Dr. Bettina Love lectures on hip-hop and ‘the Act of Remembering’

Dr. Bettina Love, who studied education theory and practice at University of Georgia, came to the Sister Circle Conference, sponsored by African American Programs and Services, as a keynote speaker Friday. In wake of her TED talk scheduled online, March 28, she gave a preview of the message found in her book, “The Act of Remembering.”

Love’s message includes “transforming urban classrooms through non-traditional learning techniques such as hip-hop” in “the act of remembering.”

The act of remembering is remembering our culture through subconscious, untaught practices, according to Love, whether it’s listening to hip-hop music or continuing the ancestral legacy. Having a desire for greatness in continuing this legacy and the desire for tribal or primal beats even through modern music are included in the act of remembering.

Love started out the lecture with a hip-hop song most of the audience recognized.

“I don’t care how old or young you are; you have to move,” Love exclaimed to the SU ballroom audience.

Love also gave examples of the African-American soul found in current media and events. She moved on to show a historical scene in the movie “Daughters of the Dust” which is about two West African slaves sent to labor off the coast of South Carolina in the indigo trade. “Daughters of the Dust” (1991) was the first feature length film to research the actual descendants of the West African Gullah culture. It also showed how African folk traditions, such as those of the Gullah culture, have been maintained till the twentieth century.

Love said that the African-American soul or gospel isn’t just found in hip-hop, which she compared to the modern version of tribal dancing, but the act of remembering.

“The act of remembering doesn’t just apply to African-Americans but all cultures,” she said. “It is implanted in our DNA.”

She then compared our cultural, psychological DNA to our inborn greatness.

“The greatness in us is already in us, not the history books,” Love explained. “The first people we see that look like us as kids are slaves found in textbooks.”

Love believes in continuing the ancestral legacy through remembering, but tried to dissuade the audience from listening to stereotypical examples taught by “Westernized culture.”

“Twerking is an act of remembering. Westernized culture looks at it as sexual, but twerking is an African, tribal movement. We remember through our bodies,” Love said.

Love displayed timeline from National Geographic of the different musical genres beginning with their roots in Western Africa.

“Rap goes back 400 years to West Africa. All music starts with that drum in Africa,” Love said.

Love believes in using hip-hop as a teaching tool but you don’t need to go to school for hip-hop; it’s implanted in us.

She showed a 2007 documentary called “Cultural Memory” looking at adolescents in L.A performing krunk music on the streets.

Westernized culture might see a new dance form as dangerous, unconservative, or scandalous, said Love, but the documentary flashed between tribal dance and krunk moves to prove similarities.

Love gave examples of minorities in the news that have been marginalized such as NFL player Michael Sam who received some backlash after announcing he was homosexual.

She then showed a picture of Cece MacDonald, an African-American transgender woman who was sentenced to prison after she stabbed her attacker to defend her and her friends.

Love then gave examples of African-American murder victims in the news: Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, and Jonathan Ferrell who may have been unarmed and whose murderers have not been convicted.

Love then gave words to these victims, “We don’t see these people as brilliant because we only see them in the moment.”

She explained that rising up against social injustice is an “act of remembering.”

“Injustices are directly connected to who we are as a people. Ubuntu, means ‘I Am because We Are,’” said Love.

Ubuntu literally means humanness or the philosophy of human nature and it’s South African in origin, said Love.

According to ubafrica.org, Nelson Mandela quoted it like this: “Ubuntu [is] that profound African sense that we are only human through the humanity of other human beings.”

Love exemplified that seeing oneself being connected to other people brings out better human nature and hip-hop could be a grounds for change.

Anntress Manion, for Black Women’s Organization, said that “the lecture was amazing.” Manion recommended taking a hip-hop and feminism class for anyone interested in gender, culture, and music.

In addition to Love’s TED talk set to discuss feminism and the psychology of what makes someone better at improvisation, you can follow up with her on Twitter @BLoveSoulPower and her website, http://www.bettinalove.com/.