Bettina L. Love

Bettina L. Love

Associate Professor of Educational Theory & Practice at the University of Georgia


Dr. Bettina L. Love is an award-winning author and Associate Professor of Educational Theory & Practice at the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on the ways in which urban youth negotiate Hip Hop music and culture to form social, cultural, and political identities to create new and sustaining ways of thinking about urban education and social justice. She also concentrates on transforming urban classrooms through the use of non-traditional educational curricula and classroom structures. Recently, Dr. Love was named the Nasir Jones Fellow at the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Center at Harvard University.She will begin her fellowship at Harvard in the Spring of 2016, where she will develop a multimedia Hip Hop civics curriculum for middle to high school students.

Dr. Love is one of the field’s most esteemed educational researchers in the area of Hip Hop education for elementary aged students. She is the founder of Real Talk: Hip Hop Education for Social Justice, an after school initiative aimed at teaching elementary students the history and elements of Hip Hop for social justice aligned with core subjects through project-based learning. Dr. Love also has a passion for studying the school experiences of queer youth, along with race and inequality in education.

Dr. Love is a sought-after public speaker on a range of topics including: Hip Hop education, Black girlhood, queer youth, Hip Hop feminism, art-based education to foster youth civic engagement, and issues of diversity. In 2014, she was invited to the White House Research Conference on Girls to discuss her work focused on the lives of Black girls. In addition, she is the inaugural recipient of the Michael F. Adams award (2014) from the University of Georgia. She has also provided commentary for various news outlets including NPR, The Guardian, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Dr. Love is one of the founding board members of The Kindezi School, an innovative school focused on small classrooms and art-based education. She conducts workshops/professional development seminars for educators and students from educational entities of all kinds.

Finally, she is the author of Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South. Her work has appeared in numerous books and journals, including the English Journal, Urban Education,The Urban Review, and Journal of LGBT Youth.She is currently editing a special issue of the Journal of Lesbian Studies focused on theidentities, gender performances, and pedagogical practices of Black and Brown lesbian educators.

Project Description

Get Free: Hip Hop Civics Education

The research project proposed herein, entitled Get Free: Hip Hop Civics Education, aims to create a multimedia Hip Hop civics curriculum for middle to high school students. The curriculum will center on Hip Hop music and culture examined within the framework of resistance narratives to promote the traditional principles of civic engagement (i.e., voice, agency, active participation, and real opportunities to make a difference (McCoy & Scully, 2002)), while ushering in Hip Hop civics education that values the contemporary everyday realities of urban youth who endure the social, economic, physiological, and psychological trauma of coping with the racial injustices of “post - racial” America.

In the wake of the recent police killings of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and 12 year - old Tamir Rice, and the subsequent failure to indict in the former two cases, users of multi - modal platforms (e.g., YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook) created hashtags like  #ICantBreathe (referring to Garner’s documented last words), #HandsUpDontShoot (in reference to Brown’s alleged last action), and #BlackLivesMatter in order to bring the pain and realities of Black people to the forefront of public conversation.  These highly visible platforms for discussing such issues highlight the need for informal and formal educational spaces for youth to learn, discuss, vent, heal, resist, and escape  – if not only in their minds – from the stress and fatigue of subtle and overt racial hostility toward Black and Brown bodies.  Thus, it is equally important for educators to establish curricula that teach urban youth how to create sustainable change through local and community engagement, rooted in the culture and fearless voice of urban America, i.e., Hip Hop.

As such, the goal of Get Free is to create an interdisciplinary, comprehensive, and multimedia Hip Hop civics curriculum that is vested in democratic education and cultural pluralism, while focusing on Hip Hop as a “semipublic and a counterpublic space of 3 engagement with and resistance to mainstream narratives, policies, and actions” (Banks, 2010, p. 25). Get Free will curate for students examples of a variety of ways to resist  – from silence, to dress, to making music, to actual protest – all while working in solidarity with others. Using Hip Hop as the lynchpin of the curriculum, students will examine how individual and collective narratives that challenge domination can also be possibilities for resistance and civic action.

Spring 2016: Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellowship

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