The Great Debate

Is Hip Hop corrupted when used as tool for education in schools?

Witness an historic debate about Hip Hop and education featuring renowned Hip Hop scholars, educators, youth, artists, activists and public intellectuals.

Saturday, March 28th, 1-2:30pm

Chair: Karen Murray

CHAIR: Karen Murray

Karen Murray is currently the Program Co-ordinator in the Toronto District School Board. In this capacity, Karen designs and supports the professional learning of new teachers within the first four years of their teaching experience. She also creates professional learning opportunities for mentor teachers and experienced teachers focusing on curriculum design, teacher leadership, an issues of equity and social justice. Karen was previously a Student Achievement Officer with the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, Ministry of Education and was also the first William Waters Teacher in Residence at the University of Toronto.

George Elliot Clarke

George Elliott Clarke pioneered the study of African-Canadian literature. He is alsoan award-winning poet and novelist, as well as a playwright, essayist, screenwriter, journalist, and opera librettist. His books have been translated into Chinese, Italian, and Romanian. He is the E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto, the Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15), and a member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia.

Braxton is an emcee, student, and mentor. As a student in Lost Lyrics, Braxton found his love for Hip Hop and writing, and now facilitates workshops for youth throughout the city of Toronto.

Braxton "HiPPYxHop" Wignall

Simon BlackSimon Black is a writer, activist, and academic living in Toronto. He is a regular contributor to the anti-poverty newspaper The Tough Times and writes a sports column, from a radical’s perspective, for the progressive bimonthly Canadian Dimension. His writing has appeared in The Independent, the International Socialist Review, Relay, New Labor Forum, on, and in Canada’s hip hop magazine POUND. He also contributes op-eds on social issues to The Toronto Star, Canada’s most-read daily newspaper. Black’s work has been republished on websites from the UK and Latin America to Australia and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Dr. Elliot GannA professional psychologist, producer and DJ, Dr. Gann has been teaching in Oakland and San Francisco Bay Area schools and community settings for a decade. His work with TFS has taken him across the country and continent teaching in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, New York, Mississippi, Louisiana, Southern California and Connecticut (including at Yale University), putting on “beat battle” fundraisers in almost all of the locations where he has taught while locally organizing in San Francisco the longest running monthly live beat in the world. In January of 2015 he joined the U.S. State Department and UNC Chapel Hill’s joint “Next Level” program to do conflict resolution in Senegal. He has also conducted research on Therapeutic Hip Hop activity groups (recently archived at the Schomburg Center for Black Studies), involving both rapping and beat making, which demonstrated the significant positive effects of such interventions.

Salman "Ylook" RanaSalman Rana (Ylook) is a founding member of the Circle along with Kardinal Offishall, Saukrates, et al. He's a lawyer currently studying towards his doctorate at the Faculty of Law, McGill University. His research areas are legal theory and philosophy and subcultures.

Tina Khan

Tina Khan has her Masters in Education from OISE/UT and has been teaching at the Toronto District School Board for 17 years. She created the Each1 Teach1 program to create space for Black students who were vulnerable to educational disengagement. The Each1 Teach1 program uses hip-hop pedagogy to teach youth about identity, social justice and art by partnering with hip-hop practitioners and progressive community members. Currently the program is running a credit course in the school, a weekly workshop series and an afterschool arts program.

Audrey Hudson

Audrey Hudson is an Artist Educator and Doctoral candidate, where her study looks at Hip-Hop as a means of solidarity between Black and Indigenous communities. She believes in the power of Hip-Hop and the work it can do in decolonizing education.

Amanda ParrisAmanda Parris an artist, educator and scholar. She is the co-founder of the multi-award winning alternative education organization Lost Lyrics and founder of the multi-arts collective T-Dot Renaissance. Currently, Amanda is working on The Ride or Die Project a multi-platform initiative that traverses the fields of theatre, blogging, and fashion exploring the stories of women from around the world who live by a ride-or-die philosophy. Amanda is in the process of writing her MA thesis which explores how Hip Hop educators interested in social justice address issues violence and conflict in the classroom.

Joseph "J Rebel" HerscoA B-Boy, teacher and mentor, J Rebel is a member of the world-renowned breakdancing crew, Supernaturalz, J-Rebel has taught classes and worked in school boards as a community educator and youth worker. His program, called Don’t Believe the Hype, engages youth who are typically labeled “disengaged” or “at risk” in critical thinking by addressing complex social issues through the art and culture of Hip Hop.

Spin El PoetaPoet. Arts Educator. Workshop Facilitator. Revolutionary. Youth Advocate. Keeper of the sacred Cholq’ij calendar of the Cosmovision Maya. To date SPIN has performed in 7 countries and over 20 cities including sovereign indigenous territories in the north. Currently SPIN delivers arts education workshops to young offenders and is part of the first ever Canadian Hip Hop curriculum. He is also a part of a capacity building project with teachers and the arts in the TDSB.

Chris "Wasun" Harris

Chris “Wasun” Harris holds a PhD from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. As a lead Youth Organizer at the Black Action Defense Committee, and founding Program Director at For Youth Initiative, Chris organized African-Canadian youth gangs and disengaged high school students in Toronto’s West-end for 10 years. Chris is the founder of the social justice hip hop education centre, Freedom Justice Academy and author of academic articles on African-Canadian History, Anti-Racist Youth Organizing, and Hip Hop Education.