Senator Kamala Harris & Cardi B Using Their Voices for Social Justice Like Two Sides of Dr King’s Dream

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Social Impact

It’s an important day in the life of America when people reflect on the social impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s national holiday sheds light on the words and wisdom from his work. For many there’re moments that stand out among a catalog of quotes, like the timeless four words of “I Have a Dream.”

This year the holiday is also when Senator Kamala Harris decided to make an announcement using four words when she tweeted “I’m Running for President!” During her appearance on ABCs Good Morning America, Harris added a personal view in saying she’s doing it for the people because “I love my country.”

Those words might easily connect with folks who think about the love King had for the people. That’s also where Cardi B comes in with her take on what’s happening with the Government shutdown. Cardi’s colorful view which went viral might also be summarized in four words; “this mess is whack.”

Harris and Cardi B are using their voices for social justice like two sides of Dr. King’s dream. Harris brings her immigrant heritage from India and Jamaica, while Cardi B’s hometown heritage is from the Bronx. Harris went from Attorney to Prosecutor to Senator while Cardi B went from the streets to major beats.

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There’re things from King that might inform Cardi B (and us) on how we take social action. There’re things from King that can inform Harris on her political aspirations. King knew our walk might take different paths but our work should help with economic, social and neighborhood-rising issues in these ways:

  1. Scholar
  2. Activist
  3. Griot
  4. Empowerer (or Empower-her)

Before Dr. King became a national-figure he spent time becoming a trained scholar. Not everybody will choose the path of getting a degree in philosophy but most of us can study a subject enough to get a Ph.D. in lifer-education. This way we’re not becoming ‘dumb and dumber’ but instead mover and shaker.

As King traveled the country he saw more examples of what kept America stuck in the racism quicksand. This led him to becoming more of an activist. An activist is to social change as a catalyst is to a chemical reaction. Sometimes sparks fly, but after a while, things change from the current state to a new normal.

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These days we’re reminded not to mess with ‘girls from the Bronx.’ That’s how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez put it after a political commentator choose to come-at Cardi B. Cortez took us back to earlier pop culture griots named the Sugar Hill Gang, as musicians, poets and storytellers who maintain an oral tradition.

There’s a feeling in social and political circles that a new kind of candidate needs to arise for the 2020 Presidential elections. We can’t continue on the current path where the leader acts like an emperor. We need to look to those who’ll be more of an empowerer of the community or an empower-her of the nation.

All it takes is four words to get our social-justice juices flowing. Harris made her presidential bid with the words “I love my country.” Cardi B shared her concerns with “this mess is whack.” Four words describing Dr. King as scholar, activist, griot and empowerer might help us to keep runnin’. Just think about the ‘what ifs’ and where we’d be without his ‘love for the people.’

Tracks: India Arie – What If  – https://youtu.be/Ae-i31wWxEo

Naughty Boy ft Beyoncé, Arrow Benjamin – Runnin’ – https://youtu.be/eJSik6ejkr0

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Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone Has Some Pondering Women’s History in Reverse #HometownChat

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Trivia: Which recording artist has been battling with her producer over future projects? (Answer below)

The back-and-forth between Hollywood and others has taken a new turn. First it was #OscarsSoWhite where black actors were left out of the running. Now it’s real talk from folks in the clubs, blocks & streets of #NotBlackEnough. With Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone some are pondering women’s history in reverse.

The original Writer/Director Cynthia Mort told Entertainment Weekly “There are very different visions of what the movie could have been and should have been…” Considering we’re in Women’s History Month, some have come out strongly against the casting of Saldana while others want to give the film a chance.

It’s possible the mixed feelings say something about how people interpret Simone’s life and legacy. It might even help explain the reactions people have about Saldana’s casting and how they interpret America’s history. It’s a question of whose version do they understand, want to believe in or rely on.

Whether in the current political climate or in matters of social justice they’re those who tend to see the history of America only in the eyes of prejudice. But learning from game changers of our past, in forging American history it’s important to see purpose too. Saldana might have taken the role based on this view.

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Simone’s music and impact were like the flipside to James Brown. She is described on her website’s official bio as a lyrical interpreter. A few of her favorite hits were remakes of prior written/recorded tracks of other well-known artists. They included Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday and Tina Turner.

It’s usually done with creative add-ons as artists do covers and actors do physical makeovers for a role. Recently, the artist Joe did his own take on Adele’s Hello. We’ve seen Robin Williams play Mrs. Doubtfire and Tyler Perry play Madea. Maybe Saldana saw this as a way to go deeper in her body of work.

A Simone bio quote says “…to make people feel on a deep level, it’s difficult to describe because it’s not something you can analyze; to get near what it’s about, you have to play it. And when you’ve caught it, when you’ve got the audience hooked, you always know because it’s like electricity hanging in the air.”

Is it that sort of vision that drew Saldana to the movie? It’s true for social change projects that make us feel a new sense of electricity in America. The current view is that things have gotten better over time. But there’s still a level of cultural uneasiness and displeasure that’s hard to explain/analyze as ‘strange fruit.’

Answer: Kesha

Groove-tracks: Jill Scott – Strange Fruit – https://youtu.be/OkXAxpzE6Gk?t=85s

 

Prince  – Baltimore –  https://youtu.be/Gx2PCJaisqc?t=50s