As part of the Aspire2Higher Movement, where people are empowered to define and develop their own success; we offer programming and events that reveal, explore, amplify and interrogate both hip hop and higher education and the intersections between the two. Additionally, we have launched a line of merchandise as an extension of these efforts.
We created our merchandise to affirm the intersectional and “Scholarly Swag” of queer people, black people, Hispanic and Latin X people, and hip hop heads.
As you know, my career has been in higher education and that is where I refined my skills in creating highly engaging educational events that have a basis in hip hop music and culture. The idea for a t-shirt and merchandise line also grew out of my experience in higher education. My work in higher education focused on uplifting and empowering students who often feel marginalized and even ignored in educational and traditional academic spaces. I have been utilizing hip hop as a cultural marker in my work to connect with a diverse student population. Our T-shirts are meant to amplify the voices and experiences of those students.
Our designs are also meant to motivate BIPOC, Queer & Trans educators and scholars. The feelings of marginalization and isolation felt in “the academy” were also experienced by people teaching and working there. I also sought to spotlight hip hop as an industry that is a legitimate line of work where leadership and black excellence exist; just as it does in other industries. With this merchandise, we also seek to affirm for hip hop heads, hip hop scholars, emcees, producers, and the like; that your scholarship is hip hop.
All of these ideas and experiences led to me being in the right space at the right time. In my first year working in higher ed in Raleigh, NC, I found myself in close proximity to the very first hip hop festival in the region (The Dreamville Festival). So, I shot my shot. I recruited a strong team, I proposed that my institution find ways to connect this festival to our mission and curriculum and we had a very successful hip hop & higher education symposium (pictured above).
Bringing this into the current year where COVID still has many of us holding events virtually, A2H has most recently partnered with the Ladies Luv Hip Hop platform. tomorrow we are releasing a brand new podcast titled, “Hip Hop IS Higher Ed”. On this podcast (just as in my previous work) we will explore how hip hop is a form of education, how it feeds intellectual curiosity, and how hip hop offers its audience unique forms of critical analysis. Please tune in to the podcast on Apple or SoundCloud, every first Tuesday of the month!
So, if any of this resonates with you and/or describes you or your experiences, order your merchandise and FOLLOW OUR PODCAST today… and proudly AMPLIFY YOUR SCHOLARLY SWAG!