Texas A&M Offers Course on Hip-Hop Culture
COLLEGE STATION, Texas
The last place one might expect a course about hip-hop culture is Texas A&M University.
But English professor Dr. Finnie Coleman has taken his love of the musical genre and transformed it into a course that debuted this spring with one of the most ethnically diverse classrooms at A&M, where the majority of students and faculty have been White.
A class on this topic is a rarity on U.S. college campuses.
Coleman teaches about the history and artists of the genre, which incorporates such musical styles as rap, soul, reggae, house and spoken word. He also challenges students to dissect issues of race, gender and class, the Bryan-College Station Eagle reported earlier this month.
“Is hip-hop culture more diverse or less diverse than Aggie culture?” Coleman recently asked his class of 45 students, referring to the school’s campus culture.
“Hip-hop culture is more diverse in that it metamorphosizes and transforms to fit different people. Aggie culture has the people to do it, but we’re missing something,” says senior Tamiko Matthews.
The A&M English department “bent over backwards” to help implement the course, Coleman says.
The response from students was resounding. He accepted 10 students over the original limit and had to turn away a dozen more.
But the course might not be offered again.
Larry Mitchell, head of the English department, says special courses such as Coleman’s hip-hop culture class must be taught three times before being considered for a permanent spot. The department doesn’t have the faculty or resources to offer such courses every semester.
A&M continues to face shortages of minority faculty like Coleman. He’s one of fewer than 40 Black tenured or tenure-track professors at A&M, which employs more than 2,000 teachers. The department has increased its African American literature course sections, Mitchell added, a move that has proved popular with students.
Coleman says he would like to see A&M take permanent steps in teaching minority history and issues.
“That’s the next step for this school,” he says. “Even if we started tomorrow, we would be 25 years behind the times. At this point, the school has to think about ways it can catch up.”
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com