Ronald Reagan was “America’s version of Adolph Hitler,” says Todd Boyd, a tenured professor of hip-hop at the University of Southern California. Reagan was “a sad-ass actor” and “white in the worst possible way.”
The Los Angeles Times calls Boyd “Notorious PhD.” He will show up for class in sunglasses and a cravat, or more casually “wearing a blue Orlando Magic jersey over a gray T-shirt,” reports the Times.
Tenure has given Boyd the green light to behave like a jackass, says the Times: “He says it was upon winning tenure six years ago that he decided to follow his instincts, figuring he had nothing to fear.”
California’s fondness for hip-hop hucksters — Governor Gray Davis made Caribbean literature professor Quincy Troupe the state’s poet laureate until it emerged that he hadn’t graduated from Grambling — is another safety net underneath Boyd. He can say anything and get away it. “He is perpetually in demand by reporters to pass judgment on everything about race from pimp fashion to radio programming to the historical validity of a mysterious black caddy in ‘The Legend of Bagger Vance,’” reports the Times.
And USC is happy to humor him. “Boyd’s talent for news-media visibility,” reports the Times, has “helped USC present itself as a more diverse campus.”
USC’s trustees apparently don’t even mind that his favorite word is “nigga.” His new book is titled The New H.N.I.C.,” which stands for “Head Nigga in Charge.”
“Frankly I love the word ‘nigga.’ It is my favorite word in the English language because no other word incites more controversy today,” he says. He uses it to remind people that racism still exists (even if that means he has to furnish the racism) and to assert mindless independence: “any time anybody tells me there’s something I can’t say, you can be sure I’m going to say it as many times as I possibly can.”
Boyd likens his academic career to Michael Jordan’s basketball career, says the Times. Before tenure, Boyd couldn’t speak so wildly, just as Jordan couldn’t dunk wildly during his college days under the disciplined Dean Smith. But after tenure, Boyd says he could “shake things up,” just as Jordan, liberated by a cosseted career in the NBA, could “take some chances that other players couldn’t take.”
Boyd flunked out of the University of Florida, according to the Times, but recovered after he learned that he could watch movies for academic credit in critical studies classes. He ended up with a Ph.D. in critical studies at the University of Iowa.
Teaching the worst examples of English has made him a prized professor of literature at USC. The Times quotes Michael Dear, the director of the university’s Southern California Studies Center, lauding Boyd’s versatility: “He can write academic jargon, he can do jive. He can do rap and Shakespeare. He’s a wordsmith.”
Are USC students getting shortchanged? No, they get a chance to “keep it real.” But not so real that they can disturb Boyd’s self-indulgent stream of consciousness. Boyd, as the Times relates, instructs students not to ask questions during his hip-hop lectures, because “when I get into my groove, I’m like in a different space; I don’t like my groove to be interrupted.”
Boyd wishes he “was a rapper.” But he’ll settle for his tenured professorship since it allows him to drop “intellectual bombs.”
California’s academic establishment doesn’t mind if those bombs drop on their students. Even as test scores indicate that students don’t know basic English, California schools continue to mainstream the substandard English of hip-hop. Even as educators bemoan ghetto violence, they bring rap’s glorification of ghetto violence into their classrooms.
And as the proliferation of tenured fakes like Boyd illustrates, students can’t even escape the insanity at the college level. As California’s college educators rail against the “violence of war,” they welcome the violence of rap.
Determined to breed their own destroyers, they grant tenure to professors who promote a culture of nihilism. Such is their commitment to civility they’ll give tenure to a charlatan whose favorite word is “nigga.”
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