Hip-hop is its own unique culture, complete with music, fashion and art.
Dr. Ashley Payne, assistant professor of psychology at Missouri State University, studies how hip-hop plays a role forming racial, gender, sexual and academic identities. She also looks at a major player in U.S. culture: social media.
“How are hip-hop artists presenting themselves on social media? How are they representing themselves with their music on social media,” asks Payne. “And how are adolescents looking at that – and how are college women looking at that – repackaging it and implementing that into their own identity development processes?”
Hip-hop and Black female identities
Social movements show up in music
Payne points out that social movements and political discourse has long been evident in hip-hop. The music has often shown a light on the disparities and tragedies of the Black experience.
She shares how movements, like Black Lives Matter and Me Too, permeate the culture.
“Artists integrate those movements into their music and online personas,” she said. “Young women see the strength in the women artists who are doing these things, and they take that strength and implement it into their own social environments.”
Local high school students participate in study
To take the pulse of young Black women, Payne established a mentoring program this spring, called Black Girls Talks. Payne modeled it after a program she led at her previous institution in Memphis.
“They talked a lot about different identities they see within hip-hop and within social media, and how to navigate that as a young Black woman,” she said.
In Black Girls Talks, MSU students are paired with a group of young women at Central High School, facilitated by Armando Johnson.
“I’m starting small now,” Payne said. “Hopefully, as the years progress, we will be able to go into different schools.”