After more than his fair share of, shall we say, “resistance” (there are better words for it but I’ll leave it there since I am feelin celebratory today… expect more on that later), Dr. Todd Craig, one of my advisees, successfully defended his doctoral dissertation yesterday!
This dissertation is an examination of Hip Hop DJ Rhetoric based on Craig’s own life-story alongside more than 9o interviews with foundational Hip Hop deejays whose literacies, rhetorics, and ideologies are, often for the first time, magnificently centered. To open his dissertation defense, Dr. Craig, of course, spun a set that merged the music, quotations, and samples from all of his first chapter so that we could hear, in yet another fantastic way, what that first dissertation chapter was dropping.
These deejays— more aptly described by Dr. Craig as “mixologists and turntable technicians, beat-blending specialists, scratch scientists and musical grandmasters”— are theorized as the “21st century new media reader, writer, and literary critic.” It is the Hip Hop deejay whose tastes decide what gets poppin in the streets as well as how turntables, headphones, mixers, and computer software are now engineered and re-invented. Yes, yes, yall… and that’s just the first paragraph of the literature review. That’s all I will reveal for now but when this dissertation drops as a book, let’s just say, I tole you so! Despite all the naysayers, haters, lynch-mobbers, and supremacists, this thing is real and can’t be stopped! To quote Dr. Craig, when he quotes Havoc of Mobb Deep: “this is all the way live/and the way that I survive.”
As if fate had finally kissed me on the forehead, one of my undergraduate mentees, Valerie, came back to the university (she already graduated) to tell me, just minutes before this dissertation defense, that she was accepted at all nine medical schools to which she applied… and this, despite, being told by a wanna-be-prominent white male administrator that medical schools no longer accept “unqualified” “black girls” like her. I’m looking forward to the health research and advocacy that she will do on black people’s behalf and the way she already knows how to keep those fighting embers and inner shine glowing.
There have been few days in my academic career so far that I can chalk up with some positivity. But, to quote Cube from way back when, I got to say it was a good day.