What is political?

Last week in class, we talked extensively about the motivations of the Blues singers we had read about. Did they intend their songs to be political statements, or were they just singing about the way they saw their lives? Does one of those preclude the others? And does the original intent matter if those processing and consuming whatever is produced take it to be political? If those songs motivated women to leave their abusive partners, to stand up for themselves, then maybe they were political. That class was one week ago, but I still don’t feel like I have any definite answers. It has, however, really made me think about our own version political activism today.

The big news item last week was Kony 2012/Invisible Children. On Facebook and Tumblr, my two primary social media sites, people were reposting and liking the videos and people’s comments. It really made me think. Is this what my peers and I consider to be political? Does simply passing information around the internet actually have any measurable impact? Perhaps, if doing so inspires someone to actually take more action, like the songs of Ma Rainey or Bessie Smith might have done, there is some good to it. But really, all I can think about is this meme that I saw floating around Facebook. 

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One thought on “What is political?

  1. Music can certainly be a form of social protest. Most mainstream newspapers refused to run stories about the lynching of African Americans during the first half of the 20th century. But, singer Billie Holiday used “Strange Fruit” written by songwriter Abel Meeropol, as a way to keep this atrocity in the public eye. African Americans used a wide variety of methods of protest. Powerless people use many forms of protest to confront the powerful.

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