Why it is still a lie

Today as I rolled out of bed, I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to wear. I had picked it out the night before. I looked in the mirror saw my white skin and straightened my brown hair. I was not threatened with death, my color did not incite hate.

Because I live in a bubble where I do not experience racism, it is easy to think everything is honky dorky. My life rolls on and I strive for feminist thoughts as I drink my coffee and head to class. Rhetoric becomes my shield and logic my armor.

But this is not the case for my black friends. They are not given the respect in the classroom let alone the public sphere. The lie that I believe is broken. When a professor tells my friend to “Speak on behalf of all blacks” racism is not dead but alive and breathing. When social media breeds texts and tweets containing the ‘N’ word and threats of death, racism is alive.

Can we kill it in one fell swoop? Will one demonstration fix us? Fix the hate? No.

We must stand each day and scream that inequality is real. We must listen to lived experiences. We must listen to loss. We must listen to success. No one conversation will change the world. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stand for what is right. I agree with the protests. I agree with those who call out racism. Voices need to be heard. Shout. Scream. Break down the oppressive rhetoric. Break down the illogical logic.

It is a lie if you believe that our country is equal. The lie destroys lives and breeds hate.

Let us live in the truth. The most beautiful, ugly, truth. Let us stand for freedom. Let us stand for justice

Why “Wildest Dreams” Shouldn’t be your only Dream

A few days back, Taylor Swift released her music video for “Wildest Dreams”. This video shows a love story between two movie stars, Taylor playing the female lead. Now this video and the song are a speaking about having love in the moment. The couple kisses sweetly, passionately and then the video ends with both of them seemingly longing for another kiss. Nothing about the video seems amiss on the surface. Just a simple romantic story told through Taylor’s song with a romantic video.

But we must take a closer look.

This music video is showing the production of a movie shot in somewhere Africa. It contains a white only cast in late 19th century clothing. One can only surmise that the directors are making a reference to the movies made at that time. If you are unfamiliar with the time period and the nature of these movies, then you might miss the undertones of the imagery used. The movies produced in different parts of Africa during the colonial oppression where highly racist and sexist and completely misrepresented people living on the continent of Africa. They featured a strong white male protagonist who would have to fight the ‘savages’ or the natives of the land. On the way, he would rescue a white damsel in distress and together they would brave the ‘wild’ world called Africa.

Whether or not the video production team realized the implications of the imagery, they are there nonetheless. This video is not merely a sweet romance story, but a continuation of the misrepresentation of Africa that we have seen over the centuries. As stated before, everyone in the video is white. There is literally no representation of someone who actually lived in Africa. Secondly, we see a generalization of the African continent. Although pertaining to the story, only shots of animals that live in the savanna areas were shown. This romantic notion of ‘wild’ Africa perpetuates incorrect assumptions that western peoples have about Africa.

Africa is an entire continent with thousands of different cultures, even more languages and even more traditions and lifestyles. Why don’t we give the African continent the respect it deserves and show some DIVERSITY.

For me, the fact that this imagery is the background to a love story further emphasizes the romantic view people can have of the past. Colonial movies were not romantic. They were oppressive propaganda that affected a whole cultural perspective. Wild animals are not just beautiful scenery. They are part of the ecosystem were fellow humans live.

Some people may argue that I should not be so critical of just one music video. That there is plenty of stuff on the media that misrepresents something even worse. I concur that the media always seems to perpetuate stereotypes but this should not be a pass for the media to never be criticized. I believe that if media is going to be changed people have to start calling out the things that are perpetuating misconceptions.  I believe that every person has the responsibility to make steps toward ending historical misconceptions.Taylor Swift and her production team are no exception. Anytime someone contributes to the media it is their duty to understand the meaning and associations behind their content.

That age old saying of “Everybody’s a critique” can sometimes be said negatively. Honestly, I think it is not only a positive thing but a necessary step in combating misconceptions and oppression.

Smashed Walls

As I see those news reports and online videos, I cringe. Anger boils up inside of me. All I want to do is smash glass bottles and punch through walls. How dare those people treat young black women this way? How dare they use their power to abuse the system. I want to walk across the broken glass bottles till my feet are torn and bleeding. Brutalized, like how all those boys, men, women and girls have been treated. I want to walk through their clean, white, suburban houses with a baseball bat and smash down all their walls. The walls that confine their ways thought. The walls that do not see color. The walls of thought that keep racism alive. I want to take racism by the throat and dig my finger nails into their flesh. “You have no place here.” I whisper vehemently. Then, with a strong arm, I throw racism out. I banish them. I turn back around and see people trying to re-build their racist houses. They try to piece their logic back together with cynicism and pity. They struggle to re-build much of anything. I look at them in disgust for defending their racist homes. How dare you defend a abuser of power. How dare you dismiss pain and hurt. How dare you put back on your glasses of blindness. All I want to do is smash glass bottles and punch through walls but I find that it is exhausting and my eyes can hardly stay open. I fall fast asleep much to my demise.