Starve for what they never provide, Make me wonder how we ever survive My hero's not yours, you probably arrested Your schools probably neglected them, they small thoughts you probably infected them, Feed us what you feed us you can lay us next to them.
Ya feel me? Whether it's a song, a poem, a letter or even simply a conversation, there are moments of immense lyrical power that speak to our experiences in direct ways. They're articulated in a way that makes it seem like there's no other way of saying the same thing.
These brief lyrics are in one of my favorite songs from a Minneapolis based hip hop group called Big Quarters made up of Brandon Allday and Medium Zach. The track is called Song for Brown Babies, I wonder why I dig it? It highlights the hopelessness of our educational system and the irony of the larger economic and political systems at play. Those connections between systems and our daily struggles was one of the main purposes of the Media Justice Leadership Institute. It was held in Washington D.C. last week as 18 organizations from 9 regions across the country came together to talk about media justice. In the room were media makers, artists, organizers, musicians, poets….needless to say a creative group. We began the week with visits to the Federal Communications Commission to push some of our commissioners to do the rights thing in regards to “Universal Broadband and Net Neutrality”. Don't worry if you're lost, I was too. Our delegation was made up of mostly People of Color, and speaking for myself I was pretty nervous since it's not something I'd ever done. At least not in Washington D.C. In front of the “federal government.” We were given our talking points the night before on both issues and the following day prior to heading off to the capitol we practiced. I was the first person chosen to stand up and deliver some of the talking points. I crashed and burned, but the feedback I received from the group was helpful. We practiced with several people and as the hour went by you could definitely see the improvement. That day we met with Commissioner Clyburn, Commissioner Cobbs and staff from Chairman Genachowski's office. By the time our last gathering of the day came, we all had our talking points down. “Our communities are becoming increasingly dependent on the internet.” We weaved in the real life stories occurring in regions, like the kid in New Mexico that bikes 17 miles on dirt roads to get to the nearest place where there's internet access. It was cool, but it was clear we were in their turf, you need only look at our outfits that day to know. The rest of MJLI was focused on training and planning for our upcoming campaign on Broadband. (Which I'm certain you'll hear about real soon.) But we culminated our time together with a talent show. I'll be honest leading up to the talent show I wasn't really all that excited about it cause I was going to be doing a puppet show. But once I saw the puppets made I was ready to go. For me personally, my favorite part of MJLI was the talent show, because it showed the immense creativity and endless possibility of 20 people in one room.
One of the highlights was a song written by our partners in the Bay Area. The song was called Broadband in Yo Face it was performed over music made famous by Lady Gaga's Poker Face. I don't go koo koo for Gaga, but Broadband in Yo Face brought the message we delivered to the FCC three days before that to a space I could connect to….music. Many of us realized that the song was too special and too good not to record it. So we busted out our Zoom recorder and at 1 a.m. recorded Broadband in Yo Face.
This song articulates the issue of broadband and net neutrality in a way that makes it seem like there's no other way of saying the same thing. Big ups to everyone who worked on recording and producing. A special shout out to Brandon Allday from Big Quarters who mixed it up for us on Pro Tools. Enjoy! Ya feel me?