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universality of his perspective * the African-American Sway is culturally differentiated. His
one-word name distinguishes him from the norm, connoting a ‘‘cool’’ persona marked by
personal style. Yago at times dons a sports coat, but Sway never wears professional
clothes. Barrel-chested and deep-voiced, he keeps his hair in thick dreadlocks. For the TRL
program, he appears wearing a Rastafarian cap over his hair, dark jeans, and a dark t-shirt
featuring an image of the slain rapper Tupac Shakur, who has come to symbolize urban,
ethnic counter-culture. Corner and Pels (2003) note that style has become an essential
component in politics and public representation, reflecting the broader sociocultural
trends of personalization and de-institutionalization. Marshall (1997, p. 162) further argues
that style has become the ‘‘power to represent difference,’’ a complication of Yago’s white,
neo-patriarchal claim to universality.
Through his style, Sway is explicitly raced, authorized to represent the urban
minority. For example, he visits a maximum-security prison to interview a ‘‘young prisoner
of the drug war.’’ Wearing a dark cloth wrap around his hair and a plain blue sweat shirt,
Sway greets the young man with an elaborate handshake. Through dress and gesture
he subtly establishes his cultural affiliations. At the Democratic convention, he calls the
hip-hop star P Diddy ‘‘bro,’’ that of course a casual term for brother . Then at the end of the 389 Downloaded By: [Ohio State University Libraries] At: 01:44 26 September 2007 390 GEOFFREY BAYM TRL program, he specifically addresses ‘‘those in the hood who think their votes don’t
Explicitly positioned to speak to young African-Americans, Sway also functions to
speak for them. The TRL program opens with Sway leading a pseudo political rally
(complete with picket signs reading ‘‘Chose or Lose’’) that works its way up the street and
into the TRL studio. Dressed in his rasta cap with a bullhorn in hand...
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This note was uploaded on 01/20/2014 for the course ARTEDUC 2367.03 taught by Professor Tiffanylewis during the Spring '14 term at Ohio State.
- Spring '14
- The Land