Friday, June 4, 2010

Media Produces Knowledge

Cross posted from my Media Justice Column

The past few months and weeks have been an incredibly busy time around social justice issues in the US and abroad. Sometimes when multiple topics are occurring it's difficult to get a good grasp of what is going on without being distracted, at least that’s how I feel about current events at times! One of the ways I've come to love learning and staying on top of current events are through “traditional” and “non-traditional” media makers.

One of the many issues that has been on my radar for several months: SB1070, the Arizona law that has legalized racial profiling and violates our 4th Amendment rights. I believe that regardless of where you stand on the topic of immigration reform in the US, there is absolutely NO reason for us to give up our constitutional rights. Often, people don't realize how we give up our rights on a daily basis because we don’t know what our rights are to begin with!

One of the first pieces of media that I came across was The Pinky Show regarding Immigration in an episode called "How To Solve Illegal Immigration." The Pinky Show website states that they:

The Pinky Show is the original super lo-tech hand-drawn educational TV show. We focus on information & ideas that have been misrepresented, suppressed, ignored, or otherwise excluded from mainstream discussion. Pinky presents and analyzes the material in an informal, easy-to-understand way, with helpful illustrations that she draws herself. Episodes are available on the internet for free at

That sounds like my kind of show! Plus I find the imagery (although not always the language and vernacular used) extremely accessible. As a child of immigrants, I’m not a fan of the term “illegal,” but as an educator I am a fan of the approach. The gender non-conforming names of the characters, the youth-friendly symbols and imagery, and how humor is used. Check out the video, it’s about 15 minutes long.

Shortly after seeing The Pinky Show, a friend posted a video by rapper Talib Kweli of a new single he released regarding Arizona. This is not the first time that the Hip-Hop community has created media and messaging about what Arizona has done. In 1991 Public Enemy created the song "By The Time I Get To Arizona" when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday was not celebrated in Arizona. Kweli's song "Paper's Please" samples the Public Enemy song and I love when he says “Stopping you in the streets, demanding identification. If you of the brown persuasion, maybe you could be native, maybe you Mexican, it’s whatever you not Caucasian so you have no place in this country. Illegal immigration got them scared of losing their faith, they fearing assimilation. Give us your tired and your poor and your huddled masses, we’ll be havin’em serving another master homeless and under passes.” (thanks to my homeboy Hugo for helping with the lyrics) Have a listen:

Then, Shakira was interviewed by Ryan Seacrest for his site and radio show. He asks her why she is going to speak to the Mayor of Arizona regarding SB1070. Shakira has an eloquent statement regarding her motivations and convictions, which as a child of immigrants to the US, I find interesting. Shakira acknowledges that she was not born in the US and does not live in the US (full-time) but recognizes that "nobody should be detained in the streets become of the color of their skin." Hear her interview below:

Then there is still oil being pumped into the Gulf Coast and I just can’t take it! I’m the type of person that can’t stand when people litter (yes I live in NYC), but it's one of the biggest pet peeves and turn-offs to have someone I know or am interested in getting to know litter. So when the oil spill occurred I have yet to really be able to stomach a long conversation or look at many images because it really does frustrate me in ways I have yet to learn how to cope with. However, a new collaboration between several musicians, Mos Def, Lenny Kravitz, the Preservation Hall Band, Trombone Shorty, and Tim Robbins is basically giving me life right now. The song "It Ain’t My Fault" was created for Gulf Aid to help people affected by the oil spill and the video states:

"It Ain't My Fault" benefits Gulf Aid, a nonprofit created in response to the oil spill off the Louisiana Coast. Check out the video above and if you're interested in donating to the cause, please visit

Check out the video below:

Personally, I love it when the media I’m constantly interacting with keeps me up to date on current events, especially ones that are frightening and frustrating. Are there other forms of media you have come into contact with over the past several weeks that help?

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