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December 5, 2023
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December 6, 2023

Hip Hop Versus the “Just-Us” System: 50 Years of Creative Resistance

January 15, 2024 | 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm | UM Detroit Center

University of Michigan Detroit Center


This panel discussion, to take place at the UM Detroit Center following the keynote address watch party, will explore the ongoing struggle for social justice as reflected in hip hop culture and music, seen in relation to the rise of mass incarceration, police violence, and other forms of structural racism over the last fifty years. Building off Paul Butler’s “hip hop theory of justice”, the panel will center the perspective of Detroit and other cities in contrast to the dominant narratives of urban decline and racist stereotypes that fueled “tough on crime” policies and resulted in the hyper-incarcerarion of Brown and Black people. The panelists will consider how hip hop has chronicled the evolution of the prison industrial complex and responded with both creativity and critique. In keeping with the theme of the MLK Symposium, we ask: How does hip hop culture challenge and resist systems of oppression while also imagining alternative possibilities for “Transforming the Jangling Discords of Our Nation into a Beautiful Symphony”?

Watch the live stream


Quan Neloms, Lecturer at UM-Dearborn and founder of Detroit-based Lyricist Society, as well as Rebeka Farrugia and Kellie Hay, Professors of Communication at Oakland University and co-authors of Women Rapping Revolution: Hip Hop and Community Building in Detroit (2020), and Neptune XXI, hip hop performer and artist from Philadelphia, PA.

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