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G’Ra Asim ’14 on Rock Music and Black Culture: Boston Globe

Man in a Muffs T-shirt sings at the camera in front of a band poster
G’Ra Asim ’14 in Baby Got Back Talk’s video for “I’m Sorry I’m a Moron, But Also, Help”

Writing, Literature and Publishing alum G’Ra Asim ’14 writes in the Boston Globe Ideas section that rock ‘n’ roll belongs to Black musicians, and should be considered a Black art form alongside other genres of music.

“Since rock ’n’ roll is about being true to yourself and going against the grain if need be, I always felt I simply understood the assignment better than most,” writes Asim, an assistant professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis, who fronts the rock band, Baby Got Back Talk.

The band recently curated and released a playlist of Black and women artists who are “bona fide philosophers of rock” — a jab at a remark made by Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner last year.

“I call it putting the ‘alt’ in ‘alterity.'” Asim continues. “’Alt’ is an abbreviation for ‘alternative,’ as in alternative rock music or alternative values, and alterity is the state of being a political or social minority. Black people who use rock music and culture as a compass for navigating life combine the two.”

Read the essay.

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