Former Educator, Jamila Sams, Is Harnessing The Power Of Hip-hop Culture To Empower Students

by Gee NY
Jamila Sams is Founder of We Do It For The Culture

Jamila Sams, a former educator turned entrepreneur, is making waves in the education sector with her innovative approach to teaching.

As the founder of We Do It For The Culture, Sams is harnessing the power of hip-hop culture to empower students and foster Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills.

Her curriculum goes beyond traditional academics, aiming to engage students through meaningful lessons rooted in hip-hop.

Sams opened up recently about her journey and the inspiration behind We Do It For The Culture.

“My last year as an administrator, I felt the weight of trying to elevate the consciousness of students and parents,” Sams revealed in an interview with Black Enterprise. “But navigating through layers of challenges, including what Lauren Hill famously called ‘The Miseducation,’ took a toll on me. There wasn’t enough of my authentic self in the space to drive the work forward. I was burned out.”

Driven by a passion for hip-hop culture and a desire to bridge generational gaps, Sams developed a curriculum that embraces the essence of hip-hop while addressing contemporary issues.

Sams believes it is crucial to respect the evolution of hip-hop culture and find constructive ways to engage students with the music they love.

“We can acknowledge the music our students listen to and use it as a springboard for deeper conversations,” Sams explained. “For example, we can explore civic action through the lens of rap lyrics, discussing topics like the use of lyrics in court or the importance of mental health awareness.”

Despite the challenges of implementing hip-hop-based education programs, Sams remains committed to her mission. She highlighted the need for collaboration between school districts and teachers to integrate her curriculum into classrooms effectively.

“We need buy-in from all stakeholders, from administrators to educators, to ensure the success of these programs,” Sams said. “Understanding the mission and vision of each school and fostering a culture of student voice and choice are essential steps in this process.”

To make her curriculum accessible to all, Sams offers a free one-year subscription to We Do It For The Culture. When asked about her decision to forego profit, she emphasized the cultural significance of hip-hop and the importance of making education accessible to everyone.

“The culture is free, and I believe education should be too,” Sams stated. “By offering free lessons, we hope to reach more students and empower them through hip-hop-inspired learning.”

Through partnerships with organizations like the National Urban League and Big Brother Big Sisters, Sams is expanding the reach of her curriculum across the country. She highlighted the universal appeal of hip-hop and its potential to impact students of all demographics.

“Hip-hop culture transcends boundaries, and we’re seeing its influence in schools across the nation,” Sams said, adding, “Whether it’s in urban or suburban districts, hip-hop has the power to engage and empower students from diverse backgrounds.”

Looking ahead, Sams plans to customize her curriculum further to address local and global issues, empowering students to become active participants in their communities.

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