Society without Social Media

I predict to outcomes that are likely to happen, if there was no social media today. One outcome refers to the difference in activism that would take place without it and the other outcome refers to a decrease of awareness.  I believe both are foreseeable outcomes, in a world with no social media.

As we all know there has been a huge growth in social media over the past several days.  One particular way in which social media is used today is as a form of activism. The activism can take the form of protest type activism, donations for a cause (i.e. #IceBucketChallenge), and many other forms.   Many people use social media to have their voices heard on issues that are prevalent today.  While many people find social media to be a great outlet for such causes, there are some critics.  Some refer to such activism as “slackavism.”   Arguing that social media has caused many people, especially youth and young adults, to replace other forms of activism such as protests and demonstrations, that require people to actually come out for a cause,  sort of the “old way of doing things,” as some people refer to it as. I believe that without social media, this old way of protesting and demonstrating would be more prevalent.  I am not suggesting that it is not used today, but because social media has served as another outlet, many people choose to fight for a cause through the computer.

Without social media, however, there would be a lack of awareness of the racism and discrimination that marginalized communities still face today.  With the lack of young people who choose to watch the news and the lack of diverse history taught in schools, many of the horrific events that have happened over the past several years and all throughout history would have been unknown by a large part of the young and young adult community.  Today, even as college students, it is easy to here about a news story by just jumping on twitter, than turning on the tv and seeing it on the news. Moreover, without social media, some of the incidents would not have even came to light.  Today, it sometimes takes a brave individual to record injustice on their cell phone and post it to some social media outlet, then there is outrage. And then sometimes comes a chance for justice. Thus, without social media, many injustices would be swept under the rug, as they have been for centuries.   Moreover, some young people who do not face injustice a normal basis would go on to think that we live in a just, post-racial, post-gender, post-sexuality, society, when we in fact do not.

Lauryn Hill Song that Depicts my College Journey

I was very excited when we as a class were given the assignment to choose a song from the five time Grammy Award winning album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, by one of my favorite artist, Lauryn Hill. This album, which was infused with neo- soul, hip-hop, wisdom, reggae, R&B, phenomenal lyrics, and realness, was one of the albums that I pretty much grew up to.  Thus, it was not hard for me to choose a song that really depicts my four year journey here at the University of Virginia. I chose the song, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which is also what she decided to name the album as a whole.  In this song, Lauryn tells her story of finding her own destiny; she shares with us how we all should follow our own life path, in terms of our dreams, aspirations, identity and not allow other people or external forces to define those aspects of our lives.

This song is significant to a girl like me who was transitioning to a new period of life, college. In college, it is easy to fall victim to following aspirations that others  have for us, whether that be from  parents, professors, or friends.  It is also easy to try to find identity through the wrong means, when the best means to find identity is within oneself. Through college, I was able to find my own aspirations and things that made me happy as an individual and learned to not allow my happiness to be subject to factors outside myself. It is easy to fall victim to trying to follow the path that other students are traveling or being concerned about your destiny, when at a prestigious school such as UVA. However, the best way to combat such worry is to understand that your destiny is in your own hands and is within yourself. This song describes this learning process for Lauryn Hill and also describes the process that I am still learning and growing  through every single day.

Some Lyrics: “And every time I try to be, what someone else has thought of me, so caught up, I could not achieve. But deep in my heart, the answer was in me. And I made up my mind to define my own destiny.

 

Women’s Role in Hip Hop and The Social Revolution: One in the Same

Women have a significant role that they should take part in, both in Hip Hop and in the Social Revolution. Women hold a minority status within Hip Hop, just as we have historically been and still are in society today as a whole.  I think the role that women should play in Hip Hop should be the same role they play in the social revolution because they hold the same social status in both realms. Thus, women who have a passion to be in the field of Hip Hop should empower and uplift women. This is because Hip Hop is a predominately black industry that is also male dominated. Moreover, hip hop has a history of misogyny, which makes it hard for black women in Hip Hop to both have the support from the men within Hip Hop in a respectful way, while also empowering black women, by going against the misogynist messages that are so widely spread in hip hop.  I think this is where women in Hip Hop today have differed from some of the former female MCs from previous decades such as MC Lyte, Salt n Pepa, Missy Elliot., Queen Latifah, etc. However, this does not mean that women in Hip Hop should not push a feminist thinking that may pertain to women being sexual for their own sense of identity as a women and go against double standards. It just means women in Hip Hop should learn how to do both, without adding to the perpetuating cycle of the subjectivity of women.  Moreover, women in Hip Hop, especially black women in Hip Hop should learn that identifying as black does not mean one cannot identify and support feminist views. This is where I think that there is a separation in the Hip Hop realm and the social revolution realm.  Women in Hip Hop have to learn that feminism is not just an idea for white women but for all women.  Thus, in order to continue to empower women, women MCs should learn to come together for a bigger cause, just as needed in society for a social revolution. Hip Hop is no different in its need for unity. There is a popular pattern today of  putting female rappers against one another, as if there is only room for one.  But that is anagolist to thinking that there is only a need for one woman leader within the social revolution, and I think that such a way of thinking is ill-founded.

Musical Textbook: Find The Beauty and Love Within

This musical textbook is designed to teach women how to love themselves unconditionally. In order to do this one needs to find their own identity and beauty within themselves.  Once that occurs, it’s much easier to love yourself, despite external factors.  This textbook is important to me as a black woman, who uses my own gift of spoken word to tell black women like me that they must find the beauty within themselves and learn to love themselves before they look for it in any other place.  This textbook, is for all women, but it is especially targeted for black and other minority women. Those who not only deal with the issues of sexism, but also deal with the issues of racism and discrimination. Moreover, we often times deal with misogyny from our own black men.  This textbook is thus designed to relay the ultimate message that despite all that we face each and every day, we are wonderful, we are empowering, we are intelligent, we are beautiful. With the popularity of social media today, I believe a lot of young girls search for identity in the wrong places, you absolutely must search within yourself first. Most importantly, as the last song will illuminate, you must know that the most important person in this world loves you more than you will ever know, God.

  1. Unpretty by TLC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2gy1Evb1Kg  This song creates a dialogue about girls and women looking for external things to define their beauty, but when all those things are  no longer there to mask the insecurities, you still end up feeling “Damn Unpretty.”  Therefore, they are encouraging girls to find beauty that is not equated to external things that will not always be there to mask their true feelings about themselves. Find inner beauty. Here some of the most significant lyrics from the song, “ You can buy your hair if it won’t grow. You can fix your nose if he says so. You can buy all the make-up that M.A.C. can make, but if you can’t look inside you find out who am I too. Be in the position to make me feel so, damn unpretty”
  1. Pretty Hurts by Beyonce https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXXQLa-5n5w : In this song Beyonce speaks about the disease that sickens the whole nation, the goal of perfection. She especially addresses this song to women in particular because we are often lead to believe that our outside beauty (whether that be hair, weight, skin complexion) is all that matters. This drives many women to be truly unhappy when trying to reach an unreachable goal of perfection.  But the most important message is that such beauty does not equate to happiness. Happiness is can only happy when you are living for yourself and for the expectations of others. Notable lyrics: “When you’re alone all by yourself… Reflection stares right into you. Are you happy with yourself?”
  1. Video- India Arie: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=india+arie+video In this song Arie sings about all the things about her that may deem her as beautiful in the “mainstream” eyes, but that does not matter because she knows her worth. She is a QUEEN. Notable lyrics: “I’m not the average girl from your videos, but I learn to love myself individually because I am a queen”
  1. Beautiful by Christina Aguilera https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAfyFTzZDMM : In this song, Christina Aguilera  is telling her, at the time, young audience that they are beautiful in every single way and encourages them to not allow words to bring them down. It’s a v ery uplifting songs, and I can imagine that the song helped many teenage girls who may have been struggling with low self-esteem and/or those who were bullied in school.  Notable lyrics: “ You are beautiful, no matter what they say.. words can’t bring you down”
  1. Keep Ya Head Up by Tupac https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfXwmDGJAB8 – In this song, Tupac pays homage to black women and all that they go through on a day to day basis, even by their own men.  He encourages them to keep their head up, in the midst of the tough circumstance they go through.  He also emphasizes that everyone needs to respect black women or else…( Notable lyrics): “We’ll have a race of babies who hate the ladies who make the babies..”– Tupac has always been ahead of his time and been able to envision what things may look like decades later.  Sometimes it feels as though we are not too far from what he said in that lyric, but as he said, “Ladies, keep ya head up.”
  1. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRUba8smRj0 – Lauryn Hill is one my favorite artists of all time. Listening to the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album as a child, who was a single mother at the time, I think is a significant reason why self-identity and self-love as a black women has been aspects of my life that I have found very significant.  In one particular song, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which is the song she named her album after, she gives us insight into how she personally found a way to dig deep into herself and find her own destiny.   Instead of looking for answers form others and or other parts of her environment, she learned to follow her own heart and create her own story.  Notable Lyrics: “And every time I’ve tried to be, what someone else thought of me. So caught up, I wasn’t able to achieve. But deep in my heart, the answer it was in me. And I made up in my mind, to define my own destiny.
  1. Masterpiece by Jazmine Sullivan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-7EM872Bd4 : This song is coming off of Jazmine Sullivan’s hiatus from music, due an unhealthy relationship she had with her ex-boyfriend.  After being in a unhealthy, abusive relationship (whether physical or mental abuse), one’s self-esteem and worth is devalued. Sullivan used her gift of writing and singing to find her self-worth and value. Notable Lyrics: “Every part of me is a vision of a portrait of Mona, Mona Lisa.  Every part of me is beautiful, and I finally see I’m a work of art. A Masterpiece.”  
  2. Independent by Destiny Child: This song is a women anthem! It is the song priding women who are independent and do not need a man to tell them who they are or how they will live their life.  That’s how all women and young women should view themselves, INDEPENDENT, and never depending on a man for their needs and wants. Notable Lyrics: “The house I live in, I bought it. The car I’m driving, I bought it. I depend on me.”
  3. Greatest Love of All- Whitney Houston: In this song, the legend, Whitney Houston gives everyone a lesson that you should always love yourself and depend on yourself. Notable lyrics:  “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”
  4. Imagine Me by Kirk Franklin: This is the very last song because it has a distinct message compared to the other nine songs. While self-love, self-identity, self-worth, and independence are all things that all women should encompass and discover. The most important love that will help when no one else seems to be there, even when you cannot find it within yourself, is the love God has for you, as his child.  Once that day comes where you meet him face to face, all your insecurities and obstacles will we gone. Notable Lyrics: “Imagine me, me being free, trusting you totally.  Finally I can.. Imagine me ( I admit Jesus) I admit It was hard to see.  You being in love with someone like me ( like me. Finally I can…Imagine.

Why Riot? Why Loot? Why Violence?

On the VH1’s documentary, “ Uprising: Hip-Hop and the LA Riots”,  after LAPD responsible for the Rodney King’s beating were found not guilty, Patricia Moore from the city council, was asked how she felt about the events.  She replied, “I’m scared to death. Because I know the rage, I know the anger, and I know exactly how my people are feeling.”  This is exactly the answer to why riot? Why loot? Why violence?  It is a human reaction of compassion and rage, when it seems like the opposite means of compassion (i.e. kindness, peace) do not seem to be doing the job.  When a group that is constantly being oppressed with violence, they begin to question peaceful actions as a means to have their oppressors  love them as human beings rather than treat them as animals.  This was the idea of many people during the Black Power movement.  One lady during a Black Power documentary was outraged at how people had the nerve to ask her people, “Why violence?” when she constantly sees her own people’s faces smashed on the streets, people killed by officers, and black bodies lynched.  Yet, they’re asking her why violence? Violence is all I see in America, was basically her reply.  When  your oppressor is the one who is creating injustice through violence, to some, it seems implausible to wait for them to become peaceful.  Instead one needs to fight, whatever means necessary, for the life, we as blacks deserve.

While rioting, looting, and violence is indeed a rational response to historical acts of injustice, dehumanization, and oppression, it is not a means to an end of change, in my own opinion. In the VH1 documentary, Ice Cube mentioned that the only way to get white people to hear you is to act violent, and I absolutely agree. Sometimes peaceful or more organized acts are simply ignored, but violence, rioting, and looting definitely catch the attentions to those who would not listen initially. However, here’s an analogy that I would like to use in order to get my point across.  Let’s say you are having a debate with someone and disagreeing about something. You  are respectfully presenting facts to them, yet they reject your stance.  You may then get upset and begin to yell at them angrily your argument. Though you certainly have their attention now and they hear you; their attention does not equate to understanding or empathy.  A lot of times attention drawn by acts of anger instead create a lack of empathy.  It allows those who are in the wrong to focus on everything EXCEPT the message that you are conveying.  But the method of delivery that was chosen to convey that message allows oppressors to continue to distract everyone from the true problem at hand.  But again, when peace seems not to be doing the job, I fault no one for being human and turning to rage. It’s inevitable when your existence seems to not be taken seriously in a country that prides itself on “freedom and liberty.”

 

Recent Events

I clearly remember shortly after the events surrounding the Trayvon Martin case transpired in 2011, walking into my class called “Race Matters,during my first semester of my first year. and having discussions about how we felt about the case. Many of us outraged. Though it had happened across the country to someone who we did not know personally, we felt connected. Thus, we still wanted our voices to be heard.  Fast forward three years later, I learn of the Mike Brown case, right before my third year of college was about to begin. Once again,  I hear various different classmates giving their opinion of the case. Many of my fellow peers feeling outraged and connected despite its personal and geographical distance to us individually.  And then again with the Garner case last semester. Now, fast forward another year, and there is an incident right here, here in the school’s community. One that is not only geographically close but personally for many of us who know the victim Moreover, there is the same outrage and sadness

These events during my college career often times make it hard for me to just go about college life as if it’s some separate world that I am not a part of. While to others after hearing these stories, it’s easy to go about their day.  These stories frighten me. I have black brothers. I have a black father. I have black cousins. And to not have an urge to make a change in the midst of injustice that I have seen transpire day after day, would be highly unacceptable on my part. When receiving the email last week from Black Dot about what had transpired on the corner, I was in the middle of studying for an exam. I immediately stopped and cried. Because here it was right in front of us. The same story, we’ve heard way too many times.

While this event has been extremely unfortunate, it has brought about activism that is very much needed at UVA and in the Charlottesville community as a whole. There have been various forums, protest, meetings on how we will demand change. Also, the hashtag #NotJustUVA has been carried vastly around twitter, which shares the prejudices minority students face in their day to day lives while in college.  In this class, we talk about how today  seems different from the civil rights movement when it comes to fighting for a cause, since blacks today seem to have different causes they deem important.  I think this common among us college students particularly.  But I hope last week’s events show many of us that it does not matter if you are educated, poor, wealthy, well-spoken, a leader, a follower, etc, if you are deemed as inferior to someone else in power, injustices can occur.  Therefore, we ALL should be joining this fight.

The Movie: Invictus

In 1948, South Africa’s all white government enforced existing policies of racial segregation, known under legislation, as apartheid.  Non-white South Africans, majority of the population, were mandated to use public spaces separately from whites and live separately from them as well.  Nelson Mandela was one of the significant figures to fight against apartheid in South Africa, where he formed a youth league to form a radical approach to end it (History, 2015).  In 1964, he was sentenced to life in prison for his attempts to overturn the state. During the mid-1980s, the cry for change was rampant, and Mandela was a big symbol for that change. Thus, all over the world people rallied and pleaded for his release. In 1990, he was finally set free after serving 27 years in prison.  In order to create a South Africa where racial division was eradicated, Mandela knew once he was released that any ill feelings he had, needed to be obliterated.  He had to learn how to forgive. Invictus traces his action of stopping bitterness from getting away of his goal of unity between the Africkanas (white South Africans) and blacks in South Africa, and the example he set for others to do the same, as the first black president in South Africa.  The movie Invictus demonstrates how Mandela uses South Africa’s rugby team, the Springboks, as an instrument to bring about unity.

To many blacks, The Springboks, were seen as a symbol of the racial injustice that had plagued South Africa all throughout history. Thus, many were reluctant in supporting the team; however, Mandela had a different vision.  He believed that a World Cup victory by the Springboks could be what South Africa really needed in order to become one. Though many did not clearly understand his vision initially, the movie shows the gradual progress of harmony that takes place.  By the end of the film, the Springboks win the World cup, and South Africans of all races and cultures stand and cheer together, while South Africa’s national anthem plays in the background, symbolizing Mandela’s goal of unison.

The film Invictus served as a work of art because it was like poetry in motion. The poem started off with history of Mandela and the things that he went through prior to being president. The film didn’t really go into specific detail about his experiences, but there are enough references to pick up on it. The poem continues when Mandela has this idea of bringing an entire country together through Rugby. The relationship that his body guards have is really the symbolism of art. They meet each other and are immediately skeptical because of their differences in their backgrounds. Etienne and Jason often go back and forth about soccer and rugby, but by the end of the film everyone seems to be on the same page and the rest is history.

In the film Invictus there are many things that happen in the film that seem too good to be true. For the most part it seemed like President Mandela was accepted by the people of South Africa.  Besides hearing some “boos” when being introduced and having a bottle thrown at him when leaving the rugby match there wasn’t much push back against Mandela being the president. The scene that really caught our attention regarding reality was when President Mandela went to tell the group that was all in favor of changing the name, colors, and jerseys of the South African rugby team. That went over a lot smoother than we thought it would in real life.  “I thought about President Obama and tried to put him in that situation and I feel like he would catch hell for that, either he would be looked at as a sellout or it would seem like he is coming in making major changes.” -Isaiah

Brittney Williams  email: baw4cf@virginia.edu

britt   

Isaiah Wilkins email: Iw4vd@virginia.edu

isaiah

 

Citation:

History (2015). Apartheid. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/apartheid

How Will I Broaden My Network?

As I was working on this blog post, I kept asking myself, how do I broaden my individual network for social change?  First, I thought of some issues that really resonate with me as a result of my own personal experience.  I was blessed enough to have the opportunity to be a part of a class last year called Books Behind Bars here at the University of Virginia.  This was a community-based literature course. We went to a juvenile prison every week for a semester and facilitated discussions on Russian literature, which served as a vehicle to engage in open conversations about significant life questions such as “What makes happiness?” and “What do I want to be remembered for when I die.” During this experience my partner and I were able to become extremely close to the two young men we met with every week.  We were able to know them as people, not solely “prisoners” a label that does not adequately portray their existence as a whole.  They explained to us that during this particular two-hour period, they learned so much about themselves which helped them significantly grow, more than any other time spent in prison, while also learning and engaging in intellectual conversation.

This individual experience really has made me want to share a particular message with everyone through my spoken word writings and through conversations with people that I come in contact with  in class discussions and at church.  The message is, “Everyone should have a chance to be heard, no matter what their circumstances and life mistakes are. Moreover, while juveniles should be responsible for their actions, rehabilitation through intellectual activities while in juvenile prisons can really make a positive influential difference in their life, which is the goal of the juvenile justice system.”  With my individual experience with “Books Behind Bars” as an undergraduate student at UVA, and my recent admission into the University of Virginia’s School of Law, I hope to use my platform as a lawyer to broaden my network in creating change for juveniles in correctional facilities, where classes such as Books Behind Bars become the norm in such facilities.

Protest Songs: Then and Now

With the recent race-related events over the past few years that have caused many people to question how far the U.S. has actually come, freedom and protest songs are just as significant today as they were in the 1960s.  Music can be used as a medium to convey a message through arts, while reaching the masses.   I chose two specific songs to compare, one was a freedom song released in 1965, “People Get Ready” by the Impressions and Curtis Mayfield.  The second song I chose was released by Sony in 2014. It is called “One Day” (Vandaag) by Dutch musical artist and producer, Bakermat.  Though 49 years separate the two songs, they both relay the same type of message of hope and dreams that one day everyone will see better days, better days that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke so much about in his speeches.

The first song, “People Get Ready” embodies the faith that drove the Civil Rights movement.  Instead of having feelings of pessimism and sadness, its sound  is soulful and has a gospel feel to it , while its lyrics are optimistic, paralleling, to the speeches and messages of Martin Luther King Jr. during the movement.  The song states:

“People get ready, there’s a train to Jordan, picking up passengers coast to coast. Faith is the key, open the doors and board them. There’s hope for all among those who love the most.”

The train that the song speaks about is metaphorically speaking of a train that will take everyone to a place of freedom, peace, and love, a place that is characteristically similar to the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King hoped for.

The second song, “One Day (Vandaag)” actually does not have its own lyrics but instead, has Martin Luther King’s  1963 “I Have a Dream” speech which spoke of his dream of racism ceasing, playing over a soulful composition and a beautiful a saxophone solo by Ben Rodenburg.  Vandagg means “today” in Dutch. Thus, the producer created this song to express that this dream that Dr. King had must still be alive today, despite the horrible things that have happened in this country over the years.  Without any of his own lyrics, he uses a soulful composition and a saxophone soloist (a sound that was heavy in blues and soul) to embody that same optimistic feeling that “People Get Ready” did.  So they are similar in that they embody the messages of hope and faith that Dr. King spoke about.  While “One Day” explicitly used the words of Dr. King, “People Get Ready” does so implicitly, and each song was sung by people of totally different ethnic backgrounds, African Americans from Chicago, and the other from Dutch decent.  Despite the differences, both songs embodied soul, which I agree simply means music that touches the soul, whether it arouse feelings of hope, anger, sadness, or happiness. Soul music just means it makes you feel something deep inside, and both songs did this during very significant times in history.

Bringing about Change through your Gift

How would you use the arts, your creativity, and/or gift to bring about change? Frederick Douglas and Martin Luther King Jr used their gift of speaking to bring about change during a time where much change was needed.  Maya Angelou used her gift and creativity as a poet to express feelings of hope to a community of people who were overwhelmed with hopelessness.  How would you use your gift? We are all gifted in some way..