that is not six comments in, and your rabid fan base is advocating lynching these artists and teachers. Educating you on the Nuyorican literary movement, or on the incredible work that these organizations and individuals due, often gratis, for children in desperate need of committed educators and mentors would be a waste of time, because you, and your followers are not interested in facts. You are only interested in sensational sound bites, and in airing your bigotry under the banner of humor, a flavor of humor that you can clearly dish out but not take, as your numerous lawsuits for, of all things, threatening emails, clearly shows. You have taken something useful, and good, and chosen to sensationalize it and politicize it in the interest of advancing your own bizarre rightwing agenda. This is clearly within your rights to free speech, and while I do not doubt that you are acting in bad faith, being the cut rate Ann Coulter also-ran that you are, I do not think it is just that you should present these programs as something they are not, in the interest of fomenting racial tension. As I am sure you know, these programs have nothing to do with introducing “Ebonics” into public schools and everything to do with contextualizing literary studies for students, and the writers and performers you malign are anything but the blackface stereotypes you invoke. I encourage any of your readers to take the initiative and read the writer’s mentioned in the article and judge for themselves before joining you in condemning them.

Jake on May 5, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I will just say that language is a constantly evolving organism that takes various forms according to cultural surroundings and progression. To immediately disregard the language of hiphop without any serious attempt to understand its cultural underpinnings or validity in the global conversation as ignorant monkey talk is inherently prejudiced. Listen to RZA or GZA or Aesop Rock or El-P or anyone else that you’ve never given a chance, listen to them speak, converse, and do their art and tell me that you have an intellectual edge on these cats. I guarantee that you don’t.

Marty on May 5, 2010 at 3:37 pm

As one of the educators listed in this harmful and reductive diatribe, as a parent of elementary, middle and high school students, as a hip-hop enthusiast, as a civilized human being who understands (some days more than others) the importance of good debate, I must respond.

What you’ve done here, Debbie, was take a shoelace and attempt to make a noose of it. Like every form of music in existence, hip-hop has its share of misogynist & violent images, lyrics and performers, yes. These facts, however, do NOT strip the hip-hop culture of its historical, social & political significance. Just like rock n’ roll isn’t dismissed as being full of pedophiles just because Elvis had a live-in 14-yr old girlfriend back in the 1960s and Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13-yr old cousin. You don’t find me saying all country music is about drugs and murder after hearing Johnny Cash sing “I shot a man in Reno / just to watch him die” or “I took a shot of cocaine / and I shot my woman down.”

Debbie, it is painfullly clear you have done nothing to inform yourself of the origins aka “HISTORY” of hip-hop: Griots, West African oral traditionalists who date back to the 1800s. Their vocal stylings paved the way for blues, jazz, scat and rap. (Which was, in turn, stolen and “fixed” to become white bread rock ‘n roll of the 1950s, but I digress.)

A hip-hop curriculum is designed to engage the most reluctant readers and writers by creating a pedagogy that utilizes the strongest components of hip-hop (rhyme scheme, hyperbole, alliteration, metaphor/simile, cadence) as devices that will enable students to find parallels between the contemporary griots of today and the classic poets. As an educator who was a high school student in the 90s, let me be the first to tell you, THINGS CHANGE. Constantly. The American history books I was taught from were excessively 1) outdated 2) one-sided 3) reductive. It is our responsibility as educators to keep up with the times. If it means learning the best parts of one of the most influential movements in musical and cultural history, where’s the harm in that? How else are we going to battle cyberbullying? Sexually provocative children? Racism? Bigotry?

Personally, I’d like a punk rock curriculum that highlighted the parallels between The Dead Kennedys, Crass and Black Flag and the writings of Walt Whitman, Anne Sexton and Kenneth Patchen. Or how about an emo curriculum. A pop music curriculum. Something for everyone. I was made to read three poets while in high school (and this was an honors English course.) All three were white, male and nothing like me. Their poems were about nature and the sweet love of soft things. As a latchkey Mexican kid who grew up among skyscrapers, I couldn’t relate. So, I wrote poetry off for the next seven years. I did not learn that there are different breeds of beauty, so I thought mine was wrong. Luckily, I found a poet who spoke my language (not ebonic, not spanish, but whose voice came from the same house as mine) and I am alive, today, because of it, because of the music I could relate to (Public Enemy, MC Lyte, Eric B and Rakim.) because some people were willing to say, “Your voice counts too.”

To embrace a culture that is not yours is not a “dumbing down.” It is a handshake. A step up. A warm embrace. I hope those of you who took enough time to read this blog post and respond with contempt will spend an equal amount of time educating yourselves on tolerance, empathy and cultural enlightenment. You don’t have to join us. You don’t have to like the music we use as a teaching device. You don’t have to like our brown faces, even. But you do have to acknowledge that education is important. And it is an emergency. And if there are a few of us willing to roll up our sleeves and make this crazy world accessible to our youth, don’t knock it. We’re more than you.

And if you don’t know, now you know,

Rachel McKibbens

Rachel McKibbens on May 5, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I heard about this article from an amazing slam poet (Carlos Gomez). I cannot believe the bigotry and the hatred within it. The response that you wrote is phenomenal. I cannot believe that someone would write this and think it was okay. I applaud your response and am sincerely thankful. I hate when people are so blinded by their own bigotry that they can’t see past the end of their own nose. Thank you for your intellect!

    Christine Wertz on May 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm

are you in arizona? if not you belong there with all the other bigots and racists in the country. step into a classroom in nyc, compton, houston, south florida, dc, cleveland and newark for one day, then i will entertain your views on engagement and learning in urban education.

urban educator on May 5, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Hi Debbie,

Im Siaara Freeman ( please excuse my ethnic name, I realize how much it must disturb you, as it is composed of things you obviously hate such as : creativity and urban input).

I am a sophmore law student at Notre Dame University.
I have listened to hip hop my entire life
and guess what

I managed to maintain a 3.8 and secure a 28 on my act score
All while jamming to tupac, can you imagine
I must be lucky, a talented tenth teenager huh?
(and it was an interacial school system I graduated from, so no easy a’s infact I do believe I had to work twice as hard)

I am also a spoken word artist
a three year veteran of Brave New Voices
as well as the current grandslam champ of cleveland
and a member of the adult spoken word team
attenting nationals this year

I would adore for you to attend
be a beakon of hope in our sea of ignorance
please bring waves of bigotry
it is people like you
who taught me how to swim in such shallow waters
without drowning in self doubt

You are the reason my grandmother
will never allow herself to trust a white woman
why she dosent understand why my bestfriend is greek.

you are the embodiment of all the ladies
who have been shocked
by my articulance

I do not intend to reject my culture because of you debbie
Nor do I intend to invite you in it

My inital response was shock, then anger, then laughter.
You are amusing Debbie, holding tight to your confederate flag
in what you consider the end of days

hold tight debbie
hatred requires a strong grip

Siaara Freeman on May 5, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    articulance? if i were in need of a lawyer, and he/she said the non-word “articulance”, i would get up and leave.

    howardroark on May 6, 2010 at 10:10 am

Congratulations Debbie!

Your supremely elitist snark fest of a blog post has inspired me to consider attending this program.

I volunteer a great deal of time, promoting spoken word in and out of the class room. Any tool I can use to help bridge the gap in communicating with teens and educating them on the power of their own voice is valuable indeed.

I mean, I didn’t even KNOW about this program until you harangued so vehemently against it.

You truly can’t buy that kind of exposure!

The main difference now is that instead of increasing “2 Live Crew” Album Sales (ostensibly creating their career by making them free speech martyrs in the early 90’s), your ilk’s inflammatory rhetoric and fear of diverse creativity can actually help promote positive, creative, important projects like this.

Word up!

Alex on May 5, 2010 at 4:37 pm


As you are a daughter of Holocaust survivors, it is extremely startling that your diatribe in regards to people of color, the hip-hop community and liberatory educators (look it up) parallels the same ignorant Nazi ideologies that murdered countless innocent lives.

It is a shame to see how far you’ve come, as a lawyer and “scholar,” and how little we’ve grown in regards to the repressive, racist and ignorant diatribe that our people have displayed on this website. Today, I’m embarrassed to be white, thanks to you and the subsequent clanspeople who have commented above.

White Man on May 5, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    i thank my lucky stars everyday that i’m white… sorry it’s not working out for you!

    howardroark on May 6, 2010 at 10:15 am

and you’re ugly.

Joaquin on May 5, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I just wanted to chime in to say that what you call “Ebonics” is more commonly known as African American Vernacular English these days. It is recognized by the majority of contemporary linguists as a dialect of American English, not a corruption. It is as easy as spending a few minutes at Wikipedia to familiarize yourself with the subject:


Kyle Jeffries on May 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Shocker! DS once again stereotypes a whole culture and makes black people out to be ignoramuses. But then since conservatives and liberals alike generally dislike DS, certainly the KKK would welcome her with open arms.

MrGreyGhost on May 5, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Debbie – just out of curiosity: why do you have so much contempt for a people or culture you clearly know nothing about?

Nathan on May 5, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Well, the answer would be a question to you actually. Why do you support a movement that glorifies violence, treats women like whores to be knocked up and dumped , thinks going to prison is cool, celebrates drug dealing, etc. What has Hip Hop done for the black community or anyone else? Haven’t things actually gotten worse since Hip Hop began developing in the late 70’s. It actually sounds like a Klan plot, if one is into conspiracy theories.

    sorrow01 on May 5, 2010 at 5:19 pm

      None of the educators involved in this program support these elements. Hip-hop is not just a genre of music, it is a culture. And we are using it as a device to introduce other forms of poetry and writing to our students. The images and examples that Debbie chose for this post are equivalent to including a photo of a drowned child in a post about the mating habits of great white sharks. You are focusing on a grain of sand beneath the ocean.

      Rachel McKibbens on May 5, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Debbie- Can you say *oink oink*? I bet you can.

Michael Anderson on May 5, 2010 at 5:21 pm

It’s a shame that you’ve created such a narrow definition for what is quickly becoming a very vibrant arm of contemporary poetics. The manner in which you mock the study of modern urban vernacular is eerily similar to the initial public outcry against Walt Whitman’s use of free verse, Langston Hughes’ championing of jazz and Allen Ginsberg’s Bohemian imagery. We all know all those poets have become part of the United States poetry canon and I predict many of these poets you defile in your post will also go on to join that canon as well.

Oscar Bermeo on May 5, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Leave a Reply

* denotes required field