Tag Archives: America

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Why I Started an Internet Radio Station (and How it Could Shape a Better America)

I promise you, this title isn’t just clickbait. I really did start an internet radio station, and I really believe it can help make things better in these (barely) United States of America. But to explain how and why, I need to start at the beginning.

 


 

First, for about as long as I could remember listening to music, I wanted to have a career in radio. I have vivid memories of being a kid and huddling up at night with a blanket and a handheld transistor radio, listening to the radio at night. It wasn’t just the music itself — although the music was definitely a huge part of it — but it was also hearing the voices of the DJs as they called out the songs and spoke to callers and whatnot. It was like I felt like by listening in, I was included in their informal gathering, getting invited into a party that I could attend anytime I was feeling lonely or like an outcast. Listening to the radio became an important coping mechanism, and when you’re nine years old and you’ve just moved to a new city, you need as many healthy ways to cope as possible.

As I grew older and moved through middle school and then high school, I continued to appreciate the way that local radio stations helped to define the shared language and culture of my generation. The songs, the stories, the slang, it was all tied to what radio station you listened to. And because I grew up in a city with a smaller black population, the radio helped me learn how to code switch. When I was with my white friends from school, it was all Z100. With my black friends, it was 1480 KBMS. The music and culture gave me a shared experience with which I could, through the awkward fits and starts of adolescence, find ways to fit in.

For a time, this worked really well. But I ran into problems when it came to expressing my faith.

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Black Panther, Blackest Movie Ever, Is Ironically Quite Conservative

One of the great ironies surrounding the phenomenon of Marvel’s latest cultural behemoth Black Panther is that a lot of Bible-believing, white evangelicals would really love it, if not for the fact that its name is remarkably similar to the revolutionary socialist political party of the 1970s.

(I’m guessing the Wikipedia Black Panther disambiguation page is getting a pretty good workout right about now.)

I’m serious. If it weren’t called Black Panther, if it was called T’Challa’s Triumph or Game of Thrones: Wakanda or something similar, even more white people would love it than already do.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, this movie is a huge freaking deal for a black people, and our people are seeing it in droves, but African-Americans cannot solely account for its record-setting box office numbers. White people are supporting this movie, if for no other reason than it’s the next hit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Even Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, after screening it for the first time, told director Ryan Coogler, “that’s the best movie we’ve ever made.”

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How to Move Forward and Fight Better Political Battles (Starting Right Now)

Last night, I posted the following status update to my Facebook account:

 

Wait, there’s been reports of racial harassment to people of color from Trump supporters? Well, we shouldn’t be surprised.

I mean, when white Republicans send candidates to the White House, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending a candidate with supporters that have lots of problems. They’re bringing crime, and they’re racists, and some of them, I assume, are good people.

 

It was my tongue-in-cheek way of trying to get conservative Republicans who feel defensive about accusations of racism to see how it feels to be targeted rhetorically, and then to remind them that guess what? Your choice for president said this, and much more.

But satire is always a risky proposition when it comes to making a point, and most of the time it ends up serving as a way to signal congratulations from people who already agree with you. Last night’s post was no exception. A bunch of my Facebook friends who knew what I meant, laughed. (One friend said she laughed so hard, she ran out of capital letters. “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahahaha,” That cracked me up.)

On the other hand, a few of them responded somberly, aghast at the ideological divide that this election has revealed. They wanted to stick up for people they know who voted for Trump who they feel are good people who agonized over a difficult choice and just made it differently than I did.

I get that.

I still think they’re wrong for choosing Trump, but I get it.

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If You Still Haven’t Heard Hamilton Yet, We Might Not Be Friends Anymore

I wasn’t going to blog about it, but seeing the White House recently host a live performance by the Hamilton cast, I decided this couldn’t wait any further. But I want to be clear about something from the outset. This is not a post to convince you of how great Hamilton is and why you need to see or hear it.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly want more people to know about it, but if after reading this you decide to listen to the official cast recording, I claim no responsibility for the ensuing addiction that will follow.

On the contrary, this post is simply about what a profound effect Hamilton has had on me, and why. It’s about how Hamilton relates to what’s going on with me in my life (plenty of big changes!) and what’s going in America in general (also, plenty of big changes!). There are lessons to be learned that go way beyond the aesthetic pleasure of enjoying good music and watching a compelling stage performance. Indeed, I suspect that what makes Hamilton resonate so deeply inside me and so many others is its incredible sense of timeliness. It is, to crib a line from the Dark Knight trilogy, not the play that America deserves, but the play America needs, and needs greatly.

But alas, I’m getting ahead of myself.

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You Done Messed Up, A-A-Merica

Right now, Christena Cleveland and Keegan-Michael Key are two of my favorite people in the world. Though they operate in different disciplines and run in very different circles, they are both excellent at what they do. And I often find myself highlighting their work on social media.

christena clevelandChristena Cleveland, a social psychologist with a focus on overcoming racial and cultural divisions between groups, blogged recently about a phenomenon she refers to as the white male industrial complex. Adapted from an Emily Rice quote about the “ally industrial complex,” it’s her term for the ways in which Christian social justice work, like everything else in American society, tends to be oriented around the tastes, whims, and emotional climate of white men. (More on this later.)

Keegan-Michael Key is the taller, lighter-skinned half of Key & Peele, the incredibly funny sketch comedy duo on Comedy Central. And his brilliant comedy chops are the key to this, one of their most popular, sidesplitting sketches, entitled “Substitute Teacher.”

Behold…

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This Song Is What’s Right With America

(Editor’s Note: with all the talk about the polarizing SCOTUS ruling on Hobby Lobby and birth control, I thought it might be good to talk about something that brings people together.)

 

So I’ve thought a lot about it, and I’ve decided that this song by bluegrass hip-hop band Gangstagrass, is more than just a fun, infectious tune. It is the antonym of the common hyperbolic lament about our fair nation; “All For One” is, for once, what’s right with America.

Read no further before watching and listening:

The only way this song could be more thoroughly American would be a cameo appearance by a flag-draped America Ferrera.