I think one of the biggest takeaway from watching ‘The Yes Men Fix The World’ was just how quickly the companies the Yes Men were impersonating were quick to call their antics ‘cruel.’ I agree that they undeniably gave many individuals false hope that the injustices created by various corporations would be righted. However, the irony of these corporations calling the Yes Men’s actions ‘cruel’ verges on ridiculous; a corporation that allows thousands to suffer from the negligence of a company they bought out, with seemingly no qualms and no intention to provide adequate retribution to the affected, calling the Yes Men’s actions a ‘cruel hoax’? Additionally, it was frightening to watch the segments in which the Yes Men speak with economists. Such a complete disregard for the well-being of the individual is mind-blowing, though not entirely unsurprising – the system we live in does, after all, enable to ridiculous wealth of the 1%.

*Post for week 11

Watching ‘Tongues Untied’ was, quite honestly, an eye-opening experience to me. Even as a member of the LGBTA community, I honestly had no idea just how devastating the AIDS epidemic was, especially for people of color (and black men in particular). I’m horrified that in all my years of education, never once did I learn about this extremely prevalent moment in US history; while it was mentioned in passing as a ‘notable event,’ it was never once addressed with the gravity it deserved. What made ‘Tongues Untied’ that much more devastating was the way in which it gave a voice to those our country was desperate to silence. While I of course understood at some level the importance of documentary, ‘Tongues Untied’ drove home just how vital this type of media is in lending a voice to those most in need of one, and the way in which we can continue to utilize the documentary to fight back against oppression and silencing of marginalized individuals and groups.

*Post for week nine

With everything going on in both the US and abroad as this year draws to an end, I think ACT UP’s founding principles are just as important as they were back in 1987. ACT UP fought against the dehumanization of AIDS victims; they recognized that this dehumanization created inaction amongst many protest groups. We’ve seen this dehumanization in protests throughout 2016, though perhaps most significantly at Standing Rock. By changing the dialogue of ‘us versus them’ from ‘the people versus the corporations’ to ‘the nation versus native people’, inactivity spiked to ridiculous levels. Zero mainstream media coverage other than passing mentions, white individuals affected by the pipeline remaining silent while native people fought to preserve everyone’s water source; this dehumanization and resulting inaction continues today. ACT UP was right to insist on politicizing protests to create action. I understand why many analysis seem to feel ACT UP became an umbrella movement for solidarity movements that followed, as modern protests such as BLM and NODAPL certainly embrace politicized, peaceful protests as the best method for gaining results.

*Post for week eight

‘The Medium is the Massage’ was by far one of my favorite readings of the semester. Not only was the structure of the work unique, it was also compelling and help my intention for the duration of the reading. I absolutely agree with the message of the novel, especially the point made about every structure existing in media being intentional, despite being invisible to the average consumer. It made me think of a study done several years ago that proved children as young as three years old were not only capable of recognizing brand logos, but retaining an association of each logo with their products. I recently had a conversation with my sister, who teaches first grade, where she told me that while teaching her students to write, many immediately associated the letter ‘m’ with McDonalds, to the point where they were using the logo as a way to remember how to write the letter. I guess those ‘invisible yet intentional’ structures are alive and well to this day.

Here is a link detailing the study, if anyone is interested: http://www.livescience.com/6181-3-year-understands-power-advertising.html

*Post for week seven

Thinking back on our conversation about Paulo Freire got me thinking about one particular point of his: that while we as humans continually live in a state of oppression, we are simultaneously always in a state of becoming more human and recognizing that history can, and should, be changed. This reminded me of several conversations I have had with older relatives, especially in relation to social movements such as Black Lives Matter. Without exception, every older (white) individual that I have spoken with regarding BLM has claimed they don’t understand the fuss, because ‘that’s just the way things are’ and that ‘they’ll change eventually’. I think all of them were taken aback when I basically responded with, “Maybe that’s the way things are, but if that’s the case, why can’t we be the ones to change it?” People often talk about movements such as BLM being youth movements (thought of course I don’t want to discredit the many older individuals that support these movements). I don’t know if BLM organizers have already created campaigns with this aim, but I almost feel campaigns aimed at older (white) individuals would be extremely beneficial to increasing support. I think some people just need that moment of realization, when one realizes that the culture we live in is created by those in power, and that by making enough noise, we can change what is acceptable within that culture.

*Post for week six

Harmful Commercialization (Week 14 Catch Up)

After watching the Coca-Cola commercial in class a few weeks ago, I have begun to really notice a lot of the problems with commercials that have been airing recently, especially  around Christmas time. There is one ad in particular that I have come across that aired in Mexico that exploits indigenous people. It is a coca-cola ad that shows white teenagers coming into a community on indigenous folks and basically “saving” them with coke, while completely misrepresenting a native community in Oaxaca state, who has struggled with nutritional issues in the past. I put the link here because Coca-Cola has since removed it from their Youtube channel.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/video/2015/dec/02/coca-colas-christmas-ad-panned-for-insulting-indigenous-mexicans-video

#ShoulderToShoulder and anti-Islamaphobic Media

 

At the University of Washington in Bothell, staff, faculty, deans, and 43 students created this video for the Contemporary Muslim Artists class. They used the popular #MannequinChallenge model to show how Islamophobia is affecting college campuses and students, including violence against Muslim students, protests, and prayers. The audio is incredible in the piece, as they feature audio from a news broadcast of 9/11 attack, reported hate crimes against Muslims, 2016 campaign speeches & protests, Islamic Adhan by Edris Aslami, and “This Land is Your Land” performed by Adel Abidin. It is very powerful call to end hate and Islamophobia.

Here is their project statement:

We are a class of 43 students of diverse races, religious beliefs, and political affiliations, attending the University of Washington Bothell. Brought together through “Arts In Context: Contemporary Muslim Artists” a course taught by IAS faculty member Anida Yoeu Ali, we have been inspired to bring a deeper awareness and compassion in challenging Islamophobia and the rise of anti-racial biases. In class, we discussed how the recent spike in hate crimes and campaign promises about bans and the registration of Muslims continue a post-9/11 fear of “terrorism,” with roots in Orientalist concepts. Our class final project was a challenge put forth by our professor to address the ways in which Muslim bodies engage crisis. Instead of dividing up individually or in small groups, we decided to come together as one large collective creating one ambitious project. We chose to perform a mannequin challenge titled “Shoulder to Shoulder” to address the violence experienced by Muslim communities on and off our campus. Five times a day 1.6 billion Muslims around the world stand “shoulder to shoulder” in peaceful prayer. We want to show that Muslims belong here as much as any of us. We will stand with them in solidarity and we will protect one another from harm and hate. These are our classmates, friends, neighbors, veterans and fellow Americans. Our project counters the national divide between race, religion, and politics as we hope to bring together our communities to reclaim the American value of prizing humanity over hate. Join us in unifying our nation to denounce hate and instead spread hope, compassion, and understanding.

Class Presentations (Week 10 Catch Up)

During our final presentation in class, we showed some clips from interviews with student musicians on campus. If you haven’t already done so, you should go watch all of them because the artists on our campus are truly amazing! In case any of you are interested, I put some links to Leandra and the Dream and Emeka’s music here:

https://soundcloud.com/leandraandthedream

https://www.soundcloud.com/EMEKAofficial

 

Processing Anger: A Conversation with Dr. Maya Angelou & Dave Chappelle

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Image: ComedyHype.com

I recently watched the episode of Iconoclast featuring poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou and comedian Dave Chappelle. At one point, they discussed the importance processing anger into media, art, and conversation. This is something we we shown repeatedly in class through other artists and discussed in the shadow of the Trump election, so I wanted to share it here. Chappelle asks Angelou about growing up during the 1960s, specifically citing the numerous key assassinations during that time:

Chappelle:  What does that do to a generation, having lived through that and having known those people? If this was me, I imagine I’d still be angry. I’d be angry with my country, I’d be angry with anybody who let that happen to my friends.
Angelou: If you’re not angry, you’re either a stone, or you’re too sick to be angry. You should be angry.
Chappelle: But what do you do. . .
Angelou: Now mind you, there’s a difference. You must not be bitter.
Chappelle: That’s a hard. . .(laughs)
Angelou: Now let me show you why. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger, yes, you write it, you paint it, you dance it, you march it, you vote it, you do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.

I related to what Chappelle expressed about feeling angry with my country, but also to what Angelou said about understanding that bitterness does exactly the opposite of what you want it to. I find that I am able to process my anger through music and discussion with people who have different experiences than I do to understand how their circles interpret the news around them. I’d love to know, how do you all process your anger, disgust, or bitterness with what is going on around you, and how do you “use it?”

Watch the whole thing: Iconoclast: Dave Chappelle + Maya Angelou [Full Episode] – YouTube

Angela Davis on Trump Election & BLM

angela_davis_uofc-5

Davis gave a lecture at the University of Chicago to share her advice in the aftermath of the election of Trump.The most notable insight she gave contrasts with much of the liberal rhetoric for coping with the election. Citing the Nixon administration, she warned against viewing this election as a “wake up call” that could finally shake the country into a progressive agenda.

Her commentary on Hillary Clinton embraced an insightful critique of her exclusive notion of feminism. Starting with a 1972 letter for white Southern women written by Ann Braden, “I believe that no white woman reared in the South, or perhaps anywhere in this racist country, can find freedom as a woman until she deals in her own consciousness with the question of race.” Regarding the intersection of race and gender she continues reading, “These two mythologies become intertwined, and there is no way to free ourselves from one without dealing with the other.” Finishing the letter, she states, “You know she wrote this in 1972, and it seems like Hillary Clinton should have read her,” to a booming applause.

Davis explained that Clinton’s “very notion of shattering the glass ceiling reveals that she never attempted to incorporate the insights of intersectionality into her idea of feminism.” She compares Clinton’s unpopularity to Bernie Sanders’, whose “popularity was due precisely because he was not afraid to pose critiques of capitalism.” Her critique did not escape sanders, who she saw as “just learning how to incorporate a critique of racism into his analysis. [. . .] He should have sat down with some folks and asked for a crash course on intersectionality.”

Wrapping up, she explained her frustration at the ongoing inability to understand the true meaning of Black Lives Matter. She exclaimed that it was the most inclusive phrase there could be, for “If we reached a state where black lives did matter, it would truly mean that all lives do matter.”

To watch the entire lecture and interview: http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2016/11/21/watch-angela-daviss-entire-postelection-lecture-at-the-university-of-chicagos-rockefeller-chapel