From Slavery to Hip-Hop: Punishing Black Speech and What’s “Unconstitutional” About Prosecuting Young Black Men Through Art


This Article, by Professor Donald F. Tibbs and third-year law student Shelly Chauncey, both from the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, addresses the disproportionate targeting and convictions of the African American community through the lens of the “hip-hop” generation. Tibbs and Chauncey show how the prosecutorial use of rap videos and lyrics serves to criminalize Black males within the larger context of policing Black speech in American law. The authors argue that this process is rooted in racial bias toward young Black men and serves no legitimate place in their prosecution.


criminal justice system, hip-hop, African American, Supreme Court, racial bias, hyper-policing, hyper-criminalization



Donald F. Tibbs (Drexel University, Thomas R. Kline School of Law)
Shelly Chauncey (Drexel University, Thomas R. Kline School of Law)



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