Political Perspective: Who is Je’Leese?
29 August 2016
I think where you grow up is just as important as who raised you. It’s not a nature vs. nurture scenario, but rather parents vs. peers. Psychologist discuss how it isn’t necessarily who raises you nor are we inherently one type of way — if we were all inherently born a certain way mentally or emotionally we wouldn’t have groups of people yelling, crying, and fighting for their rights due to being marginalized — but rather it’s where you grew up and who you grew up around. I was raised in the heart of the Bay Area, or in the well said words of E-40, “YAY AREA!” Where I grew up has shaped me so much. Growing up in cities like Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco etc, you are able to experience different cultures, activities, people and ways of life.
At at the wise and mature age of 11, I introduced my family to an array of foods, music, art, and opinions that they themselves never thought to indulge in or debate. Actually just this month during the Olympics, my mom didn’t even know that Kazakhstan was a country. Unlike the rest of my family, I spent most of my time in Berkeley; a city of tolerance, peace, love, and a lot of illegal weed smoking. Obviously I only participated in the first three activities, but you can probably see where I’m going with this. Most of what makes me me, and my opinions on politics was created while in Berkeley. So I guess I’m one of those SJW that a lot of people don’t like. But I digress. Of course there are many things that make me and my opinions the way they are but let’s start with music.
Ahhh music. I first must talk about my boy Kendrick Lamar. Songs like “Institutionalized”, “Money Trees” and “good kid” really speaks to me. He speaks about classism, racism, black-on-black crime, and touches on the “why’s” of social issues. The steady, yet pumpin’ beat, with a hint of jazz and old school hip hop just makes the lyrics that more powerful. If only his albums dropped 20 years earlier, I could see it being the soundtrack to the movie, Do the Right Thing, by Spike Lee. I’m tired of rap songs just about getting girls (they use other words), making money, and smoking or popping drugs. Kendrick is real and doesn’t rap just about the seemingly fun things fame has to offer, but about what his life used to be like and the ugly experiences he’s had involving his rap career. I’m tired of hearing the young men I’ve grown up around and see growing only aspiring to be athletes or rapper because it’s all they think they can do. Another artist who has made music that I find refreshing and eye opening is Macklemore. His song, “White Privilege” is in my opinion amazing. Not only does his own lyrical talent show through his writing and execution but he is one of VERY FEW white artists to dedicate an entire song addressing racism. He writes:
You’ve exploited and stolen the music, the moment
The magic, the passion, the fashion, you toy with
The culture was never yours to make better
You’re Miley, you’re Elvis, you’re Iggy Azalea
Fake and so plastic, you’ve heisted the magic.
He discusses cultural appropriation and calls out well-liked deceased and current musicians.
Within the same category as music, I must talk about poetry. This is one of, if not the most important thing that has helped shaped my views on practically any oppressive system from ableism to sexism. Staceyann Chin is one of my favorite poets. Her writing is raw, aggressive and critical of our government, society and its commonly acceptance of, or blind eye to, rape culture. Aligned with that and my views on women’s rights, another wonderful woman who wrote a poem that managed to correspond to what I’ve been feeling years before actually reading the poem, is June Jordan and her poem, “Poem About My Rights”. It’s really interesting how there are so many facets that make up discrimination. From age, to skin, to gender etc. Everything that makes us us is on a list of things someone somewhere doesn’t like. I believe in “educate, don’t hate”, “enlighten, not frighten”. I like listening to peoples opinions even if they don’t support my own beliefs because I think everyone’s voice is valid and when you know the critiques of your own argument and beliefs and can understand an opposing POV, you are able to make your argument stronger.
How does growing up in Berkeley, listening to Kendrick or Macklemore, and listening/writing poetry shape who I am politically? Each of these things has made me aware or buttressed my already forming conclusions into understandable words. I believe in equality/equity for all those innocently marginalized. I live by the words, “You are only as strong as your weakest link”. If our weakest links are those in need and hurting whether it be needing government financial assistance or helping people from other countries find refuge and a safer life here, we should do it. Similar to how I first put myself in my opposer’s shoes when debating a topic like for example Kanye vs. Taylor, same should be done with topics like immigration, sexual orientation, racism, religion, and the 2016 presidential election. Make america great AGAIN?
“Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)” — Langston Hughes 1935
Nuff said. Langston Hughes was way before his time just sayin’.