Jay-Z Argues That Hip Hop Helps Race Relations But An Arizona Education Official Says It Breeds Resentment Towards Whites

Jay Z says hip hop can improve race relations Hip hop mogul and successful entrepreneur Jay-Z believes that hip hop music actually has the ability to mend race relations in America, but one Arizona legislator disagrees so much with that message that he is pushing to have hip hop classes removed from Tucson schools.

As the nation continues to struggle with deteriorating race relations following the killings of unarmed Black men by police officers and the killing of two New York officers by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, an interesting debate has been sparked.

Does hip hop music help race relations or harm them?

According to Jay-Z, hip hop has had a positive impact on race relations and has helped create common ground for groups of people that initially thought they had nothing in common.

“I think that hip hop has done more for racial relations than most cultural icons,” the internationally celebrated rap star said in a new piece for Oprah’s “Master Class” project. “Save Martin Luther King, because his dream speech we realize[d] when President Obama got elected. But, the impact of the music, you know, this music didn’t only influence kids from urban areas. It influenced people all around the world.”

He goes on to say that he believes racism is taught in the home and often at a young age, but if that child has an interest in hip hop music it becomes difficult to teach a white kid to hate Black people.

“It’s very difficult to teach racism when your kid looks up to Snoop Doggy Dogg,” he said.

Even something as simple as the party scene has seen revolutionary changes due to so many cultures embracing hip hop, he argued.

“Before people partied in separate clubs,” he continued. “There were hip hop clubs and there were techno clubs. Now people party together, and once you have people partying, dancing, and singing along to the same music, then conversations naturally happen after that.”

It’s a point that almost any millennial would be able to attest to.

Despite the fact that hip hop music has managed to bring diverse groups of friends together, an Arizona state official believes the genre has no place inside the classroom.

The outgoing head of the state’s Education Department, John Huppenthal, released a letter on Friday arguing that Tucson schools are encouraging people of color to come together and spew hatred towards all white people by teaching a hip hop class and Mexican history class.

The classes came after a federal court order demanded that Tucson schools create more “culturally relevant courses.”

Huppenthal believes those courses will do nothing more than increase resentment against whites.

The hip hop class is titled “An Introduction to Hip Hop Presented by Master Teacher, KRS-One.”

The rapper himself posted a manifesto for the class and defined hip hop as “the artistic response to oppression.”

Huppenthal believed that that alone was enough to have the class pulled.

“I think we’re getting a really clear view of the paranoia of the leadership of this state,” said Curtis Acosta, a former teacher of another Mexican-American studies course that has already been banned, to The Huffington Post.

John Huppenthal

John Huppenthal

Acosta said that Huppenthal has long been picking out certain “inflammatory” quotes that seem to incite hatred towards white people without taking in the entire context of the material.

“They pulled out these inflammatory quotes to scare people,” Acosta said as he explained how his own class got pulled in the past. “The same thing’s happening here, where you’re seeing a picking apart of novels or books or unit plans to build a case rather than to see it in its holistic environment.”

The state education department gave Tucson schools an early March deadline to have all the programs removed from the schools.

If they don’t have the programs removed, he warns that they will lose up to 10 percent of their state funding.

With Huppenthal on his way out the door, however, the schools aren’t willing to give in to his demands.

Administrators say they will discuss some sort of solution with Diane Douglas, the Republican who was sworn in on Monday and will be taking over for Huppenthal.

This isn’t the first time Huppenthal has done something like this.

Back in 2010, he helped pass a law that was later used to ban another Mexican-American studies program from Tucson schools.

He also claimed that this program bred anger towards whites.


Back to top