Chenjerai Kumanyika: Hip-Hop activist digital literacy pedagogy: Pittsburgh’s 1Hood Media Academy

What is Digital Literacy?

[Excerpted from the below article, sent in response to our email]

Dr. Kumanyika asserts that digital literacy involves “issues of social justice, representation, production, and surveillance.” Further, he says, “In a society that is increasingly mediated by media and digital technologies, there are variety of economic, social, psychological and political stakes that surround issues of representation, production, and critical consumption of information. These stakes are particularly high for historically marginalized groups such as African-American males. Typically, calls for curricula and regulation that promote the critical consumption of media texts are understood as issues of media literacy, but in order to design policy and education that is responsive to the problems and potentials of the expansive contemporary digital environment, scholars, educators, politicians, and activists should focus on the specific competencies embedded in definitions of digital literacy. Stephanie Couch, director of CA STEM network, defines digital literacy as a life-long process of capacity building where people are using technologies and networks to create, access, evaluate, and manage information that is required in a knowledge society or knowledge economy (californiacio, 2010).”

“The importance of digital literacy must be understood in the broader context of media representation. In 2011, the Topos Partnership released a review of social science literature from a variety of disciplines and methods exploring media representations of African-American males. The research covered in this review and other similar studies reveal a consistent pattern of overrepresentation of African-American as criminals, entertainers, and athletes. Entman & Rojecki (2001) find that in popular media, Blacks are overrepresented as perpetrators of violent crime. Simultaneously, African-American males tend to be underrepresented in roles such as computer users or technical experts in television commercials, instead tending to appear in roles that put less emphasis on physical performance (Kinnick, White, & Washington, 2001).”

“…comprehensive definitions of digital literacy involve not simply producing texts and speech on digital platforms, or uploading content, but also being able to negotiate the specificities of digital contexts such as Twitter, Instagram, or email, and being able to tailor speech appropriately and participate in those contexts (californiacio, 2010).”

Dr. Kumanyika shares about the impact that Pittsburgh’s  1Hood Media Academy’s Hip-Hop digital literacy curriculum has on issues of social justice.

”From a digital literacy perspective, the process of producing and distributing video (“I am Troy Davis (T.R.O.Y.)”accomplished more than simply relaying facts about the case. When considered within the aforementioned landscape of media coverage of African-American males, and the posthumous criminalizing of African-American shooting victims, the affective and factual appeal of the video did important “re-humanizing” work.”

Kumanyika, C., & Paradise, G. (2016). Hip-Hop activist digital literacy pedagogy: Pittsburgh’s 1Hood Media Academy. In R. Williams  & J. W. Frechette (Eds.), Media Education for a Digital Generation New York, NY: Routledge.

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