There is a shady hue that is attached to the concept of “hustling” especially when it pertains to “black hustle.” If you go to google right now and type in“what is the definition of hustle?” you will find yourself looking at the Oxford dictionary that states hustling is to “(1)force someone to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction, or (2)obtain by forceful action or persuasion.” Hustling is seen as swindling someone and has earned itself a negative connotation.
As Dyson states in Jay-Z Made in America, “there is certainly a duality to hustling, a good and bad side...Black hustle has been scorned as long as black humanity has been despised”(16-17). Dyson did something that many Black people have done, turning a negative connotation into a positive. Similar to the way the Blacks were referred to as “N-words,” they took that word and reclaimed it to mean something positive. Dyson refers to hustling as “bright hustling”; this form of hustling is positive and legitimate. For example, Booker T. Washington who journeyed from a slave to an educator and even the hustler herself, Madam C.J. Walker, who created her own hair business.
Some Americans today continue to have this outdated view on the black hustle and black culture. When Dyson first began teaching the topic of hip hop and Jay-Z in his college classrooms, he received numerous push back. Again because if this negative connotation, not necessarily just about hustling but the black culture in general. People could not fathom why a professor would want to teach about a “hustler” that sold drugs and had a checkered past. Not realizing that Jay-Z was also a “bright hustler” that made something of himself and created generational wealth. Now again we have people throwing temper tantrums because they do not want their children learning about critical race theory. Such as the Texas Governor that signed a critical race theory bill limiting the teaching on the subject. Though you may not agree with the black hustle, the least you can do is learn about it.