This might be strange coming from a middle class white girl, but I find Tupac Shakur fascinating. About a year ago, I was researching the topic of accent prejudice (prescriptive versus descriptive grammar) and decided to narrow my focus to African American Vernacular English (AAVE). There is a lot that I could say about the research and the contents of the final essay, but in sum, accent prejudice has far-reaching implications with heavy roots in classism and racism. The reason I mention this paper at all is because Shakur’s work is an excellent example of someone refusing to bow to societal pressure to speak in “acceptable” prescriptive ways.
While I researched, I listened to a lot of his music–not all of it, and I’m still not vastly familiar with his canon of work. I read the lyrics to his songs and looked up some of his non-musical poetry. Prior to this research, all I knew about Shakur was that he had a cult following and that a lot of people doubt his death. What I ended up learning was that he was incredibly smart, he had an intense work ethic, and he used his art as a tool to dismantle systems of oppression. Would that I could be as impressive an artist as he was.
There is really so much that can be said about Tupac, and I am not the person to say it. I admire him and his work, but he is not my personal icon. I feel like that would be appropriative. Rather than say more, I’ll leave you with this video of Tupac rapping “Keep Ya Head Up” to high school students in the early ’90s.
**I realize that there was basically a month’s break in blogging, which really defeats the purpose of this challenge, but there has been a lot going on in my personal life, and I’ve been very busy with work and school. I apologize for not updating sooner!