About mam4ve

I am a second year student at the University of Virginia

Our world without social media

A world without social media is hard to imagine in modern society. Many peoples’ entire lives are consumed and constructed by their own portrayal of themselves through social networking. It can be assumed that in a world without social media people would be less self-image obsessed and have better in-person communication skills. However, to take a twist on the typical talk concerning social media and it’s powerful, yet oftentimes self-deprecating effects, I will discuss the deeper implications, as well, concerning much larger epidemics, including those in developing countries.

Social media is a powerful resource. People from all over the world have immediate access to each other. Looks into the cultures of other people are made possible, alongside of easy communication ability. Without social media, separate countries and the areas within them would be secluded, resulting in the development of different cultural customs and ethical/moral beliefs and practices within these small spheres. Uniform, smaller communities will be created, left unconnected through lack of social media and untouched by influence of other cultures beyond their own. We see this above example in developing countries that in many areas do not have access to social media. Oftentimes, these developing countries are left behind while the rest of the world’s cultures diverge and intermingle. For example, the birth control epidemic in developing countries has become a prevalent issue. The global census confirms that much of the unneeded population growth is occurring in underdeveloped countries that do not have access to social media, where they could be granted access to women’s empowerment movements that could sway their decision-making.

In “Passage Home” by Teresa-Dowel Vest, she depicts an unfamiliar world, set in 2019. In this world, the United States is deporting any citizen than cannot prove their citizenship and all citizens are being federally tracked through assigned numbers. Rather than discussing the implications of her novel, I want to point out the role that social media would play in this hypothetical situation. There would be global uproar for numerous ethical and moral reasons and on the basis of equality and historical achievements. Without social media to use as a tool, chaos would outbreak and other areas would be unaware of the actions that different places are committing against the government. Opinions would be much more difficult to voice without social media as a tool. Communication would have to travel by word of mouth.

Without social media as we know it, the world would be a much different place. Cultural mixing would be much less common and the opinions of the general public would be much more difficult to come across. Overall, a world without social media has its benefits, however, most of the cards that social media brings to the table are here for the better and allow a much more well-rounded world.

“Forgive them father for they know not what they do”

Lauryn Hill’s “Forgive Them Father” from her album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, is extremely applicable in modern society and on grounds here at the University of Virginia. Betrayal and mistreatment are arguably the main focuses of the piece.

The song opens by sighting phrases of the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” and then goes on to warn people to “beware [of] the false motives of others, be careful of those who pretend to be brothers.” Her message rings true to the competitive nature of students at a university such as ours, some of which are willing to take any measure to put themselves ahead of their “competition.” If people cannot stand up for their selves, then they will be used and manipulated by others. Lauryn Hill touches on this idea by stating, “Sick of men trying to pull strings like Geppetto” and “Why for you to increase I must decrease?”

Her lyrics also focus on suppression of race, reading, “march through those streets like Soweto.” Soweto is an area in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, where there was an uprising. In this revolution 21 black students died of the 23 students (altogether) that marched (Wikipedia). Therefore, the aforementioned lyric is presumably encouraging people to fight against mistreatment and manipulation and to demand their rights. Here at the university we see circumstances where these lyrics are applicable, such as the mistreatment of African American young adults. An example of this mistreatment is the police brutality used against our own Martese Johnson.

One aspect of the song that makes its message so strong is that Lauryn Hill is not solely focusing on one race in her search for equality, in fact she only mentions race specifically once, when stating, “Why black people always be the ones to settle?” This aspect of her piece allows it to appeal to all groups of people, furthering the need for equality and fair treatment of all human beings. She says “Even when they comin, gunnin I stand in position,” to encourage people to stand up for themselves and their rights.

The lyrics “Dem not know what dem do” are consecutively repeated to provide the argument that many people do not realize the harm that they are causing. Lauryn Hill would argue that many peoples’ methods are so rooted in self-interest that they are blind to their wrongs.

Information about Soweto:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soweto

Black women, Hip Hop, and Social Revolution

“Hip hop is inherently political, the language is political. It uses language as a weapon—not a weapon to violate or not a weapon to offend, but a weapon that pushes the envelope that provokes people, makes people think”- Todd Boyd (npr)

Numerous women have made a name for themselves in the male-dominated Hip Hop industry. Hip Hop within itself is a global movement, used as an artistic approach for calling attention to political and social problems manifested in societies. Women’s equality is a social issue that many societies work to combat; therefore, the Hip Hop Revolution is made more powerful and more progressive due to the added aspect of women’s success in the industry.

Queen Latifah comes to mind when speaking about successful women in the hip-hop industry. In her song “U.N.I.T.Y” she presents herself as a “positive black woman speaking about uplifting young woman” (Billboard), a social movement within itself. “U.N.I.T.Y” called attention to prominent social issues, such as “domestic violence and the objectification of Black female sexuality” (Socialism). Nicki Manaj also works as a modern day example. She has been more successful than many men in the industry, bringing forth issues concerning the wage gap between genders, because she has personally overcome this trial through her work.

Hip Hop was once considered “meaningless noise” (npr), however it is now mainstream, a revolution within itself. Women were once excluded from hip-hop and even objectified by it, but now many are dominating the charts and making huge names for themselves. “A new wave of Black feminists…not only call into question the sexism and racism present in the rap industry, but who use the genre to empower African American woman” (socialism), as aforementioned with Queen Latifah’s work in the industry.  Through their work, these empowering women are combining pop culture with the social revolutions that need to take place within societies concerning equality of women, and thus inspiring change.

It is undeniable that women have made a significant impact on the social revolution of hip-hop through calling attention to numerous issues that were overlooked by men working in the industry. Through making a name for themselves women have overcome social barriers and inspired activism within the general public.

Sources:

Cheairs, Katherine. “Women, Feminism, & Hip Hop.” Women, Feminism, & Hip Hop | www.socialism.com. Freedom Socialist Party, Dec. 2005. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.

Ramirez, Erika. “Ladies First: 31 Female Rappers Who Changed Hip-Hop.” Billboard. Billboard, n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2015

Simon, Scott. “Hip Hop: Today’s Civil Rights Movement?” NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.

Why Violence?

Through VH1’s “Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots” we are able to see different perspectives of the LA riots and Hip Hop’s contribution to the movement from rappers, musicians, LAPD officers, celebrities and community members. The question “why violence?” is made clear through the documentary. People were tired of peaceful protest; they wanted immediate change and even retaliation against the extreme prejudice the African American race faced, especially from the police force (LAPD) in this area. A protest participant stated, “what’s taking place right now is revenge…they Rodney King trial, the verdict. Everybody’s doing what they got to do to get justice out there.”

Rodney King was wrongfully and severely beaten by police officers who were said to be yelling “we gon’ kill you n****r, you better run.” The LAPD officers who committed the assault were ruled innocent and sparks were lit in the black community. Even the LAPD deputy chief admitted to believing the verdict of the case was wrong and that those officers were not justified in their actions. John Singleton referred to the assault as a “lynching on tape.” Las Angeles was awakened; the city, along with many surrounding cities, had grown tired of the violence that they were enduring—they were ready to end it.

The LAPD was already a hated force within the black community. Many locals of the Southern California ghettos claimed that the assault of Rodney King was nothing new to them. For others, the assault gave hope that the LAPD would finally be “blown open” and investigated.

Hip Hop became an outlet for anger within the black community. A song titled “F*ck the Police was released” and became the theme song for the riots. Both whites and blacks rallied against the LAPD for their wrongful actions, and it is important to note that there were African American members of the LAPD, as well. Although blacks were absolutely targeted, people living in poverty were targeted as a whole, no matter their race.

Those who met at First AME church after the not guilty verdict were inside speaking about peaceful protest, however for those outside, peaceful was not an option. They believed immediate and violent action was required in order to enact change. They marched down the street, looted, and burned down the town in order to get attention, prove their point, and make a difference. Through their actions, a difference was made. The LAPD was forced to clean up its act and the federal government forced reforms.

The area in LA that was targeted is still overrun by poverty. People still need jobs. People are losing their homes and ending their own lives due to the bad situations they are enduring. It is a difficult and discouraging way to live. However, police brutality is said to have improved since the time of the Rodney King assault, and hopefully it will continue to do so.

Music textbook–a little bit of everything

Welcome to my music textbook. The songs I have chosen are ones that I believe teach a significant lesson in modern society, and many of the pieces have personal significance to me. I have chosen to tackle diverse array of concepts through my choices. Enjoy!

1) “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” was written by Joel about events that had happened since his birth in 1949, covering a lot of United States history. Many of the spit-fire allusions to historical events used in the song were highly disputed issues in their time. Through the song we are able to see that current issues will become history and new issues will arise. However, there are allusions to events that are still significant and often discussed in modern society, such as watergate, Malcolm X, “JFK blown away,” and foreign debts. The song shows that there have always been problems in the world, some will be overcome more quickly than others and hope remains. He states “We didn’t light it but we’ve tried to fight it,” insinuating that his generation did not start these aforementioned “fires” but that they have tried to combat them, much like many would say of our generation.

2) “Where is the Love?” by The Black Eyed Peas

This song directly combats the racism that took place (and continues to do so) in the United States. Rather than targeting one race, the song focuses on ALL races being accepting of each other, making it very effective and non-controversial. The issues in this song are still prominent today, such as gang violence, discrimination and hate, selfishness and materialism. Truths are kept secret, “if you never know truth then you never know love.” Our morals and the values of humanity are questioned and challenged. The lyric, “where is the love” is constantly repeated, making the listener question himself/herself and society as a whole. We are challenged to remember that we are all part of one world and not to waste our time here on hate and violence.

3) “Heartbreak Warfare” by John Mayer

“Heartbreak Warfare” focuses on complications in relationships. There is an unspoken war between this couple, and initially neither person wants to “put their weapons down” and make up because they fear defeat and diminishment of self-pride. “Watch my face as I pretend to feel no pain” clearly shows the internalized battle that people often face within relationships. John Mayer expresses a deep love for the woman who is challenging his sincere attempts to fix their relationship. He challenges listeners, through his struggle, to put their weapons down (let go of their pride) and make up with someone they love because there is no sense in “heartbreak warfare.”

4) “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree 

“You Gotta be” is an uplifting piece that tackles idealistic expectations of society by saying that only love will save the day. As human beings, we cannot always be “hard, tough, bad, bold” and etc, however, we can do things to better ourselves and we can certainly try to be courageous and resilient. Through Des’ree’s lyrics we are challenged to keep our heads up through hard times, face our fears, and focus on love. Love, not solely in a relationship sense, but love for everyone and everything we are surrounded by is the focus of the message.

5) “Be Free” by J.Cole

The first time I heard “Be Free” was in my SC4SCUVA class here at UVA and it really struck a cord with me. As soon as we were assigned this project I knew I would include this piece in my music textbook. The song was written directly in protest to the events that took place in Ferguson. Through “Be Free” J.Cole challenges society on the basis of racial discrimination. He states, “Are we all alone fighting on our own…Don’t just stand around,” calling people to take action against the bigotry that still remains in society. He is speaking for his entire race when he says “All we want to do is be free.” “Be Free” has a really significant place in society and calls attention to discriminatory issues that are often swept under the rug.

6) “It’s a Beautiful Day” by U2

“Beautiful Day” encourages people to focus on the beauty in small things and to not waste time worrying about the other unnatural things. “It’s a beautiful day, don’t let it get away” encourages the listener to cherish the moments he or she is blessed with; it introduces hope. Bad things happen–“the traffic is stuck and you’re not moving anywhere,” but nevertheless “its a beautiful day.” Looking forward to the future (through the bad) gives off the positive aura of the song, while still challenging the listener to focus on the beauty of the day they are in. “What you don’t have, you don’t need it now” meaning that if you truly need something, you will have it–if it hasn’t been given to you, then it was not meant to be. Overall, the song encourages listeners to look for the beauty in the day they’re in.

7) “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack 

“I Hope You Dance” has personal significance for me because it helped my friend through a really difficult time after her mom committed suicide. I believe the song means: I hope that you always live happily, take chances, and never give up when you experience failure. Although the song is initially what a mother wants for her children, it also correlates well with suicide because its about what you want for another person in life. “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder, you get that fill to eat but always keep that hunger”–the sense of wonder and hunger would be absent in a person who is contemplating ending their own life. “When you come close to selling out reconsider” is another lyric that can be interpreted in the aforementioned sense. Overall, the song challenges the listener to have no fear and to not give up, which are lessons that can be applied in numerous places in a person’s life.

8) “Typical Situation” by Dave Matthews Band

“Typical Situation” is another song that focuses on viewing all people as one, rather than segregating them into different groups based on race, religious beliefs, and numerous other categories. The artist suggests that he can see many different perspectives aside from his own. The song focuses on having the ability to not judge others for being different from you. The lyric “everybody’s happy, everybody’s free” adversely works to point out the problems, such as discrimination, that are still very apparent in the modern world. Most literally, the song was written about the apartheid in South Africa. However, the song can be scaled up or down to smaller or larger groups of people with diverse characteristics that could be targets of discrimination and oppression.

9) “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles 

Skip to 1:22 if you only want to see the dance, but the interviews before talk about the relationship violence that the song deals with. I chose to include the video with the dance because I am a dancer and this Mia Michael’s piece has always been really special to me. Relationship violence manifests itself in numerous different forms, some of which are often unidentifiable to people that are experiencing them. “Gravity” focuses on an addictive relationship, where the girl cannot stop going back to a partner who is “toxic” to her, in a sense. “You hold me without touch, you keep me without chains” suggests that she cannot mentally part herself from him. The song focuses on the detrimental affects of damaging relationships on a person, giving comfort to the listener while simultaneously encouraging a way out.

10) “Same Love” by Macklemore

“Same Love” was extremely popular upon it’s debut in 2012. It focuses on discrimination in general, most specifically against the gay community. “‘Man that’s gay’ gets dropped on the daily. We become so numb to what we’re saying”–the song brings awareness to the term “gay” being used in a derogatory manner. “I can’t change. Even if I tried” is used to point out that (although he is straight) he cannot change his sexual preferences and neither can homosexual people. The Bible is referenced several times throughout the song, challenging those who claim to be religious to take note of the love and patience that the Bible teaches. “No law is gonna change us, we have to change us”–the entire work challenges people to be more accepting of others and more sensitive when it comes to word choice because “Its the same hate thats caused wars from religion.”

 

Not on our grounds

I am extremely saddened by the events that took place between Martese Johnson and the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) police on the night of Tuesday, March 17th. Upon first hearing the news I wanted to disregard race as a factor, but I think we all know that is not possible. This was not the first instance that this sort of police brutality has been displayed, and I think we, as a UVA community and members of our society, should take measures to combat these evident prejudices. However, the circumstances are difficult to comprehend and I cannot offer the best way to work against the discrimination. There still has not been a final verdict on the case that has been announced to the public, which to me is concerning, especially because of the many “he said, she said” accounts of what happened on that night. Regardless, a video and photograph prove that extreme and unnecessary force was used against one of the members of our student body.

Racial discrimination goes far beyond the grounds of UVA, but we do serve as a prime example of how this discrimination develops. Many students at UVA come from wealthy white, middle-to-upper class families; some students have had little interaction (in terms of personal relationships) with African American people prior to coming to this university, whereas others have grown up with people of color and have experienced strong relationships with them. For instance, because I grew up in a community with a heavy African American population I was raised with many who are some of my best friends and absolutely my equals. Our backgrounds and personal experiences have shaped who we are and how we view different races. But why do “they” have to be viewed as different from white people, as if they are a different breed? I understand that it is historically embedded in society, but I feel like all people, especially educated people, should be able to see beyond these historical implications.

I think many white students, and probably some African American students, as well, are trying to factor out racism as the cause of this incident due to denial. People should be able to point blank talk about race and confront these blatant issues rather than being afraid to say something that could possibly be self-deprecating. Without courageous people a change will not come. Through my experience at UVA and especially through my SC4SCUVA class, I have heard numerous well thought-out and intelligent opinions, concerns, and suggestions regarding the racism that the black community faces. There are so many people in this class that I believe whole-heartedly could make a difference just by speaking their mind and inspiring others because of their passion and intelligence.

I believe that organization and longevity would be the most effective methods to enact change. I believe that “change” needs to be defined and made more specific. Goals need to be set and opinions need to be heard. Plans should be made and carried out, and although this incident was an absolute horror, we are fortunate (in a sense) for it to have happened in a community where citizens are not afraid to stand up and take action. I believe that UVA students have the intelligence and courage required for the task.

Film, Social Change, and Real Courage

To Kill a Mockingbird

Film and reality differ in the sense that, unlike reality, film can be edited, directed, and manipulated until a work becomes exactly what its producer wants. Reality cannot be as tightly scripted and perfected. Because film can be so strongly monitored, it holds a great power. Messages can be clearly portrayed through film in ways that could be otherwise unsuccessful. Film has been used throughout history to document significant historical events and to raise awareness for problems that societies are currently facing.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is an extremely influential book and film that gives a strong historical context and remains easily relatable to modern society in many ways. Chinelo Okonkwo and I chose to focus on the social change implications dealing with the accounts of prejudice and racism that are so apparent throughout the film.

The film is set in a majority-white community during the Great Depression in the fictional Maycomb, Alabama. Tom Robinson, a hardworking and innocent black man, is accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell. He is convicted guilty despite it having been physically impossible for him to commit this crime. Tom, in this film, is one of the mockingbirds.

The mockingbird is a symbol of innocence. To kill one would be tarnishing it by having it come in contact with evil, as Tom does in the film.

Upon analyzing the film, Chinelo immediately brought up an interesting point in stating that during the time setting of the film rape was often used as a means to justify lynching and worked as the means behind many black bodies being taken from jails. In To Kill A Mockingbird the viewer will surely observe this when the lynching mob surrounds the jail that Tom Robinson is being held in.

The film is powerful because, as a viewer, one is completely aware of the innocence of Tom Robinson, causing the viewer to be pulling for him the entire time and practically begging for him to receive the justice that he deserves.

Atticus Finch plays a prominent roll in the film because he chose to stand behind Tom Robinson and be his lawyer despite the turmoil that it will cause for him and his children. He believes in this man’s innocence despite his race, as one should. Atticus serves as a symbol for social change throughout the film; he is an advocate for equality in his own right and acts on what he believes to be true. He is unafraid of going against the majority and he stands strong in his beliefs. One might assume that he was placed in this film to portray how people should behave—steadfastly courageous.

It is evident that the film worked to frame a setting that allows the audience to see the injustice and degradation that blacks were experiencing at that time. The film forces people to that American ideals, like the promise for social justice and equality, was not being met at that time. By viewing this film in a modern setting we are able to ask ourselves—are these promises being met today?

Injustice and inequality are still evident in modern society in numerous forms and films like To Kill a Mockingbird have challenged and still do challenge these prejudices. Films are important mechanisms to bring about social change because they have the power to be perfected.

-collaborative thought between Macy Mantooth and Chinelo Okonkwo

Creating your network

The ability to take one’s own individual world and broaden it to build a network is one of the most useful abilities that a person can obtain. Usually this is done through having good social skills and an interesting perspective or life to follow. A person aiming to broaden his or her network should be courageous in the sense that he or she is unafraid of judgement from other people, looking to expand connections and establish a following.

For someone to want to participate in another’s desire for social change, one must first be inspired by them to the point that they long to assist in constructing this change. There is a direct correlation behind the number of people working working to make a difference and the effective qualities of the movement.

There are numerous ways people can be encouraged to participate in another’s desire for social change. Using talents is what I believe to be the most important way. A person who is an amazing photographer should use his or her talent in photography, whereas a person who is an incredible public speaker should use that talent to his or her advantage. Knowing strengths and weaknesses is also an important aspect of broadening an individual’s network. Strengths should be utilized while weaknesses are downplayed.

In our generation, social media is arguably the best resource when looking to inspire others. People can post music, photos, videos and thoughts. People have almost full control over how their messages on social media come across, and it has become increasingly easy to “follow” someone’s network and join in on a movement.

Reading and seeing numerous different posts on social media every day can help a person create their own standing on a cause and can help him or her decide how much she or he wants to take part in a movement. One may even choose to create a counter-argument for a cause, if necessary.

In general, social media is one of the most effective ways to create a network. Individual qualities are infused into posts that are put out for the entire world to interact with.

Political messages, can you hear them?

Songs and their lyrics have played an important role in culture ever since the beginning of their existence. Music plays an important role in American culture, often used to relay political messages, especially in genres such as hiphop and rap. Some might argue that due to popular preference music has begun to fall away from it’s originally political base, however, others argue that music is returning to it’s political roots.

The 1960s were an important decade for music, often referred to as the “decade of protest.” Protests were administered through music for causes such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Give Peace A Chance” from this decade played a prominent role. The song was specifically created to target the Vietnam War, however, the lyrics could just as easily be applied to the immense struggle for the civil rights of African American people during that time.

With lyrics such as:

“Ev’rybody’s talkin’ ’bout
Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism
This-ism, that-ism, ism ism ism
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance”

And,

“Integrations, mediations, United Nations, congratulations
All we are saying is give peace a chance”

…through these lyrics it is easy to see that peace, in all areas, is the target of this work; peace from war, peace from discrimination (hence the “integrations”), and peace in all other areas, as well.

This use of music is not unique to the 1960’s. Music artists, especially those of Hiphop and Rap, have contributed numerous political messages to society for many decades. Now, these messages are even more easily accessible directly through the mainstream media. Although some songs are solely produced for auditory appeal, there are numerous songs currently that contain deep political messages.  For example, Kendrick Lamar’s “The Blacker the Berry” contains a deep sociopolitical message about the ongoing discrimination against his race

An excerpt of the lyrics reads:

“Church me with your fake prophesying that I’mma be another slave in my head
Institutionalize my (?) in lies
Reciprocation of freedom only live in your eyes
You hate me don’t you?”

A clear socio-political horror is evident in Lamar’s message. The hatred he feels targets his race is exposed through his choice of lyrics. As an artist he is using his talent to ensure that people do not forget that continuous racial discrimination is still alive and endured by many.

Although both works, Lennon’s and Lamar’s, were set in entirely different eras, both songs target and encourage change, both are forms of protest, and both songs do so through a type of social interaction. The injustice of the world is targeted by these artists, and numerous others, all working to attain a similar goal.