Assuming the wrong and believing it to be right

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I was looking at a YouTube music video that my friend told me about.
The title of the song is Breezeblocks by Alt-j. The link to the video is below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVeMiVU77wo
When I was watching the video, I realized the story that was being told in the music video was played backwards. And with the lyrics that go

She may contain the urge to run away
But hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocks
Cetirizine your fever's gripped me again
Never kisses--all you ever send are full stops, la, la, la
...
She bruises, coughs, she splutters pistol shots
Hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocks
She's morphine, queen of my vaccine
My love, my love, love, love, la, la, la

I imagined the man to be a demonic person since the video started off with him crushing a girl and killing her in a bathtub. I thought I got the message and was about to exit the tab when curiosity took hold of me. In the music video, although we see that eventually the girl who was killed got restored back to life since the video is in reverse, I also saw a woman tied and locked up in a closet in the beginning. And with the wedding rings that the woman and the man both had, they were married couple. So, I explored the meaning of the song a little and found a video of the music video played forwards. The link to the video is below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiVS5l0FuHA
And here, it's clear now that the man comes home and finds that his wife had been tied up in a closet and a mad woman tries to kill him with a knife. So, in retaliation, he fights back and ends up killing her by crushing her with a breezeblock.
I found it interesting how seeing only one side of the situation and not the other can skew and mess up the true situation and the actual circumstance that's happening. Had I not seen the forwarded version of the video, I would've never thought of the man as being a bit close to be justified. So, this song uses the video and tactful use of lyrics to convey an important issue that's facing new generations of young people globally about believing something only after looking at it from one point of view. This applies to so many aspects of lives of young generations. It can be applied to group bullying where a group of people just assume something about another person doing something wrong after judging the situation from a skewed point of view. And so, this might eventually end up ruining an innocent person's life by poor judgement.
So, I guess this video gives out a message to the young generation that better judgement is needed to for a wise move and skewed viewpoint can ruin the entire picture of what is really going on.

Who watches the watchmen?

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There are times when I feel overwhelmed by the seemingly unsolvable problems amongst the people on our planet. Poverty, discrimination and persecution of the 'other,' lack of access to clean drinking water or adequate medical care, depletion of earth's natural resources, global warming and the growing disparity between 'haves' and 'have-nots' are all issues that are attributable to human greed and hunger for power.

Governments and corporations worldwide are in active pursuit of mass amounts of wealth, often at the cost of human lives and the health of the planet. The temporary accumulation of riches has been worth the long-term sustainability of the human race and the globe on which we live. This has been true since the beginning of civilization, and we, as people, have responded to this corruption in a variety of ways.

I found a video by Daniel Cohn at TEDx at Columbia University, in which he speaks to how we have responded to government corruption throughout time. From ancient Roman poets to modern-day rappers in France, Senegal and West Africa, those who are oppressed have used the power of language to combat the forces of greed in our government.

Cohn explains that governments recognize the power of performers, and have tried to endorse artists with messages that promote their agenda, while trying to quell the voices of those who raise dissent against authority. He juxtaposes ancient Romans Horace and Juvenal, and speaks about French state-endorsed rapper Abdul al Malik and El General, who helped usher in Arab Spring in 2012.

Hip hop music can help raise the level of discourse and dissent against corruption by continuing to be accessible to the masses of people who might otherwise be disengaged from their country's political landscape.

The video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV8gML6DIiI

F*** the Police. (sometimes.)

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There are so many issues facing us today, it's really hard to pick the most pressing. Something that has been bothering me lately is the inability of people to acknowledge their own racist attitudes.
To elaborate: last night my girlfriend came home upset from school, as a discussion led by her Police in the Community instructor had turned sour. Her teacher was adamant that "sagging your pants, listening to rap music" and various other traits were tell-tale signs of being a "suspicious" person. It doesn't take a genius to put 2 and 2 together--these "signs" are ways that we stereotype people who are black. The conversation was dominated by many other (white) students who confirmed his "looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's a fucking duck" theory. As one of the few POC in the room, my girlfriend was appalled that a college professor would not only allow such behavior, but also be promoting it.
I am in no way anti-cop, but I am anti-BAD cop. I think that aspiring police officers should be required to have an extensive amount of classes to educate them further on racial insensitivity, women's issues, GLBT issues, and the importance of checking their own privilege. Police brutality and racial profiling are common themes in hip hop and rap, and it's no surprise why. These are real things that happen every day, yet privileged white middle-class college professors are dismissing these ideas and encouraging racist attitudes that perpetuate systematic racism.

Sexual objectification of/violence towards women

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In my opinion, one of the biggest problems facing youth and new generations today is the way that society views and treats women. For hundreds of years, women have been oppressed and made to feel inferior to men. They have faced oppression in just about every level possible- whether it has to do with clothing choice, social norms, rights, work, etc; women have always struggled to have a voice in the way that they are treated.

The history shows that from about 1850 to 1920, women fought for their rights- hard. This time, knows as the Women's Rights Movement, was meant to bring equality between men and women in society. Unfortunately, as we all know, this did not happen. There were two huge steps made by women by 1920: these were an increase labor conditions and wages, as well as gaining of the right to vote. Now, in assuming that these were the only two inequalities between men and women, one would also assume that after this time, men and women have been treated equally, right? Absolutely not.

Taking a look at today's culture, women are more objectified than ever before. They are quite literally picked apart in every form of media and used as sexual objects to sell things, make money off of, and ultimately, bring pleasure to the male gaze. Much like we have talked about with the idea of racism; despite there being laws and policies in place to protect women, they still experience covert discrimination and objectification (covert meaning that the topic is taboo in our culture).

One of the biggest sources, in my opinion, of objectification for women, is mainstream pop culture, specifically in the musical realm. Now, romance and male/female interaction have always been main topics for songs. In fact, songs have included sexual references for a long time. The problem with today's music is that it focuses on the sexual exploitation of women as well as violence towards women. I've included songs and lyrics below for examples:

Bitches Aint Shit -Dr. Dre

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKWpQDBvBbM&feature=kp

Highlighting the following lyrics:

"Bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks
Lick on these nuts and suck the dick
Gets the fuck out after you're done"

"Cause a ho's a trick
We don't love them tricks (Snoop: Why?)
Cause a trick's a bitch
And my dick's constantly in her mouth
And turning them trick-ass hoes the fuck out now"

The Whisper Song -Ying Yang Twinz

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX3dXiS3mtw&feature=kp

Highlighting the following lyrics:

"You heard what I said, we need to make our way to the bed
And you can start usin' yo head
You like to fuck, have yo legs open all in da butt
Do it up slappin ass cuz the sex gets rough"

"Ay bitch! wait til you see my dick
Wait til you see my dick
Ay bitch! wait til you see my dick
Imma beat dat pussy up"

"Walk around the club with yo thumb in ya mouth
Put my dick in, take your thumb out
There might be a lil kosher to deal with
Wet fat hoe's they dont spill shit"

Both songs talk about using women for sex and reference being violent towards them. They treat women like they are literally only useful as sexual objects for their own pleasure. Also, referencing every woman as "bitch" degrades women immensely. Along with explicit lyrics, music videos objectify women by forcing them to be scantily clad and to dance in sexual ways. The following videos are good examples of these:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG8o_9RliwU&index=5&list=PLxQEEay69oXLXFp1QLCv0AKMc-0isNPKq

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vb2mnDp68S0&list=PLxQEEay69oXLXFp1QLCv0AKMc-0isNPKq

The problem is that, in this outright exploitation of women and objectification of women's bodies, we are only perpetuating violence against women. We're creating and perpetuating a rape culture. Women are becoming further and further disrespected in our culture.


Money, Cars and Clothes

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I believe the biggest concern with youth in hip-hop today is accumulating money, cars and clothes. Unfortunately this obsession is swallowing mainstream rap as we know it. I notice when I listen to any rap radio station it's mostly rappers speaking about how much money they have and why that gives them rights to as many women as they want. Sending this message to youth is detrimental because this is how only a small percent of the population live. The kids that are listening to these lyrics and watching these videos don't realize that that boat they're rapping about is rented and so is the jewelry and the women. Sometimes I think we obsess so much over what is going to sell we lose sight of ourselves and the social message that rap used to come with.

Injustice Towards Women

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Having just written a paper on a similar topic, I think one of the biggest issues facing new generations of young people globally is violence and injustice towards the female gender. I understand we've progressed far since the women's rights movement and on paper, it sounds like women have gotten close to the same rewards and rights as their male counterparts. However, off paper, violence towards women hasn't stopped. To start with, genital mutilation is still largely happening in the middle east (Wright, Pink Hijab), sex slavery still exists with women being the product and males (pimps) being the sellers. And the biggest issue in my opinion is the violence in regular life. Several women have gotten assaulted or even molested in my short time of one year studying at the University, and the issue keeps reoccurring. Being a female myself, I still ask myself every time I enter a parking garage at night if the footsteps behind me are harmless or not. I still have to carry pepper spray when I'm in the bad part of town and it's dark, and the worst part is that I know the pepper spray might actually be used against me. It doesn't help that I'm also petite and would most likely stand no chance against someone who was set on attacking me.

Thus, while I don't enjoy relying on men, that's what I have to do when I have to go somewhere late at night. To me, that is not women's rights progressing. In fact, an entire gender being an easy target for someone who is restless and hungry after dark is a very good example of the opposite, and having to rely on the male gender for safety makes us dependent on them. The following song is, in my eyes, a perfect example of a story of this situation. The song is called Dance with the Devil by Immortal Technique, and I'm sure some of you have heard of it. It is about a man who is trying to join a gang and has to do some gruesome things in order for them to initiate him, one of those things being to brutally assault a woman. Once you hear the song if you haven't already, it mainly speaks for itself, and the descriptions as well as the bloody reveal at the end are vivid and gruesome. I also think this is a good one to discuss in class.
Here's the link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8yKTuvRmPE

Technology Takeover

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I think that although it is a blessing, technology is also a curse. There are always pros and cons about everything, but I think that an important issue facing new generations of young people is over-dependence on technology. Infants are now learning to scroll through an iPhone before they learn to crawl. Younger generations, including ours, are CONSTANTLY using our phones, tablets, laptops, and TVs. It is common to see students in universities browsing the web or checking on their social media accounts in class in stead of listening to the professors lecture. However, our generation grew up with VCR's and CD players. We spend the majority of our childhood playing outside and constantly using our imaginations to entertain ourselves. Now, young children entertain themselves by playing video games, watching TV, and using their iPhones and tablets. For example, the family I babysit. It is a family of three kids, the older two kids, ages 8 and 6 each have their own iPad, iPod, and when I babysit them, they choose to sit in front of the TV and watch their TV shows. This can have a very negative correlation with developmental skills. Kids are now so comfortable entertaining themselves with just a technological device that when put into social situations they don't know how to act and are socially awkward. Majority of youth rely on text messaging as a form of communication, and feel uncomfortable speaking in person or over the phone. The reliance on technology can also cause health issues such as loss of vision (from constantly staring at a screen) and obesity. Kids don't play outside and get daily exercise anymore, they sit on their couches or in their bedrooms with no physical activity.

Many artists, not all Hip Hop, have focused some of their music on the increase of technology. 50 Cent and Justin Timberlake in "Ayo Technology", "Internet Connection" by M.I.A. "Get off the Internet" by Le Tigre, and my example, "Lol:Smiley Face" by Trey Songz, Soulja Boy, and Gucci Mane.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSMEVuRjz-I

This song, although not that serious, demonstrates the miscommunication that can occur in text messaging. Facial expressions and tone are the main indicators of how an individual is feeling. Over technology, these indicators are unknown and affect how the conversation is interpreted. Technology is also frustrating because it is constantly being used. When spending time with family or friends, eating dinner, or watching a movie, technology often interrupts and can cause tension because it makes the time spent together less intimate. I do think technology has its benefits, it's highly useful, but I think that generations of young people need to focus on maintaining personal relationships, as well as not becoming completely dependent on technology, and lastly on balancing the use of technology and their other daily activities.

Sexual and Reproductive Health

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I am a nursing student, so naturally, the first thing that came to mind when I read the prompt for this assignment was obesity. Unfortunately, that it not a topic that many artist, throughout all genres, are concerned about. I then came to sexual and reproductive health. In 2011, a total of 329,797 babies were born to women between the ages of 15-19 years, in the United States alone (CDC, 2014). Initiatives supporting the dissemination of information regarding Sexual and Reproductive health led by the World Health Organization on a global scale, and non-profit organizations such as Planned Parenthood, on a local level have significantly decreased the number of unplanned teenage pregnancies in the last couple years, but it is still an issue that is of concern since there is often social and cultural taboos about speaking about sexual intimacy with adolescents that creates huge barriers. Fortunately, for the same reasons that created the barriers, there is a huge push by artists and organizations to provide adolescents of all backgrounds with knowledge about safe sex and the outcomes of unplanned teen pregnancy.

As I searched through my iTunes library and online for Hip Hop songs that addressed teen pregnancy, I came across multiple examples, but the one that stuck out most to me was "Retrospect For Life" by Common, featuring Lauryn Hill. After viewing the video the first time, I was conflicted on whether or not I would use the video because it seemed to have Pro-Life undertones which caused internal conflict because I personally support Pro-Choice. After watching the video for a second time, I decided to go with it because I realized that there were less Pro-Life undertones and more Pro-Make informed decisions about having sex before you become another unplanned pregnancy statistic. What I enjoyed even more about the video and the lyrics is that it is from the perspective of the male partner which is a side we do not hear to often (for varying reasons). As Common rapped through the decisions that were made and his actions that led to the decisions made by his partner, he shinned light on the "not my body, not my problem" role that some young men fall victim to and also shed light on how destructive and un-supportive that attitude can be. I believe that this is a video that global youth can learn from due to it's blunt portrayal of a situation that many adolescents find themselves a part of and addresses the internal questions or dilemmas that arise since adolescents are commonly in the Identity vs. Role Confusion developmental stage and often tend to only think of themselves or the bad things others will say about them.

View the video by visiting this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lqvu-9pM_xw

These are my personal opinions and in no way, shape, or form, have any affiliation to organizations or companies that I may be involved with.

acceptance

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One problem that I know many youth have faced, along with myself, is being accepted by their peers, family, and even themselves for their sexual orientation. No matter what they identify as, there will always be one person who refuses to agree that it is natural and will give them hell. Personally I didn't accept myself when I had my first suspicions. I was raised in a religious home, where I was taught it was unnatural. I'm sure there are others in the same boat, some who had it worse, or even a few who were not afraid of the world and didn't keep themselves hidden.
Now I know the video I'm going to add may be predictable, but it is a link for Macklemore's "same love". Quite honestly, the video brings me to tears every time I watch it. I fought against myself for 6 years until I finally was able to come to terms with who I am. And it took a year after that for me to tell my parents. I know I'm not alone. I know there are others dealing with this problem just like I did, and still am.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlVBg7_08n0

Social Equality

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I believe the world is still not where it needs to be in terms of social equality and how people of different backgrounds are treated. Whether it be because of their race, sexual orientation, age, gender, disabilities, or religious beliefs; people all over the world are still seeing and participating in discrimination. We all coexist on this earth and not one of us is any better than the other, so this age old idea of superior races or genders or religions or what have you needs to be dropped. We have come so far and learned so much since that time in history when this all came about, so why are people still stuck in that mindset when we clearly can see how wrong they were?

I found a video by Youssoupha called L'Enfer C'est Les Autres which means "hell is other people" and I think it fits this topic very well. In this song it says that people speak of unity but behind closed doors they act differently. There is an interlude where one man asks "what is your definition of intolerance?" and another man responds, "it is the denial of the freedom of others , that is to say their right to exist differently." A third man then says, "It is very simple : it is a disease of the difference. We go from indifference to opposition , and then after we go to exclusion." There are people in this world that create a hell on earth for certain people that are different and it cannot continue. Other people should not be able to cause such unjust and undeserved suffering just because they don't agree with or accept a certain kind of person.

L'enfer c'est les autres.jpg

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xo8ac2_youssoupha-l-enfer-c-est-les-autres_news

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