Diaries Magazine

Higher Learning

By Dmroughton

While I was working on my eight year undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina, I had the opportunity to have contact with a number of sports figures who today are rich and famous. I am, however, the polar opposite of rich and famous. So I think I will devote a few blog posts to these chaps who today would have no idea what my name is.
African-American Influence on Popular Culture was an interesting course which discussed how African-Americans influenced American society since slavery. However, the entire focus of the course was music. We examined music from the beginnings of slave work songs all the way up to rap and hip-hop.
Higher LearningAt 6'5", I almost always sat in the back of my classes; my excuse was so that I would not block other students' vision. In reality, it was so I get slip out the door faster after class and run back to the dorms to play hours upon hours of basketball. Imagine my delight on the first day of this class when the 6'9", future NBA star, Antawn Jamison walked in and plopped down in a seat right next to mine.
Antawn (pronounced Antwan) was a personable fellow who always chit-chatted with me before class, mostly about campus parties and sometimes about upcoming games - though I did try to keep my star struckness in check. While we chatted, Antawn's tutor/notetaker would get set up in the next desk over to prepare to copy down virtually every word that came out of the professor's mouth.
As soon at the professor began his lecture, which would often involve playing snippets of music for analysis and discussion, Antawn would say something like "Aight, man," and then put his head down for the entire class period while his tutor took incredible notes and I took slightly less incredible notes. This was pretty much the routine for the entire semester: pre-class chit chat, Antawn's head down in silence, and note taker getting down what Antawn would need to study for later.
Fast forward four months later to the very last day of the class. Having moved from slave work songs to minstrel shows to blues to jazz to rock and roll and everything in between, we now found ourselves listening to some gangsta rap from the early nineties. The professor played a segment of rap that I think was off an NWA album and then began an analysis of misogynist lyrics:
"You can see the negative portrayal of females in these types of songs with women being referred to as bitches and hoes..."
With that, Antawn sat straight up out of his normal classroom coma and raised his hand as if to speak. The professor seemed a little startled at this first attempt at participation on Antawn's part for the entire semester. I must admit, I was eagerly awaiting what sage wisdom he had been waiting an entire semester to share with us all.
"Yes, Mr. Jamison, you have something to add to the discussion."
Oh, this was going to be good. I just knew it!
"Yeah. Sometimes they call 'em tricks too."
And with that, he put his head back down on his desk, and I never heard another word out of Mr. Antawn Jamison's mouth.

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