Justice for Mike Brown: disrupting the symphony

Beautiful music.  A moment of public dialogue interjected into a space for beautiful music.   I don’t know how I missed this  St. Louis symphony showdown.

Elizabeth Vega on the conception of the symphony as a protest space.   Daily KOS reports:

Elizabeth: Two weeks ago, Sarah and I participated in a direct action at Cardinal Stadium. We did a series of banner drops at a baseball game with folks. We are both middle aged I am a grandmother and I am brown and Sarah is white. People were incredibly rude and racist to us at the game. They booed us. Told us “Pants up dont loot” etc.. They clearly saw what they wanted to see. We were escorted out in handcuffs and chanted “No justice! No Peace!” It was a rough night where we didnt feel any love. Sarah suggested that night, jokingly, that perhaps we needed another venue. The next day she said she wanted to do an action at the symphony. I was on board and immediately brought on Derek. When we found out the next performance was a requiem we had to do it.  It took us about two weeks among planning other actions and events for the national mobilization. We are all very busy but carved out about five hours total to recruit, plan and organize.

via Requiem for Mike Brown protest at St. Louis Symphony exposes both white privilege and support.

Thanks to feministing for the suggestion, link and video.

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Van Halen & rape culture: Jamie’s Crying

This morning I decided to burn a CD of the first Van Halen studio album.  As I arrived at work, I was deep in a lyrical analysis of “Jamie’s Crying”.

In addition to being the sixth or seventh best song on the record, it is also a funky track about consent.  Sung from the perspective of a young woman who said no to a ‘one night stand,’ and is now sad that the only romance her prospective lover wants is quick sex.  (Hence, why she is cryin’).

It seems like an interesting take on consent.  In this case, the lover pressures Jamie and Jamie refuses.  I appreciate that the pressuring lover simply ups and leaves when “Jamie wouldn’t say alright.” But the prevailing message of the song is that if someone doesn’t sleep with the band, they’ll never get any other interaction (‘gone forever.’).   A sort of nod to consent in a forward motion toward rape culture.

Cue Van Halen groupie reel.

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Limitations of solidarity: Vanderbilt rape

A few months ago I wrote about two tactics of solidarity with a survivor of sexual assault.

I’m looking at some recent press and it turns out that neither was all that effective and may not be very survivor-centered.

Survivor-centered means that the focus of analysis and decision-making reflects the desires of the survivor.  It is an ethical lens that is valuable in fighting against rape culture.

In the case of the fraternity rape of a Vanderbilt student who reported the incident.  I had previously appreciated that the editor of the newspaper had held accountable the fraternity message board which encouraged retaliation against the survivor, calling her the “girl who ratted.”

Well that hasn’t stopped the survivor from experiencing a lot of harassment.  Here in an interview she makes evident the retaliation she has received.

S: I’ve been approached by people I’ve never met before a number of times and verbally harassed. People have threatened to testify against me and say that I am crazy. I’ve also been approached a number of times in social settings and been yelled at and even booed by multiple people. Things that people have said to me were: ‘you suck,’ ‘we had so many parties planned that we can’t have now because of you,’ ‘do you really think that’s a reason to fuck over a whole fraternity,’ ‘you’re ruining all of their senior years.’ I’ve been called ugly, a slut, and a liar by people I’ve never met. They claimed to make sure every fraternity ‘blacklisted me and all of my friends.’ I was asked to leave a different fraternity and I’ve been labeled as a risk by some others.

I’d like to immediately clarify that these are the actions of individuals and I do not believe they reflect the fraternity or Greek Life as a whole. This is just my response to those who claim that I have not been retaliated against. These individual actions together comprise a larger, unacceptable culture that needs to change.I am also incredibly impressed by the kindness of others who haven’t been afraid to stand behind me.

Also, many are trying to discredit the incident because I had consumed alcohol. But if girls can’t walk into a fraternity after drinking without the fear of being sexually assaulted, that’s an issue. Alcohol does not excuse sexual assault, which is stated in Vanderbilt’s sexual misconduct policy.

via Interview with the girl that ratted – The Vanderbilt Hustler: Safety.

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Stevie Wonder: Talk Box studies 103

Stevie Wonder on the David Frost show extending the notions of human expression.  I’m gonna see if I can make the ending note of this song my cell phone ringtone.

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Prince 101: Let’s Work

[I've tried to load a live clip from Prince in the early 80s doing "let's work" and I'm unable to make a digital connection.  You'll have to search for that tune yourself. I suggest the live eighties versions with Prince in a unitard. ]

“Let’s work” is an understatement from the enigmatic Prince.  His output is stunning.  I probably a dozen good Prince albums.  Prince certainly worked.

You’ve got to work.  You’ve got to work to be funky.  You’ve got to work to be real.  You have to work to be anything.

James Brown: “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”

But this is the least indulgent song imaginable.  This is emblematic of funk-a-teers going to work. Militarily precise in the application of snare and slap bass.  Dance floor mandatory!  With just enough swing to make sure you know it came from the land of 8 billion lakes or where ever Prince is from.

The real power of Prince is that if you are open and aware then you have to acknowledge his brilliance.

Also suggested is the Wax Poetics Alan Leeds article about tour managing Prince.

 

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Clipse Studies 102: No Malice is good

It is worth noting the 2009 Clipse album “Til the casket Drops” as a marker of a few key moments in hip hop. 

–> excessive consumerism refined. 

–> objectifying sexism as inevitable hip hop video “wallpaper”. 

–> Pharrell’s production genius. 

–> the last time No Malice rhymed as Malice. 

Despite buying the CD in the store, I didn’t know there was a video for this song until today.  In retrospect No Malice seems to be showing his discomfort with the lifestyle embodied in the video.  “Mama lookin’ right, and I don’t even want her.” 

Entitled masculinity as means of riding the fence. 

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Americans are vampires: Ebola edition

I ran across a Boing Boing post where they point out that two American missionaries who contracted Ebola appear to have saved by an experimental treatment.  CNN describes the situation:

Its a story that could have come from a cinematic medical thriller: Two American missionary workers contract Ebola. Their situation is dire. Three vials containing a highly experimental drug are flown into Liberia in a last-ditch effort to save them. And the drug flown in last week appears to have worked, according to a source familiar with details of the treatment.Dr. Kent Brantlys and Nancy Writebols conditions significantly improved after receiving the medication, sources say. Brantly was able to walk into Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after being evacuated to the United States last week, and Writebol is expected to arrive in Atlanta on Tuesday.

via Ebola drug likely saved American patients – CNN.com.

1.   Starting in March 2014, Ebola started to be seen in West Africa.  More than 1600 Africans have shown up sick with more than half of those infected dying.  None of these people got a last-minute salvation.

2.  Everyone in the world has to be terrified of Ebola.  It is one of the most scary diseases I’ve ever heard about.  The notion that a pharmaceutical company in San Diego had a treatment that seems to have worked that was never shared with dying African people is offensive.

3.  I can only imagine what this looks like to people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

4.  The cure had to be pried out of the hands of a for-profit pharmaceutical corporation.  Turns out the months of Africans dying wasn’t sufficient incentive to release the treatment.   So how did these two white American missionaries find out about this miracle treatment?  CNN explains that the missionary charity (Samaritans Purse) made the connection:

As the Americans conditions worsened, Samaritans Purse reached out to a National Institutes of Health scientist who was on the ground in West Africa, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.”The scientist was able to informally answer some questions and referred them to appropriate company contacts to pursue their interest in obtaining the experimental product,” NIAID said.The experimental drug, known as ZMapp, was developed by the biotech firm Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., which is based in San Diego. The patients were told that the treatment had never been tried before in a human being but had shown promise in small experiments with monkeys.

via Ebola drug likely saved American patients – CNN.com.

5.  You might call these Americans vampires.  Back from the dead saved by the magical blood of the sacrifices of those who came before them:

The medicine is a three-mouse monoclonal antibody, meaning that mice were exposed to fragments of the Ebola virus and then the antibodies generated within the mices blood were harvested to create the medicine. It works by preventing the virus from entering and infecting new cells.

via Ebola drug likely saved American patients – CNN.com.

The rush of resources and last-minute miracle part of this narrative is worth talking more about.  But also the sacrifices of the mice, monkeys and the dead Africans have to be considered when thinking about these two saved missionaries.

I think this makes visible the hierarchy of human bodies — the idea that some people count more than others.

Worth noting that the Wall Street Journal reports that one of the Americans was also given a blood transfusion from an African Ebola survivor.

Dr. Brantly and Ms. Writebol began receiving supportive care as soon as they were diagnosed, according to their respective charities. Dr. Brantly also got a blood transfusion from a 14-year-old boy who survived Ebola under Dr. Brantlys care, in the hope that antibodies would help him, too, fight off the virus. Both Dr. Brantly and Ms. Writebol received an experimental serum, the charities said, though they didnt specify what the treatment was.

via U.S. Ebola Virus Patient Being Treated in Atlanta Faces Crucial Days – WSJ.

6.  Some people might ask: ‘don’t you think it’s worth it? Having a potential cure for Ebola is more important than any of these complaints about how the drug got made or released?

I would respond that the harm is done.  Any attempt to justify this kind of hierarchical violence is probably worth noting in itself as evidence of a pernicious desire in the questioner to defend the pharmaceutical company.

Of course I wish for a cure for Ebola and am glad that a treatment seems to be in the works.  I hope for an immediate and full distribution of this new treatment to everyone who has Ebola.

I haven’t seen any leader or press report advocating that the drug should be shared with other dying people.

It is always worth thinking about how we do things.   Few would deny that injustices are done in the name of best intentions.   And we should examine how CNN and the Wall Street Journal write about a phenomenon.

The Wall Street Journal  reports that the death rate of those who get Ebola is one reason why researching a cure isn’t a priority:

There are several vaccines and drug treatments in development and testing for Ebola, but none have been approved by regulators. Commercializing them is a challenge given that Ebola is a rare disease, said Thomas Geisbert, who works on potential Ebola vaccine platforms as a researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.”Ebola is very rare—there is not a financial incentive for large pharmaceutical companies to make vaccines for Ebola,” he said. “Its really going to require government agencies or a foundation.”

via U.S. Ebola Virus Patient Being Treated in Atlanta Faces Crucial Days – WSJ.

7.  I’m glad that someone helped to save these two people’s lives.  Here is hoping that same impulse counts for everyone else in the world.

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