Monday, April 22, 2013

Last Talking Point (11)--Teen Voices--Reflection

I found videos that feature teens talking back in various ways. The videos I'll be presenting aren't all as explicit as the first (which will directly tackle a mediated image and the structure that created it) but I believe that all of the videos I will be including we have moments of fugitivity, moments in which these voices are challenging the dominant paradigm in various ways.

The first is a piece called "Nicki Minaj" also known as "The Mis-Education of Barbie" by Jasmine Mans (something that makes viewing/comprehension easier is to keep in mind that the parts that seem out of place, like the "It's me","Give it up" and "I annihilated every rap bitch in the building" etc etc are lines of Minaj's interjected into the poem. Mans is about 20 in this video, and given the way in which youth is a cultural construction we know that the age included is not fixable and nowadays people are considered a part of the "teen" community well past the age that stops using teen as a suffix.

Some amazing moments
"don't let the industry rape the Assata out of you"
"do you know what this media is trying to do to you? Look in the mirror, they will porcelain (barbie) doll the shit  out of you. Leave you noose-necked hanging from Zion. They will Lauryn Hill you, the mis-education of a Barbie doll coming soon. I just had an epiphany (Barbie) I think NYC is making you forget you come from queens"

I select the first quote because it's just so straight-forwardly powerful. For those who don't know, Assata Shakur is a revolutionary. She's currently living her life in Cuba after being targeted by the US government because of her affiliation with Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army. Assata is a strong and powerful revolutionary woman. She's a role model for many. I believe the Mans is pointing out that we, as women-identified-folk all have the potentiality for revolutionary womanhood (I specify because of the examples given. That is not to say that Mans would argue against the idea that we all have the potential for revolutionary person-hood, but the poem and the examples are very much woman/girl role model/images/representation oriented). By name-checking Assata she is being resistant; Assata is a name we aren't taught in most schools for a reason (and if we are taught about her she is presented as some sort of social problem instead of the true revolutionary figure that she is). In that same line Mans indicts the industry, and thus the structure the industry represented and the ideology it is putting forward (because we know, thanks to Croteau, that the media has the ability to act as a medium for dominant ideologies/paradigms)

The second quote I chose partly because I think it highlights the way in which media matters and the way in which media can be incredibly powerful.

The above is from Brave New Voices, a youth poetry competition/show. Unfortunately I don't know the names of the two boys but the girl is Alysia Harris.

The poem is called "Sean Bell" and is about the killing of Sean Bell by police officers. By recognizing this form of Black death and anti-Blackness and indicting the police state these poets are being subversive to the dominant paradigm. If we are to believe that Whiteness is a dominant ideology then centering Blackness and calling out anti-Black gratuitous violence is an act of resistance. We aren't taught to think of the Police State as "hunters of humans", but one could argue that that is precisely what the Police State is (and at this time I would like the point out that this is a discussion of POLICE on a macro level. We aren't discussing individuals but a SYSTEM).

These folk are giving a voice to a situation that has none. Sure, Sean Bell took over the media landscape for a moment, but for many he is but a memory. Much like Oscar Grant. Much like Trayvon will be in a few years (although, it would appear he is simply a memory now for many people). Much like the countless 'nameless' people gunned down and executed in the same fashion whom we will never know about. They are giving voice to a problem in our system.

The 4 girls who lost their life in the 16 Street Baptist Church Bombing
Comments (no questions today): And on the note of giving voices I'd like to end with another Jasmine Mans piece. This is a persona poem from the POV of one of the girls who lost their life in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in
Birmingham. This young girl lost her life because the dominant ideologies of white supremacy and anti-Blackness. Giving a voice to the voiceless is an act of resistance. Questioning the things that Mans questions is an act of resistance, it's not allowing the history fed to us by the media and by history texts to be the one history in our minds. Want to be resistant? Question everything. Always look critically. That is something that we could definitely take from the Croteau text and we should be leaving this class with.

Thanks for reading. It's been swell

(If any of the videos don't play please right click and just watch the videos on Youtube. They are too powerful, significant, and important to ignore)


  1. Fantastic post, Andrea. You really blew me away. I love the way your first quote alludes to Assata, because it certainly is true that she is not someone most people would hear about (especially in our current education system). The examples you use certainly display acts of resistance and fights against dominant ideology. Very powerful. Well done! :)

  2. First off I want to say that I love Jasmane Mans and Alysia Harris...I have been to a few of there strivers row shows which every show was a great experience!! If u have not gone to see them I encourage u to go ahead and see them. these three recordings of spoken word are so deep and have powerful messages. I'm glad you posted these, it is a great representation of teens taking a stand.

  3. i like all the videos that you posted up, i never seen or heard of these people before until now, they talk about alot of serious stuff. the black death and anti-blackness

  4. you know I love poetry girl dont even do this to me I have watched all of these! and that Nicki Minaj one couldnt be more accurate! love ya!