Hip-Hop Feminist Journalist Joan Morgan Discusses the Changing Dynamics of Race and Ethnicity in America

February 14, 2014

Pioneering hip-hop journalist and provocative cultural critic Joan Morgan will present the weekly convocation address at Carleton College on Friday, Feb. 21 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. Entitled “Is America ‘Post-Racial’?,” Morgan’s presentation will take a look at the changing racial and ethnic composition of America. This event is free and open to the public. Convocations are also streamed live and can be viewed online at go.carleton.edu/convo/.

In light of the candidacy and election of President Barack Obama, Morgan takes a look at the changing racial and ethnic composition of America since Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963 and examines several insightful questions: What would Dr. King make of the changing makeup of America and its impact on America's black and white racial binary? Who are we talking about in the 21st century, when we use the term African American? How useful is it to still use the terms Black and African American interchangeably? And finally, what impact does this heterogeneous and multi-ethnic American Blackness have on the country from a political, social and economic perspective? 

Morgan is an award-winning journalist and author whose work offers provocative insights into issues of race and gender. She began her professional writing career freelancing at The Village Voice, where her passion and commitment to accurate documentation of hip-hop culture combined with adept cultural criticism placed her at the forefront of music journalism. She was one of the original staff writers at Vibe magazine and a contributing editor and columnist for Spin. She has also written for Ms., More, Interview, Working Mother, GIANT, andEssence, where she also served as executive editor.

Her article “The Pro-Rape Culture” explored the issues of race and gender in the case of the Central Park jogger. The article and the heated response to it quickly established Morgan’s reputation as a black-feminist writer who was unafraid of tackling the most highly charged topics. Two years later, The Village Voice asked Morgan to cover the rape trial of Mike Tyson. Her insightful coverage earned her an EMMA (Excellence Merit Media Award) from the National Woman’s Political Caucus.

Morgan coined the term “hip-hop feminism” in 1999, when she published the groundbreaking book, “When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down” (Simon & Schuter). The book has been used in college coursework across the country. Fresh, witty and irreverent, it marked the literary debut of one of the most original, perceptive and engaging young social commentators in America today. Frequently reprinted, her work appears in numerous college texts, as well as books on feminism, music and African-American culture.

Regarded internationally as an expert on the topics of hip-hop and gender, Morgan has made numerous television and radio appearances — among them MTV, BET, VH-1, Like It Is, and CNN. Morgan has lectured at high schools and colleges across the country. She joined esteemed members of the hip-hop intelligentsia — Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, hip-hop historian Bakari Kitwana, filmmaker Byron Hurt, feminist author and scholar Dr. Tracey Sharpley Whiting and others — on a 12 city tour “Does Hip-Hop Hate Women” which brought national attention to the growing misogyny, sexism and homophobia in hip-hop culture.

Born in Jamaica, raised in the South Bronx, she graduated from Wesleyan University. Currently a Scholar in Residence at Vanderbilt University, Morgan resides in upstate New York. 

For more information about this event, including disability accommodations, contact the Carleton College Office of College Relations at(507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located on First Street between College and Winona Streets in Northfield.