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Hip-hop feminism headlines 'Rap Sessions' at Connecticut College April 9

NEW LONDON, Conn. - Connecticut College senior Heather Day is proof that it is possible to be a feminist and love hip hop. People seem to get the feminist thing, she says. But hip-hop - how can you be a feminist and like hip-hop?

But Day has learned to turn the juxtaposition of her two loves into activism, using hip-hop as a means to empower youths and launch discussions about gender, sexism and homophobia.

"Over the last 30 years, hip-hop culture has proven itself to be a positive force in the lives of many young people - as an artistic medium, a business opportunity and a tool for social activism," Day said. "Despite these constructive influences, arguably the most well-known fact about the culture today is that rap lyrics and music videos frequently degrade women. For many, the term 'hip-hop' has become synonymous with misogyny and homophobia."

April 9, Day, with the help of several campus sponsors, is bringing the debate to Connecticut College with a group of the nation's foremost hip-hop scholars and activists affiliated with Rap Sessions - a nationally touring group that brings issues in the hip-hop community to the forefront with town hall-style meetings. "Rap Sessions: Community Dialogue on Gender and Hip-Hop," will be held from 4:30 6:30 p.m. in room 014 of the F.W. Olin Science Center and is free and open to the public.

Featured panelists are:

- Hip-hop journalist Joan Morgan, author of "When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: My Life as a Hip-Hop Feminist"

- Filmmaker Byron Hurt, director of "Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes," a film about misogyny and hip-hop

- Professor Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, director of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbuilt University and author of "Pimps Up, Hos Down: Hip Hop and the New Gender Politics"

- Professor Raquel Z. Rivera, sociology professor at Tufts University and author of "New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone"

The panel will be moderated by Bakari Kitwana, a journalist, activist and political analyst and author of "The Hip-Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Cultures," which has been adopted as a course book in classrooms at more than 100 colleges and universities.

For more information about Rap Sessions, visit

This event is sponsored by The Jamestown Project, Campus Progress, The Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, Connecticut College Student Life, CCSRE, the Holleran Center, Student Activities Council, Dean of the College Community, Unity House and affiliated Student Clubs, Dean of Multicultural Affairs, Gender and Women's Studies, American Studies, History, English, Human Development, Sociology. Music by DJ E@zy.

About Connecticut College

Situated on the coast of southern New England, Connecticut College is a highly selective private liberal arts college with 1900 students from all across the country and throughout the world. On the college's 750-acre arboretum campus overlooking Long Island Sound, students and faculty create a vibrant social, cultural and intellectual community enriched by diverse perspectives. The college, founded in 1911, is known for its unique combination of interdisciplinary studies, international programs, funded internships, student-faculty research and service learning.

For more information, visit

-- CC --

March 24, 2009