Prof. Akilah Folami’s Research Cited in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Decision

Akilah N. Folami, Associate Professor of Law

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in a decision issued on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, reversed a murder conviction and in it cited Professor Akilah Folami’s article “From Habermas to ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’: Hip Hop, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and the Black Public Sphere,” 12 Mich. J. Race & L. 235, 274 (2007) multiple times.

The court’s decision includes a finding that the admission of a rap video in which the defendant appeared, when offered for the purpose of proving defendant’s gang membership, when the defendant had already offered to stipulate to gang membership, was one of several prejudicial errors. Com. v. Gray, 2012 WL 5503894, *15 (Mass. Nov. 15, 2012) (NO. SJC-10781).

The court cites her article for support that gangsta rap often takes on a nuanced and layered meaning beyond the predominate image of the “gangsta.”