I have been looking forward to this movie for two years now; I teach a unit on the 1980s in which I center my lesson around the rise of gangsta rap and N.W.A. I showcase this narrative in an attempt to link social history to macro political matters of race, class, and oppression. I grew up in this world and listening to this stuff.
I am writing a new winter term course that looks at urban violence and oppression, under funded schools, riots (Baltimore, Detroit, Tulsa, L.A., etc), vice, poverty, and racism as prison pipelines. I will draw a great deal from Michelle Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow.” For the past 6 years, I have taught the 1980s through the lens of gangsta rap; I highlight N.W.A. as students critique F**K the Police and Straight Outta Compton. Our commentary centers around attitudes of national politics and economics. In teaching historical contextualization, I link Cold War ideology and Reaganism to violence in Compton and the rise of gangsta rap. I have flipped this lesson into a paper to be published.
I hope to use this paper in helping teachers think about contextualization as a historical thinking skill when teaching race and politics during the 1980s. I have a number of pragmatic ideas for students in this course. I am working to link my scholarship and academic interest to urban ministries, prisons, and community reforms. I love what my former student, Grace Elizabeth Munford, said about this lesson: “Did a small happy dance and freaked out when I saw the Straight Outta Compton trailer. Brought me back to my favorite day in your class.”