I am a 5th grade school teacher in College Station, Texas. As an African American I especially want my African American students to be well educated. I want them to be able to read and write proficiently, and be able to speak and use correct english and grammar. I also want them to be computer literate.

I am constantly searching the internet for good, educational, and appropriate material for them to read and respond to. There is a wealth of information on the net, but it seems that all they are interested in is music...Rapp music to be more specific. During the weeks that Tupac and Biggie Smalls were killed it was impossible to redirect their attention! What is this obsession that we Black folks have with music! I know that music is an intricate part of our culture. I love music just as much as the next person. I know how music can transform us... I see it happen every Sunday in church. But "My Goodness!" We have got to set our priorities straight! What good is it if you can rapp a song at 110 words per minute (and believe me I've timed them to prove this very point), but you can't read or write the lyrics?

We as adults, need to downplay the importance of music. There comes a time when we need to turn off the videos, turn off the radios and CD players, and pick up a book and read!

Kids imitate what they see, and what they see on TV and the streets is a lot of "grown" folks trying to imitate or live out a video fantasy. And quess what, these kids don't realize that those rappers don't live like that everyday (big houses, big cars, lots and lots of pretty girls around all the time). No jobs, no families, no church (unless it's a funeral), no responsibilites....just party, party, party.

I can't explain to you the mixed emotions I feel when I see one of my fifth graders walk into my room throwing up that hand symbol and yelling "West Side!" I can't compete with that! I am Black female. He is imitating a Black male. I can't compete with that! I tell him if someone says something to him, to think first and go tell a teacher so he won't get into trouble. The rapper tells him to hit him, go get your friends and hit him, or even kill him. Now, the fights that occur in school are still you typical school fights; they only last about 3 minutes and usually no one receives a direct hit. BUT! The drama lasts forever! You should hear all the things they say they are going to do. Not to mention it is such a distraction from learning. Too many of our Black kids are coming to school to fight and socialize!

Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle. I do all that I can do in a given school day...I teach sunday school and work with kids on weekend...I talk to parents and encourage them to get involved on every level of their kids life. But the major influence is this "music culture."

Sure, hip hop is not violent, nor does it promote that "gansta" lifestyle. However, it does promote promiscuity and disrespect. I never hear white kids talk about sex as loosely as I hear Black kids talk about it.

What's so great about Hip Hop? What's so great about Rapp music? Besides the fact that a few Black people are making some money, I don't see how it benefits anybody to listen to it.

Johnetta Floyd

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