USC Upstate News

Black History Month Event Examines Black Femininity in Rap Music

02- 05- 2009

Spartanburg, S.C. - The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, together with Campus Life at the University of South Carolina Upstate, will welcome guest speaker Dr. Aida Harvey Wingfield as part of the University’s celebration of Black History Month. On Monday, February 9, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. at USC Upstate’s Campus Life Center Ballroom, Dr. Wingfield will present: “He Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Me! Young Black Women’s Perceptions of Black Femininity in Rap Music Videos.” 

In the wake of Don Imus’ now-infamous description of members of the Rutgers’ University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes,” representations of black women in hip hop culture have become the subject of much media controversy and debate.  In academic circles, feminist researchers have long argued that images of black women in hip hop (and in mainstream media at large) reinforce gendered racist ideals. Yet there is little study of how black women interpret media images of women, and what research does exist typically emphasizes black women’s critiques of media glorification of white femininity and their ability to reject these particular images as unrealistic.  In this study, we shift the focus to examine how young black women interpret images of black femininity, particularly when those images are widely labeled oppressive and objectifying. This work thus contributes to the research that explores women’s perceptions of media images, and offers a broader context in which to situate public debates about race, gender, sexuality, and hip hop culture.

Dr. Aida Harvey Wingfield is an assistant professor of sociology at Georgia State University.  Most of her research examines how intersections of race, gender, and class are experienced by different groups in various occupations and workplaces.  Some of her recent work examines black workers in finance and minority teachers in independent school settings, and her research on black women entrepreneurs was the subject of her first book, Doing Business with Beauty: Black Women, Hair Salons, and the Racial Enclave Economy (Rowman & Littlefield).  Her work has appeared in several peer-reviewed journals including Gender & Society, Race, Class, and Gender, and Sociological Spectrum.

For further information contact Dr. Lisa Johnson at (864) 503-5724.