Thursday, May 26, 2011

Girl Power, Beyoncé and Me

I am all about "Girl Power". In the late 90s while I was growing up the Spice Girls burst on the scene and while I was not quite yet in the place I am today developmentally I was all about it. There was no substance. I was also not that into them. I was more into TV...as I got older and began to grow into the man I am today I'm still into girl power though it's not about pop music and peace signs, nor 5 archetypes or platforms (though I would still like a pair). Why is this relevant?

My friend Danielle Patrick shared a video on Facebook. It was by Amber AKA NineteenPercent which discussed the new Beyoncé song Run the World (Girls). The video discusses Amber's problems with the song in that girls do not run the world. Women are oppressed around the world and while have made an improvement are not equal to men in most of the world. She goes on to discuss facts about the song and ties it to feminism. [Feminism means many things to many people. To me at its most basic level feminism is the knowledge that sexism as an institution exists and the desire to see it eradicated.]

Feministing, which was mentioned in Amber's video, posted a response that also discussed the new Beyoncé song but also discussed questions of feminism.
 She is a product of a system that exploits women for capital gain and frankly in the face of that has done amazing, brilliant things, but that doesn’t change the system.
Beyoncé is not perfect and is making an effort to make a change for girls and young women which is not up for anyone to decide if it's enough or not. While I would love to see everyone working to see sexism as an institution as well as racism (and the other -isms) destroyed I cannot expect everyone to take that on or be able to. As a recording artist there are many people who tell you what you can and cannot produce so we do not know what Beyoncé wants to say and can't or how she sees this in a feminist discussion or a race discussion.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

ALANA Speech [Extended Cut]

The following is an extended version of the speech I gave at the ALANA ceremony at UB. It was an honor to give the speech and I want to share it with all of you as I think you will all enjoy it.

            Good Morning SUNY Trustee Lewin, Council Member Hoeflich (hay-flick), Council Member O’Brien, Vice President Black, Pastor Pridgen, Dr. Moore, and all the Distinguished Platform Party Members. Good morning to our loved ones here today,
            College seems to have flown by. I don't know about you but it seems like yesterday I was roaming the halls of my high school. Looking a bit further back I remember 8th grade graduation. Why? Good question. I was one of the smart kids just like you all, smart enough to get into UB. After the diplomas, the smiles and the photos were taken it was time to leave. That's when it happened. My friend was Hispanic like me and her mother told me something that stuck with me. She said, "tu subiste la raza p'arriba!"
A. I didn't know Spanish all like that and B. it must be good because my parents smiled. I asked my mother what she said. “You brought the race up”. You brought the race up. I brought the race up? I suppose I did, a bit, but why is this anecdote, personal memory important to all of us? Because today ustedes subieron la raza p'arriba también. Yes we all brought the race. I'm not just talking to my Latino/Hispanic friends. I'm talking to all of us here today. We worked our butts off through undergrad, and now we are beacons of hope for our communities. Edward James Olmos said, “Education is the vaccine for violence.” As we return to our communities or venture on to new ones we have the chance to help share this ‘vaccine’ with others.