“This is about the time, when I start talking about politics, that the internet trolls tell me to stick to my day job–so I’d like to talk about my day job. My day job is as the chairman and the co-founder of Thorn. We build software to fight human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.” said Ashton Kutcher to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Feb. 15th.
We know him as Kelso on That 70’s Show, or maybe as the host of Punk’d. We do not question his authority on stoner comedy or celebrity pranks. So why, when we discover that Kutcher also plays a leading role in combating human trafficking, do we ask that he stick to boob jokes and prank calls? Why should celebrities have a say in issues other than new fashion trends and diet fads?
We consume more media every day than we may even be aware of. Some days, college students hear more from the stars of their favorite Netflix show than they do from their parents. Celebrities tell us what lipstick to buy or what shoes to wear. Their songs affect our mood and their social media posts affect our timelines. Prominent figures have voices of varying influence in the lives of thousands, and in some cases millions of people. Now, with so many issues coming to national attention as we combat an oppressive White House administration, those voices can change the way we think about social justice and equality.
In February 2016, Tomi Lahren emerged as a well-known conservative figure when she critiqued Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime show, saying that the use of Black Panther imagery in Beyonce’s performance of “Formation” was “not about equality, [but] about ram-rodding an aggressive agenda down our throats and using fame and entertainment value to do so.” Lahren is not necessarily wrong; Beyonce did wisely use her own staggering fame and new catchy tune to spread a message. From Lahren’s perspective, that message had no appeal. Lahren has never been a woman of color in a white man’s world. Yet to the young black girls who grew up in a country that treated them as a second thought, Beyonce’s message of black female power was encouraging. With this performance, Beyonce told women of color that they are worthy, strong, and absolutely unstoppable. Beyonce realized the platform she had, and used it to empower black women on a national level. All while working her “day job”.
A celebrity is, by definition, someone who is widely known. What they do with that influence is up to them. Some shy away from the responsibilities of having an amplified voice in a rebellious society. Yet others understand that it is a part of their “day job” to influence the consumers of media. We are all have different parts to play in today’s tumultuous political landscape. What if those cast in the starring roles didn’t deliver the lines needed to resolve the conflict? How would we ever be able to understand the perspectives of others and work towards a resolution?
As I bounce back from Spring Break and try to readjust to campus life and responsibility, my mind keeps wandering back to easier times- my week-long adventure in Cancun. Six of my friends and I spent five days enjoying the beaches and day parties in Mexico without a care in the world…somewhat. There’s always a wall up as a young woman in a foreign country where there is a language barrier. You hear stories about careless college kids being snatched up in their drunken states never to be seen again. But we were confident that as long as we were careful and smart, we wouldn’t join the list of those missing. And yes, all seven of us made it back to the States in one piece. I’m grateful for these results, but there is one aspect that keeps creeping up in my mind: the sexualization.Continue reading My Blackness is Not a Fetish→
This year, February has been completely and entirely lit. With everything going on in the world, there is nothing to do but celebrate completely unapologetic blackness. With that being said, some amazing, insightful, hilarious articles have been written in honor of black history month, and while the month in coming to a close, these articles remind you to celebrate blackness every day of the year.Continue reading 5 Think Pieces to Celebrate Black History→
Beyoncé. Also known as Queen Bey. The singing sensation that has slayed the lives of girls, boys, men, and women all over the world. Beyoncé has been in the limelight snatching our edges relentlessly for years. We know every word to every song and religiously attempt to learn the dances she is know to kill. However, there has recently been a lot of blow back on Beyoncé. Her new instant hit, Formation, has caused an uproar among may white people. I have two things to say to the people that are protesting Bey’s new song. First, this song is NOT for you. Second, this song is the last thing that needs to be protested right now.Continue reading Formation: Explicit (Racial) Content→
Music is everywhere. We pop in our earphones on the way to class. We jam in the shower. We watch awards shows dedicated solely to music yet there is so much about the industry we don’t know or fail to recognize. We notice gender struggles in the workplace, schools, government but do we see it in our music? Are we aware of the troubling ratio of male producers to their female counterparts? Do we understand the struggles female artists must face? Do we even care? Is it relevant if it’s not right in our faces?Continue reading Gender in Music→
Friday afternoon, I read extremely upsetting news that singer-songwriter Kesha would be required to record six more albums with Sony and Dr. Luke- her producer that both drugged her and raped her on numerous occasions in the past. This is coming from the verdict ofNew York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich who said, “You’re asking the court to decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry.”Continue reading Kesha’s Nightmare is a Reality for Many→
Taylor Swift is a lot of things. She is a talented musician. She is, evidently, a terrific negotiator. She is brave for being able to perform in front of thousands of audiences regularly. She is also a feminist, but not MY feminist. Continue reading Taylor Swift: Not My Feminist→
So anyone who knows me knows how much I love spoken word. I’m in EROT (Ebony Reader Onyx Theater), UNC’s premiere spoken word performance group. We are based in social justice- most of our pieces have ties to current issues whether it be race, gender, or the like. The written word is such a powerful tool to convey messages that can be difficult to understand in plain conversation. Here are five of my absolute favorite spoken word pieces shedding light on important issues:
“Flawless” by Simmons College
First of all, this piece is about my personal hero, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. But it’s not just about B, it’s about feminism and how it doesn’t always come in the form of protesting, but sometimes in simply doing what you want and not apologizing for it! Continue reading Top 5 Social Justice Spoken Word Pieces→
As Halloween creeps closer, so does the pressure to discover the perfect costume. Halloween offers us a moment to become
something we want to be, something we aren’t, something we fear, or something we love — an exciting way to change our identity for just one night. Yet, beyond the skeletons and zombies, Halloween reveals a darker side of who we are and the hurtful views we may hold. Too easily, this celebration becomes an opportunity for unchallenged ignorance — coming from the same place that tricks us to believe that “it was just a joke” is any justification to attack the dignity of another human being. Continue reading Not Your Costume→
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