About a month ago, I saw a video that Amandla Stenberg, an actress known for playing Rue in the Hunger Games among other roles, made for her high school history class. In a video titled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,” Stenberg gives a summary of black hairstyles and hip-hop over the last two decades and how they’ve become popular in mainstream culture. Artists from Riff Raff to Katy Perry to Iggy Azalea have recently sported grills and picked up ebonics and hip hop musical styles in their music videos.
She seems very articulate and well-spoken in this video. So much so that it made me wonder, what the hell what I doing in high school. I was certainly not making viral videos like this that so insightfully dissects recent trends in pop culture.
It’s also too bad that history teachers often don’t make history more relevant and relatable. Dry facts about slavery and Jim Crow come alive when kids are taught that decisions our ancestors made reverberate all around us.