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The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back

Youth, Activism and Post-Civil Rights Politics

Andreana Clay

Publication Year: 2012

From youth violence, to the impact of high stakes educational testing, to editorial hand wringing over the moral failures of hip-hop culture, young people of color are often portrayed as gang affiliated, “troubled,” and ultimately, dangerous. The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back examines how youth activism has emerged to address the persistent inequalities that affect urban youth of color. Andreana Clay provides a detailed account of the strategies that youth activists use to frame their social justice agendas and organize in their local communities.


Based on two years of fieldwork with youth affiliated with two non-profit organizations in Oakland, California, The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back shows how youth integrate the history of social movement activism of the 1960s, popular culture strategies like hip-hop and spoken word, as well as their experiences in the contemporary urban landscape, to mobilize their peers.  Ultimately, Clay's comparison of the two youth organizations and their participants expands our understandings of youth culture, social movements, popular culture, and race and ethnic relations. 

Published by: NYU Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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p. v

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pp. vii-x

The completion of this book has been a long and rewarding process, much of which has been collaborative. I have been nurtured and sustained by community, in all forms. From my first introduction to the two organizations and the youth I write about here to the writing groups that encouraged me through the final push...

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1. Youth: Crisis, Rebellion, and Identity

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pp. 1-21

As a teenager, I read Nelson Mandela: the Man and the Movement, by Mary Bensen.1 I was mesmerized by the story of his life as an activist: how he joined the African National Congress (ANC), developed a military branch of the organization, was indicted and spent twenty-seven years in prison, separated...

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2. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: The Contemporary Struggle

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pp. 23-53

At almost any point along Skyline Boulevard in Oakland, you can see the San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge, and on clear days the Golden Gate Bridge. To the west, the beaches on the island of Alameda and the Port of Oakland spill into the Bay. Directly below, the rest of the city of Oakland looks alive. In contrast to the peace...

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3. It’s Gonna Get Hard: Negotiating Race and Gender in Urban Settings

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pp. 55-89

It was a cycle. For years, Oakland experienced interracial and interethnic violence at almost every public high school in the city. One year, at Washington High School, school coaches agreed that soccer teams could use the football field on campus to practice.1 Unfortunately, Black and Samoan football players were not notified...

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4. Hip-Hop for the Soul: Kickin’ Reality in the Local Scene

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pp. 91-119

On a surprisingly warm day in March, I attended a “Youth Solidarity” event at Bayview High School, sponsored by Teen Justice. The Youth Solidarity week was an annual event that Teen Justice organized on school campuses, which focused on raising awareness about various social justice issues. ...

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5. Queer Youth Act Up: Tackling Homophobia Post-Stonewall

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pp. 121-152

I use Gloria Anzaldúa and Harvey Milk’s words to frame the queer experience for youth of color, post–civil rights. Not only do these youth navigate racism, ageism, homophobia, and abandonment as other youth in this study have, but they must also carve out a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Queer (LGBTQ) identity in the San Francisco...

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6. Big Shoes to Fill: Activism Past and Present

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pp. 153-179

The youth at Teen Justice and Multicultural Alliance participated in social change in a number of ways: through the Youth Center collaborative, anti-oppression workshops, hip-hop culture, and interactive theater. In this chapter, I explore these activities in relationship to popular and academic definitions of activism. Specifically, I ask if these activities, values, tools, and identities that the youth have...

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7. Conclusion: Sampling Activism

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pp. 181-190

On November 4, 2008, Barack Hussein Obama was elected president of the United States. Personally, I was overcome with emotion: he was the first Black president. I immediately called my eighty-two-year-old grandmother, who is Black, and my mother and father, and we cried about this historic moment. ...

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Appendix - Notes on Navigating “the Field”: Insider Status, Authority, and Audience

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pp. 191-197

Recently, I received a text from one of the participants in this book, with whom I have maintained contact since I conducted this research. The text read, “I’m having an identity crisis. How did you know you were into girls?” Since we met, when she was a teenager, and now as a young adult, she has entered into her first relationship with a woman. ...


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pp. 199-213


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pp. 215-222


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pp. 223-229

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About the Author

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p. 230

Andreana Clay is Associate Professor of Sociology at San Francisco State University.

E-ISBN-13: 9780814763742
E-ISBN-10: 0814717160
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814717165
Print-ISBN-10: 0814717160

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 799768551
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Youth -- United States -- Social conditions -- 21st century.
  • Youth -- United States -- Social life and customs -- 21st century.
  • Youth -- Political activity -- United States.
  • Social movements -- United States -- History -- 21st century.
  • Hip-hop.
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