Hip-hop film to inspire awareness

In honor of April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the UH Women’s Resource Center presents Byron Hurt’s movie Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, which explores the meaning behind the lyrics and the issues facing hip-hop music.

The event, which begins at 7 p.m. today in the Cullen Performance Hall, is free and open to the public.

Beverley McPhail, director of the WRC, said hip-hop music is a great way to discuss issues such as sexism, racism, classism, violence against women and how masculinity and femininity are constructed.

Last year, the center brought in a national speaker and screened a film on sexual assault and rape. ‘

‘People seemed to back off because the topic seemed too intense,’ McPhail said.’ ‘Hip-hop provides a great vehicle for us to talk about complex issues in a way that attracts more people because it is about music, the beats and the rhymes.’

Hurt has led talks across the country as an anti-sexism activist, educator and filmmaker. His documentary features rappers Busta Rhymes and LL Cool J, as well as other artists at the forefront of the hip-hop industry.

‘It was a powerful film because (Hurt) looks at everyone’s role in it, ,’ McPhail said. ‘He talks about whether rappers have the responsibility for what they are putting out there and questions how women present themselves physically and how the white-corporate-media heads are shaping the music industry.’

Hurt will lead a discussion on the topics addressed in his film.

McPhail said that she hopes that by the end of the event, young men see that women are not just sexual objects and that young women see that they don’t have to buy into the media depictions of women about body and sexuality.

‘Women are whole, complete ,complex human beings, and yes body and sexuality are important, but so are our minds and careers,’ McPhail said.

Psychology senior Victoria Reyes said hip-hop music has evolved throughout the years and has unfortunately turned into just selling music that will make the most money. Reyes said she is interested in what Hurt has to say at the event.

‘From what I know so far, I can pretty much see that we share the same type of views, and I would like to know how he proposes we – as a society -start making a change,’ Reyes said.

Civil Engineering senior Ujval Patel said many times the beat of the music outweighs the meaning behind the lyrics for the song.

‘When I first listen to a song, the beat is the first thing I notice. If the beat is good, then the lyrics are worth analyzing. After realizing there is nothing positive to gain, I’ve felt at least the beat is good to listen to,’ Patel said.

Prior to the event, Cougar Peer Educators will hold Take Back the Night, where men and women will march around campus to promote sexual assault awareness around campus.’

Take Back the Night will start at 5:30 p.m. on the steps of the University Center, and end at the Ezekiel W. Cullen Building in time for the Women’s Resource Center event. ‘

The first 10 participants at the march will receive a free T-shirt.

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