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Seminar in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies: Dr Kyra D. Gaunt (Albany)

October 21 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


 “Groomed from Girlhood”: Music is the Instrument of Violence Against Black Women on YouTube

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[TRIGGER WARNING: This talk discusses child sexual grooming and rape culture. What you are about to hear may be triggering, but it may also make you feel less alone.]

If chronic exposure to racism causes weathering in the lives of Black women, what does chronic exposure to sexism and misogynoir in music do to Black girls and women? What surrounds us, shapes us and sexist music as violence is muting us — Black girls and women.

Turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to turning up to musical misogynoir or anti-Black sexism against Black women is rooted in the YouTube founders’ willingness to exploit the misery of Janet Jackson to kickstart their entrepreneurial dreams after launching a dating site on Valentine’s Day that became the largest digital playground in human history since 2005.

When very young Black girls upload culturally-appropriate bedroom twerking videos, both girls and general-audience users are groomed and exploited by sexual and privacy predators in YouTube’s wickedly complex systems of music monetization. Algorithmic recommendations and Content ID perpetuates the stereotyping and stigmatization that leads to sexually exploiting and silencing Black women. My next book sounds the alarm of music as a public health risk to girls, particularly girls of color.

keywords: Black girlhood, epistemic violence, misogynoir, music monetization, online child sexual grooming, YouTube

About the speaker:

For over 20 years, Dr. Kyra D. Gaunt, Ph.D. has been an innovative leader in the field of ethnomusicology as a prize-winning author, professor, and singer-songwriter.

Her first book The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop (NYU Press), funded by NEH and the Ford Foundation, won the distinguished 2007 Alan Merriam Book Prize from The Society of Ethnomusicology. The Games Black Girls Play and her subsequent publications have contributed to the emergence of Black girlhood studies, hip-hop music studies, and hip-hop feminism.

Her next book, tentatively titled PLAYED: Music as an Instrument of Violence Against Black Girls Online, reveals how mere exposure to not only music but interactions via YouTube’s human-computer interface is grooming millions of users to turn up to forms of algorithmic oppression and oppression socialization.

Outside academia, Dr. Gaunt is the Principal Qualitative Researcher for the Black Internet Culture and Trends Project with Creative Theory Agency and she serves as a federally certified expert witness offering testimony involving Facebook in state and federal court.

Dr. Gaunt holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and is currently on faculty at the University at Albany, SUNY after being on faculty at Baruch and Hunter College in CUNY, New York University, University of Virginia, and Tufts University.

As a public intellectual, Dr. Gaunt is an advocate for gender justice in Black music studies, particularly relative to Black girls. She voices the unspoken through song, scholarship, and social media, Her 2020 article “The Magic of Black Girls Play,” published during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Parenting Section of The New York Times was selected as Editors’ Pick, an important achievement for the field of ethnomusicology, given the newspaper’s worldwide reach.

Her 2018 episode of TED’s Design series Small Thing, Big Idea: How the Jump Rope Got Its Rhythm with over 7M+ views has been published in over 28 languages on TED.com. The video’s reach exceeds notable TED talks by Bryan Stevenson and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Dr. Gaunt’s public advocacy includes actively editing and teaching with Wikipedia to counter systemic bias and close the gender gap as a free knowledge activist (WikiEdu.org).

Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About the series:

The Seminar in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies is convened by Professor Jason Stanyek of the University of Oxford. Featuring lectures by leading scholars who have adventurous takes on musical and sonic cultures, the series has a particular grounding in anthropology, sound studies, and ethnomusicology. Our seminars are open to all and admission is free. If you have any questions about the series, please contact Professor Stanyek at jason.stanyek@music.ox.ac.uk


October 21
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category: