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I just read through Hufpo's articles on Gates-gate and noted the cognitive dissonance the country has around race matters - we assume we agree on basic facts, and it is clear that such an agreement does not exist.
Well, my fellow YP4 fellows, I've been doing a lot of experience/searching/thinking about which types of activism I am best suited for.
Armed with underwear and ramen noodles the youth of America are set to overthrow the failed system! They will wait no longer, they will sit no more and they will apathetically listen to no one but Barack Obama anymore. Young people are fed up, that is for certain, but to what extent and will their record numbers in the polls really revolutionize American political life?
I had the pleasure of attending this year's Center for American Progress' Campus Progress national conference in DC and was struck by what was said during a particular session on Hip Hop. As the front of the room filled with other conference participants, I could hear the buzz of individual conversations about the diversity in the room. The panel included Jeff Johnson (moderator), artist M-1, Billy Wimsatt and Angela Woodson. I've admired these Progressive leaders for years and waited with anticipation for the session ahead.
When you begin to recognize your personal ability and resolve to make a difference incredible things happen. There is no doubt in my mind that whether you are a budding activist, a student beginning to learn more than you thought, a traveler meeting harsh new realities, or a weathered volunteer (worker - maybe you get paid to do this) in the progressive movement - your ability to truly impact the course of history is locked in this self-actualization of the power you hold, which is your ability to influence someone else's life. Influencing just one person is important, but that one person is part of a larger global community and they can then influence another person, and the chain will continue. Power is most often alluded to fall into the hands of the politically and economicly wealthy, those who exploit, manipulate, and profit from others, those who sit in the plush offices and government buildings. This I say is not fact. However, one may argue, these people do hold the power - they do make the decisions and they do shape our lives. While this remains a fair argument there still remains nothing more powerful than a person with a passion. No official, no government, no financial powerhouse, no one can stop that person from influencing others except by way of death. So I say give me passion, give me freedom, give me liberty or give me death (paraphrase: Patrick Henry).
The 2008 YP4 Summit was amazing! I had a lot of time to reflect on everything that I had the opportunity to observe and experience. One of the first impactful events at the summit for me was the Power Shuffle exercise. Here was MY reaction:
Courtney Martin has recently noted that there is no shortage of activism of college campuses. However, according to Martin ("The Problem With Youth Activism," American Prospect, November 19), much student activism is ineffective because students have been pacified by what she calls the institutionalization of student activities and activism. In defense of student activists, Tim Fernholz ("The Kids Are Alright, Campus Progress, November, 27) argues that Martin is wrong and that her basic premise is indicative of a failure to understand politics. Fernholz goes on to argue that today's college activists are smarter then those of the 60s because they are willing to work within the system instead of engaging in protest, boycotts, and civil disobedience. Both Fernholz and Martin make some valid points. Yet neither mentions power in any regard. My aim is to make their conversation more complex by discussing how power impacts student activism.
This fifth element of my debate on language comes as we see Imus booted for his racist comments and as I recently viewed a youtube video of Frank Zappa defending the right to say what you want.
I have argued for learning more than one language and not restricting the official language of the US. I have discussed the true political correctness and how using language should only be restricted when it is used as hate. I have covered ebonics and what is percieved as 'standard' english. I then explored the ideas of anonymity and apathy and their impact on the credibility of language.
The deep root and anchor of language lies in its power, language has an immense degree of power. With that power comes a great responsibility.
Religion, invoking the powers of god, speaking from the lord's book - all these things have a great power and importance to a large number of people, but why? As I traveled this past week (spring break) through the states from Michigan to Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Florida and back I really noticed the prevalence of religion along the highway and in the South.