Rappers’ (special) education revelations: A Black feminist decolonial analysis

Mildred Boveda, Johnnie Jackson, Valencia Clement

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Using methods informed by ethnomusicology, this study highlights lyrical themes in songs and visual imageries created by Black rappers who attended public schools in the United States. Our analysis reveals the anti-Blackness and ableism these artists encountered and uncovers ideologies conflating Blackness, disability, and inferiority within school-based contexts. The lyrics include rappers' autobiographical accounts, interpretations of first-person narratives, or stories about P-12 students and educators. We begin by situating ourselves as three Black scholars with distinctive geographical and generational entry points into Hip Hop and US special education. We anchor our analysis with Black feminist and decolonial theories that function as the conceptual framing for our contribution to (Black) curriculum studies. We found six lyrical themes spanning across four decades and varying US regions where rap music rose to national prominence. Black rappers offer revelations about curricular choices, school quality and funding, parent engagement, teacher–student dynamics, rappers as public pedagogues, and flipping the script on disability categories and differences. We conclude by providing recommendations and provocations for curriculum studies, curriculum workers, and special educators who examine the intersections of anti-Black racism and ableism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-117
Number of pages20
JournalCurriculum Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Black feminism
  • Hip Hop, Black curriculum theory
  • Special education
  • disabilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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