Need Something to Blame, Why Not Hip-hop?

A speaker at last week’s teaching conference blamed the erosion of values on “Chuck E. Cheese” and “hip-hop culture.” Those were his exact words. Now I know that he was trying to make a point and while I agree with him that values do seem to be falling by the wayside, I can’t concede these points to him.

This speaker was an Aboriginal who referred to himself as an Indian. He talked about the problems that Aboriginal students face. I heard his messages echoed throughout the conference from teachers who have taught on reserves. I know that their traditional ways of thinking and behaving are being slowly being eroded. Some of the Native languages are being lost.

People are influenced by everything. I know that there are some violent video games and messages in rap songs that aren’t really appropriate for children. But blaming the art is too easy a thing to do.

I know that my parents educated me to what music and images are all about. This is a parent’s job. I wasn’t allowed to watch restricted movies when I was a kid. My parents didn’t let me listen to music full of swear words. They closely examined the media I was consuming and made me question the images and presentation of movies and music. I am glad that they did. I can separate the fact from the fiction in music, video games, and television.

The speaker at the conference obviously wasn’t well prepared for his speech. I think he invented examples and made up statistics. I, for one, know that Chuck E. Cheese does not have violent video games. I have taken children there several times and it is a very family friendly atmosphere.

And of course, the irony of him talking about Aboriginal culture and blaming “hip-hop culture” wasn’t lost on me. If he had said certain songs on the radio give children the wrong idea, I would wholeheartedly agree, but he said “hip-hop culture.” He was trying to get us to understand his culture and situation but he dissed my culture.

He probably didn’t know that some teachers are part of the hip-hop culture he was disrespecting. He probably doesn’t even understand that hip-hop is a culture. He showed his ignorance.

Fortunately, I had a chance to rebuff this at the next workshop. The presenter there opened up the floor by asking us what we wanted to remember about the morning’s seminars. I spoke up. I know that she didn’t understand me either. She said, “You want to remember that?” I stressed the use of his word “culture.” To my surprise, she added my point to the list on the chart paper. She wrote, “Respect all cultures.” Good advice and something to keep in mind.