Featured Video Play Icon

blacking up: hip-hop’s remix of race and identity

This trailer comes from the 2010 documentary, “Blacking Up: Hip-Hop’s Remix of Race and Identity”, produced by filmmaker and professor Robert Clift. As described in the film’s promotional materials, “The film presents a diverse group of white rap fans (often referred to by derogatory terms such as “wannabe” or “wigger”) and performers with very different ways of expressing their relationship to Hip-Hop music and culture.” With contributions from amateurs, professionals like Vanilla Ice, and African American scholars Amiri Baraka, the film investigates key questions about whites and the world of hip-hop: “When is it adoration, and when is it mockery?” the narrator ponders. “When is it fun and when is it blacking up?”


Does the participation of whites in hip-hop culture stem from admiration and an interest in moving beyond racial discrimination, or is it merely a new method in a long history of white Americans stereotyping, mocking and appropriating the works of African Americans?

Why do you think so many young white Americans find the hip-hop culture of African Americans so appealing?

Do white Americans have a right to participate in hip-hop culture, or should African Americans be able to set the agenda for the art form? Is there some middle ground? A “right” way for whites to go about getting involved in hip-hop?

Our Funders