klatsch \KLAHCH\ , noun: A casual gathering of people, esp. for refreshments and informal conversation [German Klatsch, from klatschen, to gossip, make a sharp noise, of imitative origin.] (Dictionary.com)
Dear Readers: ¡Regina Bradley, Presente! —J. Stoever-Ackerman, Editor-in-Chief
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, which sounds remind you of the Freedom Struggle today?
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About Regina N. Bradley
Dr. Regina N. Bradley is a writer, scholar, and researcher of African American Life and Culture. She is a recipient of the Nasir Jones HipHop Fellowship at Harvard University (Spring 2016) and an Assistant Professor of English and African Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA. Dr. Bradley's expertise and research interests include hip hop culture, race and the contemporary U.S. South, and sound studies.
Dr. Bradley's current book project, Chronicling Stankonia: Recognizing America's Hip Hop South (under contract, UNC Press), explores how hip hop (with emphasis on the southern hip hop duo Outkast) and popular culture update conversations about the American South to include the post-Civil Rights era.
Also known as Red Clay Scholar, a nod to her Georgia upbringing, Regina maintains a critically acclaimed blog and personal website – www.redclayscholar.com.
i’m SO going to use this prompt in my Race & Gender course and Racial Minorities in the US.
Sounds of Blackness “Optimisitic” was the first song I thought of when presented with this question. It definitely gives off a “freedom” vibe to me when I hear it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PFT76dmJPw
Also Shana Redmond’s work would definitely be helpful. . .I wonder if we can ask her for her thoughts. . .
Her new book: Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora
The question encourages me to reflect on the songs that I hear today that remind me of that great mobilization in 1964 but also lends itself to thinking through “Freedom Struggle today”–those sounds that highlight contemporary mobilizations.
I’ve been thinking recently about the Freedom Schools; one contemporary song reflective of the spirit of the ’64 pedagogical rebellion is Lupe Fiasco’s “Dumb it Down” (2008) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1Et1siZhTk
Jasiri X is one of the folks most publicly engaged with contemporary political movements and revolts, from Palestine to Florida. His “Strange Fruit (Class of 2013)” brings into conversation a series of murders reflective of ongoing Black U.S. vulnerabilities. It does a certain work, alongside Fiasco, to reinvent what Black music is by insisting on what it does. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4mvb7LefAg
Your question makes me think of Martha Vandella’s “Dancing in the Streets” and the way it operated as an affective anthem and shared pop music experience important to the uprisings of 1965–even though not explicitly “political” in the traditional sense of an audio verite represention of struggle via lyrics. It operated sonically and also by signifyin(g). Can you think of songs that operate in this fashion now?
I think that’s important too is that music and sound are fluid enough spaces that definitions can be messy. I’m thinking Big K.R.I.T.’s Mt Olympus updates the struggle discourse but uh…I’m biased.
I’m grappling with this question in my own work these last few months. I think it’s important that sound can be utilized to complicate/fracture the meaning of freedom in the 21st century, especially in the south. The south is rarely viewed or considered a “free” space for folks of color even after the Civil Rights Movement. I’m interested in the way freedom struggles manifest in the south today, especially in hip hop. One of my favorite examples is by Goodie Mob, “Free.”