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Black Privilege Poetry Slam

Black Privilege

Spoken word artist Crystal Valentine performs a very emotionally charged poem titled “Black Privilege” in a poetry slam competition. One of the most moving lines in her poem tackled the issue of police brutality against black men, and the scourge of gun violence taking way too many young promising lives in urban communities. She says “Black privilege is me having already memorized my nephew’s eulogy, my brother’s eulogy, my father’s eulogy, my unconceived child’s eulogy. Black privilege is me thinking my sister’s name is safe from that list.” Valentine is one of six performing poets who represented NYU at the poetry slam this year. Her team ended up winning which was no surprise to anyone who listened to her performance.

Ms Valentine makes me proud to be part of a resilient culture who takes oppression and intolerance and turns it into extraordinary talent and beautiful artistry. If you’re not moved by her amazing 3 minute video clip, you should contact a doctor immediately because something is seriously wrong with you. She poured her heart out on that stage layering vulnerability on top of confidence on top of self critical introspection. There aren’t many people who can touch your soul with just a few words. That’s power. That’s talent. That’s the power of blackness.

Chicken & Why You Don’t Matter

Chicken & Why You Don't Matter

PBS’s news magazine Frontline did a report on dangerous pathogens found in chicken sold by one specific company. The chicken made a lot of people sick and some even died. The shocking part of this story is the company knew their chicken was tainted and even knew it was making people sick but did nothing to address the problem and continued to sell the tainted chicken to consumers. The federal entity who’s supposed to enforce strict regulations to protect consumers from hazards like this also knew about the company’s tainted chicken but did nothing to protect consumers, and did not push for a recall. It’s a very interesting piece that I think holds meaning that goes way beyond just chicken.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/trouble-with-chicken/
To me this is just another reminder that corporations run our government now. It’s totally mind-boggling to me that American’s were scared out of their minds about Ebola and right before the midterm election a majority of voters listed Ebola as one of the most important issues that concerned them enough to come out and vote. If I recall the poll correctly, voters said the second most important issue was Benghazi. People are getting sick and dying because of tainted chicken and the company selling this chicken continued to sell it even though they knew there was a problem. I guess they figured it was much cheaper to buy politicians and political influence than it was to recall the chicken to protect the consumer. Adding insult to injury the government agency who are supposed to regulate and protect the citizens against this kind of malfeasance were also aware that a potentially deadly pathogen was in a consumer product yet they did almost nothing to hold the company responsible and did nothing to alert or protect the citizens who pay their salaries.

Situations like this reinforce my belief that Citizens United was one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in my lifetime. That law pretty much guarantees that the citizens of this country and the politicians we put in office are completely powerless against the will of the 1% and the corporations they own. The media both progressive leaning and conservative tells the country what issues they should care about, and how to think about the issues they chose to report. Ebola got wall-to-wall 24 hour news coverage on every cable news network for 3 weeks straight. There were only 2 deaths from Ebola in the US, and neither of the people who died contracted the disease here in America. There have been 6 or 7 investigations into Benghazi so far and all of them concluded the same thing. There was no conspiracy in which the president and the secretary of state colluded to make sure American’s in the consulate died. But somehow voters named both of those issues (Benghazi and Ebola) as the two issues that were most important to them.

I place a lot of blame for this on the media. I find it very curious that campaign finance reform and overturning the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United almost never gets discussed on network news. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the enormous spike in ad buys that brought them unprecedented profits and revenue during the last presidential election where candidates on both sides spent over a billion dollars each to fund their bid for president. It’s very plain to see that Citizens United worked out very well for all of the news networks. Why would they want to stop the gravy train? This kind of thing breeds voter apathy and political cynicism. Unfortunately the voter apathy they cultivate works in their favor as well. The less engaged you are and the less you believe in the system they know people like that are less likely to vote. The lower voter participation gets, the more power they have.

I wish I had a simple solution to fix all of this but I don’t, but something has to change. We can’t claim to be the land of the free and the home of the brave when public opinion shows that an overwhelming majority of citizens wants to raise the minimum wage and overturn Citizens United, but corporations and the 1% are against both of these things so it will never even get a vote despite the will of the people. After Benghazi and Bridgegate fizzles out, they’ll throw us another meaningless distraction and a large majority of us will eat it up just like we’ve been conditioned to. Now isn’t that sad?

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