Kendrick Lamar

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In the new Netflix series “Dear White People,” conversations about racism on a college campus take center stage. The story features members of the Black Student Union at a fictional Ivy League college called Winchester University, where the main character hosts a socially-conscious radio show. The series has received praise for featuring nuanced stories of students of color, and backlash by some who consider the show racist.

photo of Rapsody
FortyOnceGold

This program originally aired July 11, 2016.

Growing up in the small town of Snow Hill, N.C., Marlanna Evans, a.k.a Rapsody, wasn't exposed to much hip-hop music. She would listen to the songs her older cousins played in the car, but she didn't develop a love for rap until college.

While attending North Carolina State University, Evans helped a hip-hop culture grow on campus with a student music group that would meet in a dormitory lounge to rap battle. She eventually started making her own rhymes and met producer and Jamla Records founder 9th Wonder.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar recently won five Grammys, but it's his performance at the awards show that's grabbing attention.
Jon Elbaz / Wikimedia Commons

In the last two weeks, musicians Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar have used two of pop culture's biggest stages to showcase their political message.

Beyonce's Super Bowl halftime show included her controversial new song "Formation." Meanwhile, Lamar took home five Grammy awards and offered a visually and lyrically stunning performance of his own songs at the awards show.

Gabrielle Union stars in 'Being Mary Jane,' a BET show that challenges the portrayal of the black female.
Gina Hughes / Wikimedia Commons

News outlets across the country played a cell phone video this week of a white sheriff’s deputy in South Carolina violently arresting a black female student. The officer was fired, but public dialogue continues about the video and the alarming questions it raises about how school authorities discipline students.

In pop culture, television programs like Being Mary Jane are challenging media's portrayal of black women.