Alternative Title

"Fight the power"- a beats, rhymes, and life approach

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type



School for Social Work


Hip hop-Psychological aspects, Hip hop-Therapeutic use, Social movements, Oppression (Psychology), Minority youth-Mental health services, Beats, Rhymes and Life, Inc., Hip hop, Oppression, Power, Privilege, Collective resistance, Collective liberation, Artistic expression, Youth of color, Marginalized populations, Community, BRL


This qualitative study explores what elements of social justice, Hip Hop, and therapy the Oakland, California based agency Beats, Rhymes, & Life, Inc. (BRL) engages in to ignite Collective Resistance among its members, youth, and the outside community. The study utilized a mix of both narrative and phenomenological approaches throughout. In total, twelve participants were interviewed, however, only six participants were included for the purpose of this research and ranged from teaching artists, clinicians, community members, and leaders of BRL. Each participant was asked a series of questions regarding (1) Hip Hop, (2) Oppression and Power, and (3) Collective Resistance along with exploring the role BRL plays throughout those spaces. The narratives demonstrated that by tapping into the power of Hip Hop culture; using and providing space for authentic exploration and solidification; and having awareness of positionality, thought, and oppressive systems at play; individuals are able to provide ideas and solutions on how to challenge oppressive institutions through by acting upon the common goal of goodness for all and ride on transformative love.

Because the study focuses on Collective Resistance, writing the paper itself was a participation in the movement of resistance against the norm. By engaging in code-switching between an academic voice and the voice of my roots in the communities which I belong to, it was my small way to “fight the power.”




iv, 91 pages. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma. 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 80-82)

Included in

Social Work Commons