Saturday, April 30, 2016

Why Beyonce's Lemonade is Everything



Image result for beyonce formation

G.O.A.T!  ANYTHING Beyonce releases will get major news attention. Especially when that album includes a one hour long video and dialogue that is apologetically Black, and displays tons of Black girl magic.

So it is only obvious that girls everywhere are celebrating that the Queen of Pop newest musical masterpiece released Lemonade, the visual album. So, despite the fact that the entire album was about strange stages of grief regarding a cheating husband, women everywhere felt like Lemonade was really a homage to the Black woman, and rightfully so.

Her video includes the mothers of the victims of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and Beyonce exclaiming that she "she likes her baby's hair with baby hair and afros", when her daughter has been in the spotlight since newborn days for her textured hair. Beyonce's Lemonade one hour special included women of all shapes, sizes, skin colors (African/ African American women), and it was beautiful. However, Beyonce's unapologetic Blackness seemed to offend the nation for no other reason, then that she made a remark in her song stating, "Becky with the good hair,". (haven't watched it yet, watch it here!)


Beyonce's been offending the nation since she performed at this year's SuperBowl. When Beyonce debuted her song Formation with an all Black dancing cast, exclamations of Black power, and sexy militant attire similar to a mix between the Black Panthers, Janet Jackson, and the usual Beyonce leotard, Sheriff Robert Arnold proclaimed that Beyonce was "inciting bad behavior", "endangering law enforcement", and dubbed it anti-police. The police officer remarked, “With everything that happened since the Super Bowl… that’s what I’m thinking: Here’s another target on law enforcement" It is puzzling how in the day and age, how political the Black identity is.

In Lemonade, Beyonce features quotes from Malcolm X, homage to the Black mother, and skepticism and adoration for the Black man. The location is in the swamps of the South, and alternates between both that and the ghettos in the South. There are scenes of African American culture, such as a marching band dancing through the ghettos, the mothers of those killed by police brutality holding pictures of their sons to the camera, remarks that we raise up the future generation through love. There are also scenes of Black women, in slave- like, older Southern attire working and cooking in the kitchen. By now, hopefully you have received my point; the video did not include nuances of deep Black culture, it was slathered in it, and Black social media went crazy!


 Couple of tweets to display a little bit of the appreciation surrounding Lemonade.

And of course, with mass support, there is mainstream opposition and misunderstanding!

 And here's the best response possible as to why it does not matter what Piers Morgan thinks......
And some more opposition from our favorite girl....

Yes Iggy, generalizations are bad, but if being called Becky is the worst of what you have to deal with, consider yourself privileged. -Sincerely, a Black female.
 Yes, because White privilege must be so hard.

As an African American female, I too was blessed by the Black girl magic of Lemonade. While I cannot relate to being angry because of a cheating husband, I can resonate with the images depicted in the video: Beyonce in cornrows and other Black women in their natural hair, the violence that has taken the lives of young men in my community, the sacred relationships of mother and father, and the statements she made in her Formation video and throughout Lemonade. The very fact that Beyonce displaying Blackness is considered racially charged and to make a political statement shows the necessity of the video to be made in the first place. We have not overcome the mentality that Blackness is other.  Why else would it make us uncomfortable that Beyonce is unapologetically displaying African American culture and pride.

For some odd reason, it is not as welcoming or comfortable for the Black girl to feel empowered, so certain individuals turn to playing the victim in order to get attention. Instead, others focused on the like "Becky with the good hair," as a statement against White girls, rather than recognizing it as a statement that has a historical cultural meaning in which the hair of White women is rendered beautiful in comparison to Black hair. One in which Beyonce counteracted continuously in the video by showing African American hair, untamed by social constructions of beauty, with Afros. And who is to even say that Becky was White in the first place, as Beyonce sure did not specify in her music.

Without saying a word, Beyonce has managed to provide a sense of pride and resonance for Black women everywhere, and start a critical conversation among Whites. She gracefully showed how taboo it is to be mainstream and unrepentantly Black. There aren't enough instances in our society that gives us that.

"Being a black woman is both empowering and painful, and the more art that aims to tackle the truth of our existence, as the greats — Ms. Hill, Nina Simone, India Arie — have done, the more empowered we’ll be."


Thursday, April 21, 2016

How LGBT Friendly Are Millennials?



We've got to give it up to our generation. According to Pew Research, we are confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change. It's no wonder that our generation's open to change attitude has spread to that of accepting attitudes towards LGBT individuals. While the Reagan Religious might have shunned any identity that varied from heteronormativity, millennials have seen the Supreme Court stand in support of gay marriage.Since the Supreme Court moves incrementally, and often in favor of public opinion, it must be a mere reflection of our country's changing attitudes and an avid attempt to redefine the norm. It is estimated that 73% of all millennials (those born after 1980), are in support of gay marriage. Among ages 18-29, there is 81% of support for gay marriage. And, we're not just talking about gay marriage here, 61% of all millennials say they would support comprehensive measures of nondiscrimination against all LGBT individuals. This is outstandingly supportive, considering the last three generations before us, those born between 1928-1980 show support rates between 39-59%. When analyzing these statistics, it is not out of the ordinary to assume that because of this great amount of support, millennials are much more LGBT friendly.

But I wonder how valid is this rosy picture of millennials and their changing attitudes. Humans and their attitudes are shaped by socialization, and if their parents taught them that gays are going to bring the apocalypse, some will also have that same viewpoint. We've all been in social circles in which there was an individual  (maybe a few)  who has expressed anti-LGBT views. Surely, it is not us ourselves who hold such regressive attitudes, but maybe we should not quickly dismiss such a notion. I also have a Christian friend, let's say his name is Tom, who has expressed that because America has allowed gay marriage, it can no longer be considered a Christian nation. He has not lamented whether this is a good or bad thing, but a thing that just is. However, it is problematic that ones sexual preference, according to Tom, automatically negates them from being apart of a particular faith, Christianity. I have another friend named Emma, who is not a Christian, but an atheist, who has expressed that she does not want her future children to grow up to be gay, especially her son. Emma is also a confidante to a mutual friend of ours who recently came out as bisexual to his family at the age of twenty one.  Such conversation around my own friends in one of the most progressive cities on the planet (Los Angeles), with some of the most educated pupils on the planet, got me thinking that these types of conversations might not as rare as I would hope.

In the last year alone, anti LGBT efforts have been taken among students in high schools. In Pennsylvania, students wrote anti-gay on their hands on the National Day of Silence (a day created in 2001 in which LGBT students and allies stand against anti-gay efforts and discrimination in schools). These students also placed homophobic and anti- gay slurs on students lockers on this day. In addition, just this year in February, students at a school in Southern California started an anti- gay campaign by placing crossed out rainbows on their student identification cards. It is important to note that both of these efforts against heteronormativity are from students, millennials themselves. The even greater point behind these is that students of the anti are not facing any consequences because administration at both schools support the student's right to freedom of speech in both of these accounts.

We tend to hold the perception that regressive attitudes die with generations. But, we know that when it comes to socialization, none has a greater effect on us than our parents and our peers. Is it possible that millennials are socially pressured to be or seem LGBT friendly but are as intolerant behind closed doors as the generations behind them? They say numbers don't lie, but maybe we should ponder the possibility that numbers do not always tell the full story either.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Let's End Smoking For Good, Gosh Darnit!



Senate Bill 7 might have been a great bill. In fact, it is exciting that California is making progressive efforts to diminish the health risks of smoking! There's just one caveat, raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 with Senate Bill 7, will not do much to positively contribute to those efforts.

In fact, it statistically does not make sense to do so. According to the CDC, the largest population of smokers are ages 25-64, which account for nearly 40% of all smokers. The population that legislators are directly hitting with this bill, 18-20 years of age, is not even the biggest demographic of users. This bill is another example of, it’s easy to take the rights from the young, since they’re just barely adults anyway. Of course, it is never too early for risk prevention,but if anyone thinks that raising the smoking age will have a real impact when 80% of smokers have stated they began smoking before age eighteen, one has another thing coming. 

Of course we are all aware that smoking has terrible health risks. If the D.A.R.E. program, high school health and wellness classes, college orientation and campus pamphlets, television advertisements, and anti- tobacco posters have not warned you, I do not know what will. And if it is not the smoke signals that deter you, costs can. The average pack of cigarettes in California costs $5.89. This was not meant by mistake; legislators put a tax on tobacco. These efforts alone have caused smoking to decrease by 50% in the last decade. In general, the desire for the young population to smoke has went down tremendously due to the social stigma surrounding it. Over the years, you are seeing less and less of your colleagues stepping outside for a smoke break (or many of your colleagues taking active efforts to hide all traces of their habits).

The thing is, smoking is not as cool as James Dean was anymore. Despite the fact that smoking and most of the health risks, diseases, and deaths caused by smoking is mostly a middle aged problem (40 years of age and above), legislation and advertisements attack the younger millennial for smoking, making it seem like a young man’s disease. The CDC says that the risk of experiencing diseases or health risks associated with smoking goes down by 90% if stopped before the age of 40.

 So why is there so much focus on the young? If we were really going for effectiveness when writing this legislation, we’d recognize that not allowing eighteen- twenty year olds to smoke is like telling young teenage boys with unrestricted internet access in their bedrooms not to access porn.  One, they are technically not legal to access it, but they somehow have access without paying a penny, and two, who is going to hold them accountable? 

But while Senate Bill 7 is not complete pork barrel with targeting 18-20 year olds, military personnel can still buy tobacco as they please. The legislation also calls for adding more taxes onto tobacco products, regulating vapor, and claiming e-cigarettes as tobacco products. 

If we're going to create legislation with a purpose, then we have to limit all from a common bad. What sense does it make to target the young when young smokers are the least likely to suffer health related diseases and are not even the largest population of smokers? Because it looks appealing, but will it be effective? I am not convinced. 


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sex Doesn't Exist: The Decline of Sex Education



The politics regarding sex education seem to be contradictory. Parents are gathering with legislators to take sex-ed out of schools while nationally, abstinence only programs have lost federal funding. The 80's movie cliche of the awkward condom- banana have now just become a legend of the past.

A lot of us grew up with two different examples of sex in our families. One in which our grandma got pregnant and married at 14 and the other where our grandmothers kept telling us that they were married at 25 and had never had any interest in the male persuasion beforehand because they trusted God would lead them to the right person. Our grandfathers kept silent as our mothers and grandmothers told us that were precious delicate flowers. You're not the only one if your parents didn't tell you to not have sex or if it was okay to have sex but rather mentioned there was such a thing and dangers associated with it. Maybe your parents didn't mention diddly squat because they expected that eighth grade homeroom would do the job.

But what happens when eighth grade homeroom has been replaced with "study skills" because a local city council member and a group of abstinence only parents lamented that sex education should only be taught at home? That's what happened in my hometown. In 2011, my high school underwent reconstruction of the ninth grade curriculum. Now students found an empty slot where Health used to be. This was a change after schools already changed from the curriculum from Sex Education to Health, but now students would not have either. Classes would no longer teach about sexual health. Now the students would sit in classrooms for an entire hour to do projects based on movies they watched and learn how to correctly highlight their notes for college preparedness.

I remember my sex education class. The teacher had us put questions into a jar. I remember the class laughing when my teacher pulled out a question that read, "Can you get an STD from third base?" and the surprise from more than half the class when he answered yes and explained how. Maybe it's arguable whether or not sex education was more of a laughing stock or educational, but I wonder how many people would have had to find out that STD's can be transmitted in many many ways the hard way without it. Sure it was uncomfortable, and not as effective as it could have been, but it was a lot easier to put a question into a jar, than it was to ask my mother and father these tough questions.

According to my boyfriend and best friend, sexual education happens outside of the classroom, a little more from your parents and moreso through socialization (T.V., online, porn, blogs, friends, word of mouth [no pun intended]).  Imagine how damaging this can be. A young male's only understanding of sex is from his cool friend who has "done it already," (so he must be an expert right?)

In my opinion, sex education was a necessary evil. If abstinence only campaigns do not work, and parents do not want young adults and children to have outside education about safe sex, where does one draw the line? Maybe in a world of information, it's not necessary anymore, because a quick Google search can take you to Web M.D. We don't exactly know, but one thing's for sure, just because you take Sex-ed away, doesn't mean students are not going to seek information, you might just make them more susceptible to incorrect information and discourage important discourse on the matter.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Can We Actually End Racism/ Sexism? Breaking Down Systematic Oppression


Since kindergarten, we have been conditioned to view the world in terms of character versus color. Every teacher toted Martin Luther King's iconic words on a 1980's poster, a side profile with a view of thousands of listeners. 1963's March of Washington  revolutionized the paradigm. People in the world were beginning to see that change starts with the mindset. If we think differently about people, then we will begin to treat people differently; we will begin to value others as humans as we are and obey the golden rule that God literally put in stone. We knew the world would just change and be a better place post 1963. In 1964 and 1965, the Civil and Voting Rights Acts were passed and it was the end of de jure discrimination for all in the United States; we would all now only be judged for the content of our characters, not our skin color, nation of origin, gender to name a few......if only any of those things were true.

Despite Martin Luther King's crafty phrases and powerful podium prose, the country's racial turmoil never fully ceased. In 1968's, the front runners of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. The United States government were actively seeking and killing Black Panther members in the United States. Feminism arose as women felt the need to fight for the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes. Women achieved such victories with earning the right to vote, Title IX, the creation of the EEOC, the passage of abortion access and birth control. Looking at today's political landscape, it would not be too presumptuous to say that the United States has some sort of perpetuation of these social movements. Many would consider the legislative victories to be the end of these social movements, the creation of a new era. In a world of Barack Obama, Beyonce, and Hillary Clinton, progress seems to be not only on the radar, but in practice. The country is taking more active efforts to positively perceive race with California working on an ethnic studies curriculum for secondary education, that the nation is soon to mimic.  2009's Lilly Ledbetter Act ensures the equal pay and protection of men and women in the workplace. But perhaps, there is something to be said about the resurgence of these movements. I would argue that these movements have not simply resurged, but are in fact, the status quo for systems founded on various types of subjugation.; they have and will always persist, in some manner in the United States. When we think of specific types of isms (racism, sexism) as products of a particular system, not attitudes that have caused inequality, we can greater assess the implications and implement realistic change regarding the issue itself.


In order to answer the question of whether or not inequalities are byproducts or causes of social systems, we must first assess what is considered a social movement, then we must look at the historical representations of these movements. In its basic nature, social movements are grassroots responses to a social problem. According to Britannica, a social movement is described as, “loosely organized but sustained campaign in support of a social goal, typically either the implementation or the prevention of a change in society’s structure or values.” The political science view determines a social movement a success or a failure based on its political impact. The sociological view does not necessary look at a social movement based on its impact, but its ability gather people with like-minded views on a societal problem to make collective claims. Under these two paradigms, any social movement could be a success or failure at the same exact time. Taking the definition of a social movement much further: a social movement is when a group of people fundamentally agree that there is a social problem, may or may not have different ideologies on the solution, and are making efforts to bring awareness, improve, and/ or change the conditions of the social problem against the status quo. If a group of people do this in any way, they are a social movement. Based on this definition alone, there is never a moment in which we are not within a social movement. Even the quiet sustained efforts of the oppressed are very vocal acts of resistance to the ways of being (the system). Two of the greatest examples of sustained resistance in the United States history were/ are women and African Americans. 

The most politically progressive movement in the United States is the women's movement. The women's movement most notably began in 1848 with the Seneca Falls Convention led by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Over 300 men and women met to discuss the role of self-dependence in their lives aside from the control and direction of their fathers and husbands. Early feminism was closely tied to the abolitionist and temperance movements (Rampton). Organizational efforts, such as the Women's Suffrage Parade in 1913 on the day before Woodrow Wilson's inauguration in Washington District of Columbia, brought the momentum for the passage of the nineteenth amendment that recognized the woman's right to vote. This is generally noted as the end of the first wave of feminism. It is important to add that they had a clear and specific agenda for women's suffrage and thus were able to achieve a legislative victory. However, the effort of women to achieve voting rights does not end after 1920 simply because of the amendment, this was a victory for White women. The first wave of feminism was mainly characterized (and even today is still sustained) by White middle class women. As stated in Controversy and Coalition “ to make claims on behalf of women or to resist oppression...hides the diversity...in structural position by race, class, and sexual orientation.” (Feree and Hess).

  The lack of diversity and full representation for all women in the first movement can account for the need for the second movement to address the inequality of women on a larger scale. While it is easy to fall under the temptation that there was a period of immobility between the first and second waves, 1920- 1960, this paradigm ignores the fight in between the mass mobilization for theEqual Rights Amendment. During the World War II period, many women's organizations such as the National Women's League and National Women's Party supported the passage of the ERA within the Republic party (Mansbridge). It's important to note the continuity of organizations post mass mobilizations (Taylor).  During this time period, there also were efforts by coalitions such as the ACLU, Margaret Sanger, and Estelle Griswold of Planned Parenthood to deregulate reproductive control on women's bodies (Pliley). 

 The second wave of feminism surged in the early 1960's with Betty (Friedan)'s The Feminine Mystique. Friedan's critique of the cult of domesticity resonated with the middle class women who were taught that their job was to marry and aspire to being a middle class housewife. The woman's life revolved around the satisfaction of her husband and children. This new wave critiqued the reinforcing media image of the beautiful middle class wife with pearls, perfectly groomed hair, the clean apron, cookies on the kitchen counter with milk, and smiles as she watches the children and husband off for the day as portrayed in sit-com classics Leave It To Beaver, and Father Knows Best. In its beginnings, this part of the movement primarily focused on the thoughts and experiences of middle class White women. National Organization for Women (NOW) was a political organization centralized around “bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society” (NOW Statement of Purpose). They succeeded in penetrating the political sector with the President's Commission on Women in 1963 that created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Equal Pay Act in 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The movement also failed to reflect the differences in sexuality by assuming collective based on gender. It wasn't until the 1970's, internal differences spurred the Women's Liberation Movement, which focused moreso on women of color, also referred to as third world women, differences in sexuality, agency, and economic class (Nelson) and intersectionality of identity.

 The liberal strands of the movement focused on working within the system, while the radical strand, challenged the system with notions of patriarchy and male privilege. These radical groups, such as the Redstockings, challenged gender roles as a social construction. One example of this being the No More Miss America protest in 1968. In the 1960's, young girls aspired to be Miss America. The radical groups challenged the structure of  picking a “winner” based on the objectification of the contestants. The Redstockings modeled, “the personal is political”, essentially that public forms of patriarchy were also reflected in the private lives. (Ferree and  Hess). Lesbians were having a much more difficult time in the movement and created their own subgroup known as the Lavender Menace as an opposition response to Betty Friedan's belief that lesbianism would undermine NOW. Ti Grace Atkinson remarked, “feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice.” (Echols). Still, third world women had different concerns and found it difficult to resonate with White women in the movement and often started their own organizations such as the Third World Women's Workshops and discussions on female sterilizations with Fannie Lou Hamer (Nelson). The liberal women differed greatly with the sexual liberation discussions of the radical group members under the belief that political and economic determination and desexualization will help women achieve actual freedom (Freedman).

  Essentially the radical strands of the women's movement is what characterized what is known as the third wave of feminism (that is noted to have re-surged in the late 1990's until today).  The conditions and salience of particular issues brought the radicals of the movement more momentum entering into the earlier 1990's. The fight for reproductive rights began arguably nationally since Griswold versus Connecticut in 1965 with birth control access, and more notably Roe versus Wade in 1973 which made abortion legal with constraints in the second and third trimester. The fight continued with the  Hyde Amendment in 1976 that wanted to ban federal funding for abortion, Operation Rescue in 1986, where moralists harassed and blocked abortion seeking women, Webster versus Reproductive Health Services, 1989 that allowed higher restrictions on abortion on the state level, Planned Parenthood v Casey in 1992 that allowed counseling and waiting periods to get an abortion,  FACE to reverse Operation Rescue in 1994, and Gonzalez v Carhart, 2007 that reversed the Hyde Amendment. 

Currently, the movement argues for sexual agency and calls out sexual violence through patriarchy. The movement has trnsitione to queer identities such as tissues regarding gender fluid and transgender women.The liberal strands are still active today, as unequal pay and sex discrimination in the workplace are very present. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into order because men are paid more than women. While it can be viewed that the signature of the Lily Ledbetter equates a success for the liberal strands' goals, I think the better question would be why would such legislation would be needed when the Equal Pay Act, EEOC, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act all were supposed to be responsible for tackling the social problem of unequal pay among the sexes forty five years prior. In response to patriarchy, most men believe in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes. It is natural for one to be skeptical that change can truly be implemented with politically progressive achievements. In essence, a bottom up movement inspired top down change, yet, in this cycle, we see the continuation of a particular perception of a social problem and collective claims for change by various generations of women, who are fighting for the same thing. So, despite politically progressive efforts, and victories with the passage of legislation, and still groups of women who advocate for more legislation and bring awareness to lingering inequality, how does one measure progress? If the social perception among the masses are that things are getting better, but the numbers indicate inequality among women, is there a solution to the problem of gender inequality on a system founded and maintained on gender inequality? 

Another continual movement is the Civil Rights Movement for African Americans. The movement had arose out of “ American racism and exploitation therefore generation Black protest subordination in context to Whites.” since the days of slavery (1640- 1865) (Morris). Racism can be traced back to the early sixteenth century, in which Spanish travelers justified colonialism of darker skinned individuals with the Bible. From this very instance in time, we can see systems founded on prejudice to justify systems of power. Years of tripartite, social, political, and economic domination by Whites in the South and resistance on the federal and regional levels with Brown v Board 1954, the successful ten day Baton Rouge strike to end bus segregation, and the brutal murder of Emmett Till in 1954, optimized the social conditions and political framework for palpable social resistance (Morris) for the Civil Rights Movement from 1955-1965. The first planned and successfully executed act of resistance was led Rosa Parks, who jump-started the Montgomery Bus Boycott; the boycott lasted until 1956, a little over a year, when the city of Montgomery, Alabama agreed to desegregate public transportation. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, created for regional unification in juxtaposition to the NAACP national audience, garnered national attention as the premiere civil rights group, with charismatic Martin Luther King, Jr. as ahead of the movement (Robnett). His nonviolent approach proved as nonthreatening to White liberals and allowed the Southern movement to gain national and community support, allowing a mass mobilization. Ultimately the purpose of the boycott to hurt the pocketbooks of the economy of the South to show how much Blacks were apart of Southern business (Morris).

The Civil Rights Movement operated in a such a manner that each campaign had a specific goal it meant to achieve. Some of their agenda called for desegregation, end to lynchings, and integration. Organizations within this movement such as Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, represented a more grassroots part of the organization. Between 1960 and 1961,SNCC launched a campaign to desegregate lunch counters and interstate travelingwith sit- ins and the freedom rides. With the efforts of the NAACP, SNCC, and SCLC, the Civil Rights Movement was creating all the right conditions that eventually led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 after the 1963 March on Washington put pressure on the executive, and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 after the March in Selma across the Edmund Pettus Bridge; despite mass opposition and failures such as the Albany Campaign in 1961, where Sherriff Prichett studied techniques of nonviolence to effectively combat Martin Luther King, Jr.'s efforts. During this decade of sustained campaigns, the recognition and passage of two federal laws and the 24th Constitutional amendment to ensure voting rights in mostly discriminatory states renders this decade, known as the Civil Rights era, a success in terms of social movement achievements. While many argue that this signifies the end of the most successful and lasting part of the Civil Rights movement, I argue that the Civil Rights movement has yet to end; it has just and continues to reshape itself through the radical strands of the movement.

While the Black Power Movement is often noted as a separate movement than the Civil Rights Movement, I would like to examine the Black Power Movement as the radical strand of the Civil Rights movement rather than a separate force. Both movements are connected in that they believe that the social, economic, and political conditions regarding Black lives relative to Whites are a social problem and action needs to be taken. However, proponents of the movement can better be framed in categories of liberals versus radicals, essentially those who wanted to work within the system versus those who wanted to challenge the system. The political context of the 1955-1960 decade simply were testing periods of various methods within the movement for Black insurgency (McAdam). Leaders of the Black power movement came from the activism of college campuses. During 1961-1965, internal differences began to dramatically affect the relationship between more hierarchical, church organizations such as the SCLC and NAACP, and SNCC. 

  Many SNCC members, who were originally proponents of nonviolence became aggravated with the police force who attacked their peaceful protest, and apathetic about a federal government that did its best to maintain neutrality in the face of it all. The Black radicals, those who worked to challenge the system, recognized the structural oppression as impenetrable. They used to violence of Whites during Martin Luther King's protests as evidence of a system designed to protect and isolate certain groups of people. While police officers were generally viewed as protecting the social welfare of the community, Black radicals viewed police officers, law enforcement, and government officials as those with power to work in the interest of protection of maintaining their power and the power of those who had skin like them. During this time, the United States literally declared war on Black America. Once man saw that attempting to work within the system through nonviolence was not resulting in better treatment, consideration, or change from the government, Black radicalism took rise.

Young SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael advocated for change. At the 1966 March Against Fear, in honor of James Meredith (a Black college student killed for attempting integrate into a White school),  Carmichael exclaimed, “This is the twenty-seventh time I have been arrested and I ain't going to jail no more! The only way we gonna stop them white men from whuppin' us is to take over. What we gonna start sayin' now is Black Power!” This use of language was large departure from that of the Civil Rights Movement that referred to Blacks as Negros, and made appeals to equality, desegregation, integration, and the moral conscience of America (Younge). While the not all members of the Black Power Movement were separatists, such as the Black Panthers, language was much more critical of the government and social structure of America. Some organizations expelled Whites (such as SNCC when it made the transition to Black Power), and the Black Panther Party's platform viewed the police force as a paramilitary occupying force to maintain the status quo (McAdam), and referred to them as “racist pigs” (Black Panther Party Platform)(Lusane).  The Black Power Movement followed the ideologies of Malcolm X and self- determination , that Whites had no conscience and made statements such as, “ I am not an American, I am a victim of Americanism,”.

 While the SCLC lost momentum after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, and SNCC and CORE lost power after external monetary support withdrew, the mass mobilization through sustained campaigns failed to gain momentum despite the worsening conditions and great opposition arising in the early 1970's and through the 1980's (McAdam). However, sustained efforts of Black resistance have been threaded throughout the 1980's and 1990's through the hip hop movement against police brutality and the drug epidemic. Currently, the #BlackLivesMatter movement and NAACP serve as the front running organizations for issues regarding police brutality, income inequality, education rights, and access to political participation and expression. 

We should be weary that both of these social problems are ones as old as the country in which they reside in, yet with each generation, they rise. If these movements, despite at their heights and having multiple perceived achievements, are continual threads in our society, what is the issue? Are we to say that social movements do not work, and therefore should not be apart of the society, or do we blame the structures in place that allow the perpetuation of such issues? Nonetheless, what is the solution? Maybe the historical evidence speaks for itself: there is no solution. A system founded on particular inequality will always that particular inequality as long as the power structure within the system has not changed. 

Originally posted March 16, 2016. Edited, March 24, 2016


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Simon, Scott. "Hip Hop: Today's Civil Rights Movement?". NPR.org. N.p., 2012. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
Swanson, Emily. "Poll: Don't Call Me This (Even If It's True)". The Huffington Post. N.p., 2016. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
Woodard, Komozi. "Rethinking The Black Power Movement". Exhibitions.nypl.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
Younge, Gary. 'The Misremembering Of ‘I Have A Dream’'.Thenation.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 14 Mar. 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

You Are Not The Only One With Lack of Clear Knowledge About What the Heck A Primary or Caucus Is

 A friend of mine and I sat down for Cherry Blossom coffee during Spring Break a few years back, when as former political science students, our conversation began to gravitate towards politics. We discussed the results of the caucuses and the primaries, some of the pitfalls of the electoral college, and the importance of the rise of the anti- establishment. 


Despite the mass of eloquent statements from two political science students who have been taught too much academic jargon, one thing became quite clear I asked my friend, "what is the point of the caucus?", that both of us, politically conscious millennials and young professionals, did not know what the importance of a caucus was, or how to fully explain the importance of the primary without a Google search. Another quick Google search will show that those of previous generations chalk the lack of voting by millennials up to apathy, disengagement. I would argue the sheer lack of understanding the political process is the greater issue. 


"Lower youth turnout is not a sign of a broad malaise. Millennials are about as interested in politics as youth in prior generations, and about as politically active outside elections....If we look at the full range of political activity, millennials are good democratic citizens — at least as much as their elders were in their youth."

Why millennials are politically active but do not vote is quite simple. Maybe it's not the fault of our government and civics teachers. After all, we may have had a chapter about the primary and the caucus (if that), but what's to speak of the political science students at a top university, who had little to say? It's a common conception that millennials don't vote where it counts. They don't show up for general election nearly as much as they post they do on Twitter.  One would think there are only few millennials in the entire world if you look to the turnout of the caucuses and the primaries (let's forget about local/ state elections) . So, instead of keeping ignorance as a reality, let's break it down: 


  1. Both the caucus and the primary are methods of the electoral process used to nominate a candidate for president. 
  2. While it seems that the caucus leads to the primary season, they are essentially one in the same. States can choose whether they will use a caucus or a primary. 
  3. Caucuses are local gatherings with open voting systems, where generally only registered members of a party can attend and vote for a candidate (if closed). At a caucus, the validity of the candidate is debated. Interest groups can dominate the presence of a caucus since the voting is open. 
  4. A primary, depending on the state, can be closed, meaning only members of the party vote for a candidate for nomination, or open to all residents of the state.  At a primary, the voting is election style, with closed and private ballots. 
  5. States do not have both a caucus and a primary. Each state selects which one they want. 
  6. The only states that have the caucus over the primary system are: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Wyoming and Iowa. (they're the weirdos). 
  7. Each state used to follow the caucus system and transitioned in the twentieth century to primary to allow a more democratic process.
  8. Essentially, both the caucus and the primary are collecting delegates for nomination of a candidate for president. The primary and caucus system is how we, as a country, decide who are final two candidates for president will be. 


Now that you know, why is this important:

In an election where it seems like 99% of millennials are feeling the Bern and not feeling Mr. Trump, it does not make sense that Senator Sanders is losing and Mr. Trump is winning for either of their respective sides. 

When speaking with a friend and I asked him if he was going to vote in the California primary, he responded, "I''ll just vote in the general election. It's all rigged anyway, who's going to get the nomination," In calmed frustration, I had to explain, this is where it all changes. It may seem as though year after year, the elections never have candidates that garnered the widespread support, but we could possibly have Bernie Sanders, John Kashich or Marco Rubio if millennials understood that political power lies in the nomination stage, not only when it's down to the final two and the general election. 

Elections are like getting sick. You have two options after the very first tickle in your throat. You can say, "I'm getting sick! It's inevitable!" and never understand why you are getting sick or how you could prevent it; or you can down vitamin C tablets, start washing your hands more often, get proper sleep, drink water until your stomach is about the explode, and avoid getting a sore throat for the third time this semester. This method may not stop you from getting sick every time, but if everyone had this mentality, there would be less sick people in the world. Like an election, you can complain that whatever happens happens, no matter your involvement and always be disappointed by the outcome, or you can get involved early, get others involved earlier, and possibly change the outcome. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

We Don't Understand How Donald Trump Got This Far

 Courtesy of Global Search Trends

I don't understand. I haven't met a single individual who publicly admits that they want Donald Trump to win the presidency or even win the nomination. Members of the Republican Party have even admitted that they would rather support Clinton over Trump. A fact checker for the Washington Post
 “Once again, we are confronted with a nonsense figure from the mouth of Donald Trump. He is either claiming to save four times the entire cost of the Medicare prescription drug system — or he is claiming to make prescription drugs free for every American. Neither is possible.” Mr. Kessler gives Mr. Trump “four Pinocchios,” his highest rating for not being truthful." 

According to polls, his public support is around 49% among Republicans (51% are just supporting others who aren't Trump). I guess when you consider the qualities that he has that makes him likable (needing an anti-establishment figure), he is a necessary evil in deciding who will be pivotal in the election, but it doesn't make much sense that Trump is the leading candidate for the Republican side (Democrats are still arguing about who has more valuable political experience: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders).

Four years ago, the country pleaded there's no place for business in politics (doesn't make sense if you really understand the current political process). Mitt Romney was one of prime examples of the idea of the unworthy, dishonest businessman. What has changed now? 

Americans are extremely dissatisfied with the system. People are irritated, we're in a moment of social movement (gay marriage, #BlackLivesMatter,third-wave of feminism, free the nipple campaigns) people don't want the status quo. But how does that mean Donald Trump is the answer? It doesn't, people are stupid. Well no, people aren't stupid, but people don't understand politics. Should we vote or consider a candidate because we agree with his anger, but we have no gauging point as to whether he is an effective legislator. 

What is the role of the president of the United States? Should the president be the voice of the people? Should the president be solely responsible for foreign affairs and let Congress handle the rest? Should the president be good at business affairs first an foremost? Because the better the standard of living, the happier and healthier the citizens are.

With every other candidate, people have asked the question. Donald Trump has the dirtiest track record of all the candidates with business dishonesty and endless ad-hominem attacks. 

Who knows, but the White House might become the Trump Tower in the near future, ruining the dreams of other hopeful Americans hoping to either Feel the Bern, gush over Marco Rubio, ignore Ted Cruz, or experience the Clinton Machine. 

But please, can the Trump supporters stand up? No one in America knows who you are.