Tension, academic discussions, break dancing and food were all components of the second annual Hip Hop Symposium this past Thursday.

Students, teachers and professors gathered in the library’s grand reading room in an unfiltered discussion about race, education and hip hop.

“There was a controversy about how black people speak their thoughts,” said keynote speaker and professor of anthropology and African American studies at UC Los Angeles, H. Samy Alim, during his speech.

Alim touched on various social issues such as whites’ dismissal of racism, Ebonics and the disconnect among curriculums and what schools aim to achieve.

“Ebonics is a way of speaking in rural areas like in the barrio or the hood,” said Yuliza Hernandez, a second-year English student. “It is the way people of color speak.”

In Alim’s speech, he mentioned a stigma behind the way one sounds and the individual’s level of education. He pointed out an injustice and stated people of color should not have to change the way they speak to seem more intellectual.

Speakers shared thoughts and ideas about the hip hop music style. (Ruth Olivares | The Poly Post)

In addition to race in academia, conversations of hip hop dance and music was also brought to the discussion.

“It [hip hop] is a way to build an identity bigger than yourself,” said Jason Noer, break dancer of over 30 years and dance instructor at the University of Minnesota’s Urban Institute.

In the middle of his speech, Noer shared his dance moves with the crowd.

He warned everyone they might want to stand up for the act and within moments he warmed up to the music and put on a spectacle with flips and urban dance moves.

While a diverse array of speakers attended the symposium, Noer felt there was a lack of ‘breakers,’ break dancers, speaking on their experience of hip hop and what can be studied from it.  

Noer believes learning about hip hop is best done through dance and youth today need to step outside of the classroom and feel the music.

“They need to express themselves and not be devalued,” said Noer. “Students are asked to sit down and they don’t get to be creative with their bodies.”

One audience member had a keen interest in ways of integrating dance as a way of engaging students in physical creativity.

“I did a little bit of research on how rap and hip hop can help students with dyslexia gain knowledge on culture and pedagogies surrounding hip hop,” said English education graduate student from Cal Poly Pomona, Sarah Gharibian.

The five hour event was dense with eye-opening information, but the exchange of questions among speakers and audiences created engagement for both parties and a plagiarism activity took place to get audiences moving and out of their seats until the next panel of speakers arrived.

A comfortable environment allowed for everyone’s expression of their true thoughts.

There was no room for complacency. Upon the termination of the speeches, one student spoke up and felt one of the speakers lacked credibility in relation to certain points brought up in his research.

Standing up for the disagreeing student, another guest speaker shared why she felt the speaker’s findings were offensive and insufficiently researched.

Hip hop encompasses many aspects that are overlooked and the symposium allowed for the exchange of academic research on an urban topic.

Hernandez was happy hip hop is getting attention in academia.

“Hip hop is more than a genre, it’s a lifestyle that helped me growing up,” said Hernandez.  “They displayed it in the symposium that you can bring up an intellectual conversation, [about hip hop] rather than something that has no value.”

Don’t miss the valuable opportunity to learn new insights about hip hop in race, education and music in next year’s hip hop symposium.

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