Democracy Matters - Episode 18: Tearing the Veil From the Bottom Up: Civic Engagement thru Hip-Hop

by Carah Ong Whaley


In 1897, W.E.B Du Bois wrote, ‘Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in common contempt, and lived above it in a region of blue sky and great wandering shadows.” In Du Bois’ writing, the veil was a metaphor racism and the practices of segregation that excluded and marginalized Blacks in America. 

In this episode, we talk with Dr. Jarrit Ahmed Sheel, Assistant Professor of Music Education at Berklee College of Music, who spent a week as the College of Visual and Performing Arts Cultural Connections Artist in Residence at JMU. Like Du Bois, Jarrit Ahmed Sheel also combines history, philosophy and music to deeply engage his students and audiences in efforts to tear down veils of exclusion and marginalization, whether they’re race-based or class-based. Dr. Sheel conceptualizes hip-hop as a culture of the marginalized, as well as a global (global) phenomena that has been engaging people in dialogue through the arts and culture of the movement for over 40 years. Hip-Hop has allowed many to create positive in their communities throughout the world, giving voice to the voiceless or marginalized, and subverting power to the powerless through defiant acts against the status quo, democratic participation and bottom-up organization strewn throughout hip-hop.



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Published: Sunday, March 29, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday, April 28, 2022

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