A growing number of black activists and artists claim that rap and hip-hop are the basis of an influential new urban social movement. Simultaneously, black citizens express concern with the effect that rap and hip-hop culture exerts on African American communities. According to a recent Pew survey, 71% of blacks think that rap is a bad influence.
In his new book, Stare in the Darkness, Lester Spence finds that rap does in fact influence black political attitudes. However, rap also reproduces rather than critiques neoliberal ideology. Black activists seeking to create an innovative model of hip-hop politics are hamstrung by their reliance on outmoded forms of organizing. In a clear and practical manner, Stare in the Darkness reveals the political consequences of rap culture for black politics.
Lester K. Spence is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His work has been published in both academic journals and the popular press, and he appears regularly on NPR. In 2009, he received Johns Hopkins' prestigious Excellence in Teaching Award.