Segments in this Video

So You're White and You Listen to Rap (02:21)


A profile of a white, suburban young person who loves hip-hop music is offered up as part of a larger racial discussion. Does liking rap music have to be racial? Is this a post-racial America?

White Students in Hip-Hop Battle (02:11)

At the University of Indiana, a white student defends his participation in a freestyle hip-hop battle, begging the question: does he transcend racial boundaries or perpetuate a tradition of degrading racial mimicry?

Stolen Culture (03:03)

Comedian Paul Mooney performs a routine about white people stealing black culture and identity. Black artists discuss the history of exploitation of black culture and the unjust phenomenon of white musicians excelling in traditionally black musical genres.

White Rappers, Minstrelsy, & Acting Black (03:35)

Mooney claims white rappers are an extension of the blackface tradition and only narrowly understand and represent the black experience. A montage of film clips and interviews features white people "acting black."

Imitation as Flattery (01:33)

White rap fans and amateur performers describe their initial draw to rap music and the way the , at first, copied what they liked.

Defining "Wigger" (02:07)

People often call white rappers "wiggers," mocking their attraction to black culture.

History of "White Boys Who Stole the Blues" (01:35)

One expert details the lineage of white artists who imitate and produce traditionally black culture, including Eminem, Elvis, Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin, and Jack Kerouac.

Vanilla Ice's "Novelty Act" (01:36)

Vanilla Ice describes his early career as image-based and inauthentic. His story about growing up on the streets was a fabrication.

Significance of Authenticity in Hip-Hop Culture (03:22)

The Hush Hip-Hop Tour takes white tourists to New York landmarks from hip-hop history, exploiting mass fascination with black culture. White hip-hop artists describe their attraction to non-white cultures.

"Made Me Want to Not Act White" (01:22)

White rapper, Sage Francis, describes his adolescent boredom with other music and his love of hip-hop.

"Wigger" as an Innocent Term (02:10)

The narrator recalls his personal experience of being called a "wigger," which was humiliating at his Washington, D.C. school. High school girls discuss the negative implications of the word 20 years later.

"Wigger" Race Riots (03:29)

A white woman in Morocco, Indiana remembers being harassed for "dressing black" at her high school, where many students promoted the KKK. She recalls wanting "cool."

Black Perspectives on the Black/White Cultural Divide (02:29)

Black artists describe hip-hop as a cultural melting pot and an education in unheard stories. Amiri Baraka claims racism perpetuates disunity among the classes and keeps poor white people from examining their own exploitation.

The Al Jolson Dillema (04:14)

Though Al Jolson is remembered as the poster boy for political incorrectness, his fans and scholars note the complexity of his performances. They remark on the affection for black culture and rebellion in his music.

Appeal of the "Other Side of the Tracks" (01:57)

Experts discuss the quality of "otherness" which attracts white artists to black culture. In the late 1980s, gangsta rap records sold surprisingly to white audiences.

Hyper-Masculinity (01:25)

Competitors at a University of Indiana freestyle battle prepare and perform. One expert claims hip-hop gives white men a "license to be masculine."

Performing Blackness: Improv Comedy (01:51)

Actors in the sketch and improv group "Crack'd Owt" dress up and perform as rappers on crack. They describe the element of fantasy in their performance, claiming their audience shares their fantasy.

Performing Blackness: Hip-Hop Cover Band (02:53)

One hip-hop producer describes hip-hop music as giving white people access to "the hood" without having to experience it. A hip-hop cover band, Too White Crew," explain their style.

Performing Blackness: Mixed Reactions & Subconscious Intentions (03:32)

Members of Crack'd Owt and Too White Crew defend their respective styles, while critics link them to minstrelsy. The narrator wonders if mimicking blackness is the subconscious nature of white America.

Entertainment that Dulls the Senses (02:58)

Experts explain the exploitation that occurs when white performers mimic black performers, pointing out how consumer culture fails to analyze and criticize entertainment. Audience members have mixed reactions to Crack'd Owt, while comedian Paul Mooney maintains there's no excuse for their performance.

"Did You Ever Wish You Were Black?" (02:31)

White rappers speak candidly about wishing to change or nullify their racial identity.

"I'm Black Because You're White" (01:06)

Scholars discuss the divide between black and white people, calling the boundary itself more unnatural and artificial than the desire to cross it.

The Grey Area (01:31)

The narrator closes with a question: when is imitation innocent, and when is it degrading?

Credits: Blacking Up: Hip-Hop’s Remix Of Race And Identity (00:50)

Credits: Blacking Up: Hip-Hop’s Remix Of Race And Identity

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Blacking Up: Hip-Hop’s Remix of Race and Identity

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Hip-hop music was created by urban youth of color amid racial oppression and economic marginalization, but was quickly embraced by young people worldwide. This documentary examines the popularity of hip-hop among America’s white youth and asks whether the trend is rooted in admiration, or merely a new form of stereotyping, blackface mimicry, and cultural appropriation. With commentary from Amiri Baraka, Chuck D, Russell Simmons, and others, the film also looks at African-American influence on Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones, and presents a revealing analysis of how rapper Vanilla Ice was marketed to mainstream audiences. (57 minutes)

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL49772

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

Winner of the American Library Association’s 2011 Notable Videos for Adults Award

“A much-needed anecdote to much of the unsophisticated analysis of youth culture that floods our airways and our newspapers.” —Lonnie Bunch, National Museum of African American History & Culture

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

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