Moving Mountains, Gaining Ground? Assessing Black Cultural Power

Dr. Lisa Brock,
Dr. Stephanie Shonekan,
Dr. Cadence Wynter
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In the 1960s, black people around the world moved mountains but did they gain ground? Often the answer to that question has been in the details of implementation. Over forty years later, an evaluation of the place of Black peoples reveals that they remain on the periphery, on the socio-economic margins of power. However, black music genres from the 1960s to the present have, to various degrees, embodied a kind of "cultural power", which served as both the engine and background to black struggles around the world; even inspiring non-blacks to borrow, use, manipulate and coop. As these three workshop facilitators develop a new black world studies program within the vibrant atmosphere of Columbia College Chicago and its Cultural Studies curriculum, they seek to raise questions about "the power of black music" to borrow the title of Samuel Floyd's seminal work. What is the difference between "cultural power" and "socio-economic power?" Does the power of black music lie in its ability to inspire, teach, raise consciousness or is it largely ear-candy intent on evoking booty-shaking? Positioned in the middle of this dialectic is the black artist: writer, performer, choreographer, videographer, etc. In fact, what is the relationship between the "black performer" and the music industry and how does this relationship shape its "power" locus? Who makes money from black music and towards what ends? The ultimate goal of the workshop is to discuss ways of understanding Black cultural power, its relationship to struggle, and the continued oppression of large sectors of black communities throughout world.

Keywords: African Diaspora, Music and Hip Hop, Politics and Power, Identity
Stream: History, Historiography, Political Science, Politics, Ethnicity, Difference, Identity
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Lisa Brock

Chair, Professor of History and Cultural Studies, Department of Liberal Education, Columbia College Chicago

Dr. Stephanie Shonekan

Professor of Humanities and Cultural Studies, Department of Liberal Education, Columbia College Chicago

Dr. Cadence Wynter

Professor of History, Department of Liberal Education, Columbia College Chicago

Ref: H05P0361