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I'm Not Your Gopher

by Various Artists

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about

About the project: I’m Not Your Gopher: University of Minnesota Students Sound Off is an artistic platform for diverse students at the University of Minnesota to express inequalities, oppression, and violence at the institution. Too often, our University caters to “Gophers” who fit into a collegiate trademark of privilege and colonialism, whilst leaving underrepresented students behind. I’m Not Your Gopher raises the voices and stories of those who do not fit this mold. It is a project for radical and eclectic poetry, spoken word pieces, true stories and rants. It is a project to share the histories and narratives that are repeatedly silenced on our campus. It is a project to share forms of oppression you may have never considered. It is a project to share the dubious side of higher education; not the side centered around mascots, sports and avarice, but on people, lived-experience and mutual learning. After all, true learning and action is what higher education should be! As the great Paulo Freire noted, “One cannot expect positive results from an educational or political action program which fails to respect the particular view of the world held by the people. Such a program constitutes cultural invasion, good intentions notwithstanding” (1968).

The album title, I’m Not Your Gopher is wordplay, which pays homage to James Baldwin’s unfinished work, Remember This House, made into the 2016 documentary, “I Am Not Your Negro” by Naoul Peck.

* Curriculum included with download.

credits

released May 8, 2017

Lily Briggs, Danielle Cotton-Safi, Yadira Damazo Cruz, Baila Elkin, Khadija Hassan, Maleah Martinez, Madison Moore, Atosha Zerbine Rypa, Hallelujah Tamene, Chloé Wallace, Nate Whittaker, Troy Wildenberg, and John Wilson.

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Pluralistic Records Minneapolis, Minnesota

Pluralistic Records is committed to EDM's original roots of diversity and creating community through rhythm. We do this by releasing unique music while giving back to our global community. We releases distinct and unique tracks that cross the boundaries between Chicago, Detroit, disco house, and tech house...or simply, house. Our music drives and is intended to push the dance-floor. ... more

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Track Name: Lily Briggs - Let Them Eat Cake
On the menu today is a portion of wilting nutrition, a cup of worker cruelty, and a side of capitalism.

Food rights are human rights.

“We prepare students to meet the great challenges facing our state, our nation, and our world.” The problem with this statement, University of Minnesota, is that you continually buddy up with corporations creating these great challenges facing our state, our nation, and our world.

Aramark, yes I think you are familiar with them. You broke the piece of bread over the rights of your students and employees.

But hey, day old bread is always discounted.
Aramark.

When students pushed for “real food” you threw down your iron fist, refusing to budge.

Where were you University of Minnesota?
You are suppose to be working for the students, clearly you have your mouth full.

It’s interesting UMN, really it is.
It seems you keep signing contracts that benefit the top,
Yes, like the $50,000 bonus you seem to slide into Aramark’s pocket every year when they meet customer’s satisfactions.
I don’t remember ever being asked if I was satisfied.

I do remember you threatening my peers that if they didn’t come into work they would be fired. They had norovirus. Their mom just died.
Fuck you, Aramark.

Why is it that a university that strives itself in opportunity can’t even feed 30 percent of its students?

Kaler, do you know that 15,344 of your students are food insecure?
While you wine and dine your donors in the Campus Club, we struggle to find more than a package of Ramen.

So instead of raising tuition to pay for another twelve year contract with your good pals, provide some goddamn vegetables that weren’t sent here from 20,000 miles away.

We are in the center of a food metropolis, yet we are a food desert.
Track Name: Atosha Zerbine Rypa - Bleed
I’ve always dreamed of saving the world
In middle school
I found a deep passion in writing
When I suffered from depression
At that time I was realizing just how big the world was
And how small my hands were
To stop the world from bleeding
This realization put me in a deep depression
Made me hate myself for my small hands
And made me hate the world
For having so many open wounds

So as my hands held my red inked pen
The ink only bled out stories
With wounds
That never stopped bleeding

Mama once asked me
Kwa nini unandikaga ma adisi ye ne aya fura ishi

“Why do you always write sad stories?”

Then she said:
“Life is not only filled with painful wounds
With time wounds heal
So why don’t you write about
Happy stories too?

Ever since then, as my hands held my red inked pen
The ink only bled out stories
With happy endings

But as I get older
It’s becoming harder to heal these open wounds
With a Band-Aid
With a happy-ending
Because sometimes happy endings water down the real problems
They give a simple conclusion to real issues
When some problems in life are far more complicated
To fix than just putting a Band-Aid
Over the wound

Like the issues individuals from marginalized communities face at PWIs

August 28, 1963
Martin Luther King gave the
I have a Dream speech
April 4, 1968
James Earl Ray shot a bullet
Through that dream
Leaving shattered pieces of the dream behind
Jan. 14, 1969, a group of about 60 students
Took over Morrill Hall
Giving a chance for marginalized communities
To dream on this campus
This included the 2nd floor of Coffman
A place where
Students of color could have a place to call there’s
At a predominantly white institution
So for a moment it seemed like

These students had managed to pick up
The broken pieces of MLK’s dream
Despite all the pain they went through
As these pieces cut through
Their bare hands
But 42 years later
Part of that dream became renovated
White washed
Destroyed
With the Renovation of the 2nd floor
Which took place because a few white students
Felt “uncomfortable” being in that space
Despite the fact that
This PWI
Was made for THEM to succeed

And be comfortable
And the one place they did not feel comfortable
Was torn apart in a heart beat

People bled against the renovation
They protested
But the only thing left today
Are blood stains
Of shattered dreams
As these individuals tried
Time and time again
To pick up these broken pieces
That cut through their bare skin

So how am I supposed to write a happy ending to this story?
When there’s still students
Staff
Alumni
Who are still bleeding
As they continue to pick up
The broken pieces?

The closing of general college
The shutdown of PSTL classes
The continual defunding of cultural clubs
The removal of faculty at MCAE

How am I supposed to write a happy ending
When there’s still dreams that are being shattered
On this campus
When there's still wounds that
Have not healed yet/bleeding

Some of us still try to pick up
These broken pieces
Even if their sharp edges
Cut through our bare skin
We put on Band-Aids
Over the wounds just to get us through
The next year
Sometimes the institution even
Provides us with their own Band-Aids
Give the problem a quick solution
Water down the real problem
But you can’t fix a wound without proper care
Just because you cover it with a Band-Aid
Does not mean it’s not there

So Sama-annie Mama alakina adisi zangu zote azi ta pata muisho Ya ku furaha isha

I’m sorry Mama but I can’t find a happy ending
To all my stories

Because although some wounds heal with time
There are still those that haven’t healed yet
And I refuse to
Water down the real problems
Give a simple conclusion to real issues
With a happy ending

So as my hands hold my red inked pen
I’ll ends this story
With a question
How much more do marginalized communities have to bleed
Before they can feel like they belong?
Track Name: Troy Wildenberg - A Beloved Gay Speaks
Dear U of M
I am one of your beloved GAYS
I am one of the students that you sold on this place

“One of the Top 25 Most LGBT Friendly Campuses” you said to me
You said “it’s so accepting here”
You said “it’s such a great campus to be on if you come from a diverse background”

Something we should talk about later is,
What on earth is your definition of a “diverse background”
You said “it’s very safe here if you’re LGBT”
The joy I had in choosing this place was overwhelming
I bragged about how happy I was gonna be here
I told everyone in my hometown how supported I was gonna feel here
And the sick thing is that I do

I do I do. A cis gender, white, gay, male, who is visibly able bodied, feels safe here
PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK U OF M

Excuse me U of M, but can we talk?

Can we talk about how you sell people on the idea of acceptance and inclusivity
Without ever addressing the intersectionality of the Queer Community?

Oh, I’m sorry U of M, does your acceptance
of U.S. born, white, gay, men safeguard your failed attempt to protect students when their safety was verbally assaulted publicly on the Washington Avenue Bridge?

Does your ability to claim the existence of a GLBT studies minor undo the fact that trans people still can’t walk into Boynton and have a guarantee that their correct name will be called when they have an appointment?

Does your acceptance of me grant you permission to ignore the fact that the land we stand on was stolen in a forced removal of Indigenous Dakota people
and that we refuse to pay them reparations for it?

SIDE NOTE: It also doesn’t help your case that that department was crammed into one of the oldest
and most outdated buildings on campus.

Does your rainbow “M” on your website change the fact
that students have to take two or more elevators to get into a building that is connected by skyway, which is connected to another building just to get into their class if they are in a wheelchair or power chair?

U of M, we need to talk.

We need to talk because you have not shown up for people of color
You have not shown up for immigrant rights
You have not shown up for first-generation students
You have not shown up for student with disabilities
You have not shown up for students who don’t have the money to pay for this place
You have not shown up for the intersectionality of the Queer Community
You have not shown up for the rights of your students, faculty, and staff

Don’t you dare use
My identity as some easy cop out
To show people that you’re inclusive

Don’t you dare
Because you cannot keep saying that you are inclusive
Just because you accept someone like me
Track Name: Baila Elkin - Let's Talk Science
Let’s talk science
Soft science, hard
What we value, what we disregard
What we spend our time on
What we simply skim
It’s pretty grim

Biomolecules are vital
but people an annoyance
Treatment is essential
prevention a flamboyance

When mental health is non-essential
a side issue, inconsequential
Its treatment relegated to the bottom of our list
When challenges are still seen
as a thing we can demean
Why do you think such stigma still persists?

We’re shocked, incensed, “it makes no sense”
We say and then we act
In ways that keep such stigma quite intact

No need for sociology
Just grab an MCAT book
Skim through for a quick look
Learn a term
Or two, confirm
that you don’t really care
And so what?
you have no time to spare
Anyway, it’s not like OChem where you need to learn the stuff for “soft” science a little’s quite enough

Let’s talk science
Your science, mine
What we publish
What we undermine

What we see as valid
What we view as real
A white-supreme, colonial appeal

Read a paper, read a journal
Whose voices do you hear?
Who makes the definitions?
Disparities appear

What’s respected?
What’s suspected?
What’s inspected?
What’s neglected?
We tend to see, apparently
Lived-experience is nothing
You need a PhD

And whose views does that reflect?
What we’re taught in schools,
Who gets to make those rules?

Let’s talk science
Hard science, soft
What we value, what we hold aloft

What’s within our purview
What we can ignore
what’s more

We make arbitrary separations
to keep our conscience clean
It’s obscene

A myth of objectivity
allows us to deny
Prejudice, discrimination
People left to die

To claim to care for treatment
is untenably conceited
When ignoring social structures
of why people go untreated!

Let’s talk science
My science, yours
Strike that
Let’s empower

Let’s talk science
Ours
Track Name: Yadira Damazo Cruz - Raining White Supremacy
Happy. I was having a really good day. My boyfriend and I watched the last Star Wars movie in Coffman Memorial Union and we came out of the auditorium amazed at how good the movie was. We stepped outside in the dark, chilly, rainy night. The type of night that when you exhale, it looks like there’s smoke coming out of your mouth. The type of night with the perfect, cool temperature that hugs your skin.

On our left, next to a pillar were three white college guys dressed in suits who were complaining about the rain. “This is not what I signed up for!” “Why is it raining?!” ”Fuck it, let’s walk.”

They started walking towards the mall area of the U of M campus and when we passed by, we suddenly hear, “we need to build the wall and get rid of all these stupid Mexicans! I need to get my Trump gear on!”

I sinked. Did they say that because they saw me and felt the need to say something racist? I don’t know, but a wave of shock took over my body because of how comfortable they were saying that out loud. I was crushed by those words. Waves of hot lava swarmed my body, but so did waves of pain. Pain. Pain because he called ALL of MY people, stupid.

Their ignorance disgusted me. I felt small. I felt, uncomfortable. I turned over to my boyfriend and his face was full of anger and he was ready to punch these entitled pieces of shit, who have no idea what it is like to be generalized and placed in a subordinate position. Oh, but there’s something even worst than that.

Our “leaders” defend hate speech rather than stand against it. It makes me feel like this institution is only for certain people and not others. The University’s president, Eric Kaler, has made racist and hate speech acceptable by defending the College Republican’s slogan “build the wall” on the Washington Avenue Bridge, which obviously targeted a certain group of people, calling it “free speech” which allows all these people to go around campus comfortably shitting racist things out of their mouths.

He held an event a couple days after that to have dialogue, but of course it was to shut us up and pretend like he was doing something about it. He held the same damn beliefs after all the tears, frustration, fear and sadness people showed.

Unhappy. The perfect night suddenly turned into the worst night. I remember walking through Dinkytown and being surrounded by tons of white people laughing and having a good time. I felt small. I felt unreal.
Track Name: Maleah Martinez - Show Me The Money
All I wanna do is get an education. I don’t care about attending football games or spring jam concerts. What I care about is my husband making it through his 24-hour shifts as a firefighter safely. I care about the baby growing inside of me and the 4-year-old stepson I agreed to raise as my own. Kaler and U of M? What do y’all care about? I know for sure it isn’t me and my family. So what could it be? Don’t worry. I’ll give you a hint. It’s green and the root of all evil.

Sorry U of M higher-ups. Nobody is fooled by the concerned emails you send or the activities that get planned to distract us. We all know that when you see us you don’t see people, but dollar signs. More students means more money from us and the government. I don’t take it personally. I know that universities now function like a business so the priority is no longer people, but your bottom line. And I guess it’s harsh of me to say that the U doesn’t make people a priority.

The U cares a whole lot about certain people; if you’re an alumni donor, male, white, wealthy and if you’re all 4 you’re a U of M MVP for life. It just confuses me because you sure put a lot of the money that I give to you guys into faking like you care, and I’m definitely part of the diversity statistics you parade around on your website; but, wanna know how I know you don’t actually care about us?

You charge students late fees who are already struggling to pay the 3,000 dollars their financial aid, which was mostly students loans, didn’t cover and refuse to let them continue to the next semester until it’s paid in full.
You charge students for parking and printing. You give corrupt banks and organizations complete unchecked, manipulative, and thieving access to incoming freshman. Encouraging them to open an account with an establishment that is totally fine with adding even more debt to their U of M experience bill.

You send a campus wide email about talking to our representatives so they don’t decrease funding, instead of taking a cut in pay in solidarity. You aren’t working with organizers that want to make higher education free and universal, or coming up with realistic strategies to slow or halt rising tuition so my kids can go to college if they want.

You aren’t considering bringing back General College so more black and brown students have the chance to get into the U. The funding to ethnic studies departments continues to get cut and Lord knows that I would feel like a priority if the one department on this campus filled with teachers, staff, and students that look like me and is centered around curriculum about my people was a priority.

But no, when there’s a budget crisis there’s deliberation about cutting the “unessential” programs. Last time I checked, African Americans were pretty essential when we created the US economy with our slave labor, but I’ll switch topics.

I know how upset your white privilege gets when there’s talk about reparations for the minorities that were done wrong in this country...Don’t pretend to care about me U of M. You’re doing a crappy job. Either put my money where your mouth is and do something to make college more affordable, or shut up.
Track Name: Chloé Wallace - Privilege Is Power
Verse

I’ll stand in back or push me to the front lines,
because the cops don't think I've committed crimes.
To my queer friends, I'll go with you to the bathroom,
to keep you company and safe because of governmental doom,

And if you weren't born in the United States
I’ll still fight for you and demand living wage rates.
Using my privileged, white cis identity,
I can lend a helping hand in my community
because I've got...

Chorus

Privilege. I've got a whole lot of privilege!
I'll fight for my neighbors, fight for my friends,
who don't fall into a heteronormative lens,
Privilege, a whole lotta privilege.
And if I get in your way or say something wrong,
please let me know and I'll move along, ohhh yeah

Verse

I can't walk alone at night in a parking lot,
but I can walk along the street without unjustly being shot, I don't get paid as much as most cis white men,
but I’m privileged to make more than my POC friends

My culture is reflected on the ACT,
but folks from other cultures weren't as lucky as me
I don’t have much money to my name,
but considering it all my situation is tame
and-I-can-fight-these-norms-with-my...

Privilege, some real true privilege.
I will silently join or fund your movement,
while trying to not get whiteness all over it,
I am privileged, woah, privileged.
I'm so damn lucky for all that I've got,
now it's time to dismantle all big-gots, ohhh yeah

Verse:

Listen up Gophers, hear what I say,
Open your eyes and understand to-day,
You’ve got a lot of privilege as a student here,
Especially if you're white, cis, able-bodied and not queer

Our blessings and safety must be used
to fight for those that are being abused
So never forget that your bodily space
Is vital to the fight for the human race
If you just use your…

Privilege, please use your privilege
You have a voice, you have a soul,
So make some signs and fucking give it a go,
privilege, you gotta use that privilege
our people are dying day by day
because our government doesn’t give a fucking hay, ohhh yeah
Track Name: Nate Whittaker - Driven To Dysfunction
It’s quite fitting that the most privileged would so easily proclaim the old American adage, “I disagree with you, but defend to the death your right to say it.”

Within ten days of the Trump election, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported more than 860 acts of hate across America, something that has not been seen for decades. The data the SPLC used also showed that less than a handful of these incidents were anti-Trump.

In those few short days, two Muslim students of mine from the University of Minnesota were assaulted. One student’s mother had her hijab ripped off by a white man at a convenience store. Our campus exploded with hate graffiti and a once adored bridge on campus that crosses the Mississippi became ground zero for swastikas, “build the wall” paintings, and assaults.

The campus climate is the worst it has been in my twenty years at the institution, sanctioned by University President, Eric Kaler. It was President Kaler who told the campus community in an email that we, “needed to respect free speech.”

President Kaler should, as Owen Fiss once said, “lower his voice in order to hear the voices of others.”

During a campus climate forum, President Kaler dismissively told underrepresented students to “send him a bill” when he was told about the racist defacement of their sorority.

I wonder…where the hell is Kaler and the administration when the opportunity arises to speak out, to express solidarity with historically oppressed students, and help those who use hate speech to see the error of their ways? The administration created a "you belong here" campaign, which in its neutrality, merely asks people to "tolerate" each other. Historically oppressed people do not want to be "tolerated," they want liberation.

We are all damaged, Driven to Dysfunction if you will, when we fail to critique Kaler's neutrality in the face of hate speech. The administration has reminded us of the importance of free speech in oratory, but has done nothing to act against hatred.

Violence is not simply a physical act. Throughout history, violence has been perpetuated through words as well. On too many occasions, violent vernacular has created conditions in which people have turned to violent acts.

President Kaler: are we supposed to defend…in the name of neutrality…the conservative movement, Donald Trump, and campus Republicans, who advocate and communicate a clear intention to incite violence and promote hatred?

We have historical lessons for this type of horror – the most notorious example being Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines or the “RTLMC” (English translation: Thousand Hills Free Radio and Television) who broadcasted racist propaganda leading up to the Rwandan Genocide. Radio hosts called for mass acts of violence against the Tutsi. In his research regarding Hutu propaganda, David Yanagizawa-Drott found that up to ten-percent of violence against the Tutsi could be directly linked to statements made by RTLMC.

Others have also learned their lessons and have said “never again,” because it matters. In South Africa for example, hate speech and the incitement to violence is not a form of free speech. It is also called crimen injuria in the South African Constitution, which is defined as, “unlawfully, intentionally and seriously impairing the dignity of another.”

Not all forms of speech are free. BOMB! FIRE!

Not all forms of speech should be limited if they are offensive. POOP! SHIT!

When speech spawns violence towards other humans – who have already navigated hundreds of years of violence in our country and on our campus – turning a blind-eye in the name of “free speech” is violence itself.
Track Name: Baila Elkin - Does This Protest Sign Make Me Look Fat?
Go to a protest
Feel like a pro
Have a discussion
Feel in the know
All without breaking
the status quo
So -

We take a Facebook profile pic
to show the world we’re “woke”
Enlightened folk

We’ll commandeer and co-opt
a movement others built
to validate our privilege
and free ourselves from guilt
We’ll come and march to our own beat
and won’t let others lead
We’ll center things around ourselves
and what we want and need

We’ll wear a “no hate” badge and then
give stank-eye on the bus
We’ll balk at Giving Something Up
Not us!

We’ll “rage against the machine” by day
but stand stock-still each night
on a privileged conveyer belt
supporting that which we purport
to fight

No.

Rallies aren’t photo ops
and protest signs aren’t selfie props
Involvement to our satisfaction
really should involve some action

The kind that doesn’t stop
just ‘cos the protest’s done
(in fact that never really stops
once it’s begun)
But involves connection
Self-reflection
Good old fashioned introspection

How racist white supremacy
hurts us every day
that way
we’re not a “savior”
our behavior’s
Real
We feel

We can grow up
when we show up
with no hurt pride, no rage
when we’re not just in the limelight
but asked to be backstage
We still engage

When our question is “what do you need?”
not “what do I want to give?”
When this work is not a thing we do
but how we live
Track Name: Hallelujah Tamene - A Faded Memory
Do you remember?
Do you remember how slices of leather griped in your hand
Cut through air
Cut through flesh
Do you remember?

Do you remember?
Do you remember how, Eric Kaler, spoke of freedom of speech as if words don’t cut
Condemning the oppressed and glorifying the oppressor?
Do you remember?

Do you remember?
Do you remember how your mind never wanted to embrace “diversity”
But instead wanted to civilize the “inhumane”
Tearing sacred hair from full minds
Tearing sacred land from the hands of those who found it
Do you remember?

Do you remember?
Do you remember telling students they don’t belong at this university
Shutting down General College, PSTL courses
First-generation students coming to the University of Minnesota campus for opportunity, and support
But this institution never wanted their success.
Do you remember?

Do you remember?
Do you remember how your media turned us into THEM
Enemy.
How superpredator and plastered black and brown bodies on breaking news titled:
Rapist,
Thief
Murderer
Criminal
Allowed you to shoot us down and cage us up thinking you were safe
Do you remember?

Do you remember?
Do you remember how you advertised to an entire campus, to an entire police department, with your “timely alerts”, black, brown, dangerous men; forgetting that you were putting targets on their backs.
Do you remember?

Do you remember?
Cause if you don’t, you need to take a serious look at your history…
This is happening all over again

So can you remember?
Can you remember?
Because nothing’s going to change if all this is swept under the rug.
Track Name: Madison Moore - That's So Frat
"U of M frat suspended as an investigation is launched."

"Delta Upsilon officials were aware of sexual assaults ten months before the suspension."

"Protesters rally against rape culture in UMN frat row."

At the beginning of my experience here at the University of Minnesota, I was startled at the reoccurrence of these unsettling news headlines.

I will always feel anger and sadness when I read these headlines and stories, but each time I am less shocked as it seems like rape culture has been engrained as a norm in college campuses.

One headline reads, "U of M frat's ‘The Bachelor' notes are racist, sexist, and under investigation."

The Bachelor is a reality television show where the viewers watch a man date multiple women, and in the end, he chooses one to marry. A group of Delta Chi fraternity members who watched this dating show made "notes" about the women in the show. These "notes" were described as competitive brackets that the boys used to assess the contestants.

Not knowing what to expect, I clicked on the headline and saw the image of the notes. My jaw immediately dropped in disgust. To think that they were behind closed doors, able to freely express their unfiltered thoughts, and this is what they come up with.

The words these boys found in their vocabulary to describe these young women were derogatory, belittling, racist, sexist, and ableist.

Rachel, an attorney from Texas was described as "Black" and "greasy."
Danielle, who owns a small business was labeled as a "chink" and "nice tits."

Vanessa, a special education teacher was described as a "special t*rd wrangler."

Josephine, who is a nurse was characterized as "not that hot."

Raven, who is from Arkansas and owns a boutique was described as a "possible ni***r lover."

But it didn’t stop there, they used other phrases like "slut," "bad knees," “dumpy tits,” “chubby knees," and "needy.”

These notes exemplify the many issues that exist within fraternities on this campus and campuses around the country. When these issues among frats are brought up, they are investigated frivolously.

The words expressed in the notes are examples of the prevailing ideas of patriarchy, hyper-masculinity, racism, sexism, and ableism in this community. This is a culture that encourages dominance, hierarchy, and where "brotherhood" comes at the expense of accountability.

"Police investigating Alleged Rape at U of M involving Fraternity."

"Male fraternity pledge claims he was raped by a frat boy."

Where are these crimes in the campus timely warnings?
Track Name: Maleah Martinez - Real Music
(Singing Precious Lord Take My Hand)

Verse

Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light:

Refrain

Take my hand, precious Lord
Lead me home

Gospel...R&B...Rap...Jazz. These are the musical genres that touch parts of my soul that other musical genres can’t. The lyrics, melody, and rhythm are part of a story that all people can appreciate, but few really do. Foolishly, I thought that because I love music, singing, and playing the piano that I’d love being a music major. I didn’t know that the world’s history of colonialism, white supremacy, and patriarchy had tainted music departments in universities and colleges. I didn’t know that being a music major meant that I would be limited to singing, learning, and performing western European chant, baroque, classical, operatic, romantic, and 20th century music all written by white males.

I thought that surely once I got to my upper level courses we’d learn jazz theory and gospel and R&B vocal technique. No. I got an hour and a half lecture in one of my required courses on famous jazz musicians, but attendance wasn’t required that day, we didn’t have to memorize any of their music, and weren’t going to be tested on any of the material. We spent 4 lectures on Debussy, but when we finally get to talk about some of the most influential musicians in modern American and international music history, all they get is what could be mistaken for an honorable mention. We were required to take only 1 course on music of different cultures and every music major that I heard talk about it, thought the class was a joke and pointless.

School of music, if you aren’t going to give music that was created by African Americans and other minorities the respect and accreditation that it deserves, pull the music and books off the shelves in your music library and keep your choirs and instrumental ensembles from playing and singing it. You all claim to appreciate Black music, but it’s only to the extent of the university or college choir, band, or ensemble performing a watered down, white washed, un-soulful version of it. Music my people have written is exoctized, fetishized, and then appropriated.

You take something as beautiful and natural as music and use it as a tool to further oppress me and my culture. My history is important, my voice, that’s also an extension of who I am, matters, and to be successful music majors, black students shouldn’t have to learn and adopt the musical practices of western Europe, forget about their own, and then be forced to partake in white Americans interpretation of our culture and music only for the purposes of entertainment; because, let’s be real and honest — it’s a version of blackface. Until you can let go of your racism and honor music from other cultures the way you do white ones, leave it alone.
Track Name: Khadija Hassan & Danielle Cotton-Safi - Goddamn OverWorked
Dear University of Wherever

$26,245, that is what I owe you every year. But wait you say, we did give you employment within our institution, that should help with something. You're right, $600 and you think that is enough because scholarships and loans should help me pay for the rest, right? Tell me is it enough to cover $100 a month for groceries, $100 for cell phone and Wi-Fi, $500 for rent and $95 for car insurance; did I mention the parking you make me pay on campus, the gym fees you hide in my tuition, and fees that most students don’t even know they pay for or can opt out of.

What do you do for students who can be here academically but can hardly make it financially? Charging me for everything you can think of, is that how you feel you are helping me become successful or are you placing further stress on me on top of the four exams I have in one week? With all the money you already make, how much more are you going to charge me to make updates to the next fancy update of buildings or new football coach. How many sleepless nights will I have to get through to keep my A’s and my roof over my head before you decide to step up and say you are one of our students, we will not let you fail?

I got to give it to you — taking money from young adults like me in higher education is a great scam for having some way for me to owe our Capitalist society for as long as possible no matter what degree I receive, if the academic and financial stress doesn’t get to me first. Attending higher education means more prominent success but at the cost of my financial freedom, physical and mental health. 1152 hours is the amount of sleepless nights I have had since my first year at your institution, 365 is the amount of days I have before I am graduate. How many more sleepless nights, breakdowns, and stressful attacks must I have before you do something about it?

The way you structure education is the problem.

First, you have to be lucky enough to be given access to one. Second, you make it financially impossible. Third, we are all warm wallets in your classrooms jamming facts that will only be regurgitated back on a piece of paper.

This is not a piece that involved meticulously picked out words or clever puns. This is a rant, these are my frustrations, these are my truths because, goddamn, am I overworked.
Track Name: John Wilson - Accommodations
I am Deaf. My ears don’t work but I am not disabled. I’m disabled when the university puts up barriers for me.

That’s when I am Disabled

When professors don’t bother to get videos captioned- or worse pull off a YouTube video full of strings of garbled meaningless text: not tru-biz captions. “CRAP-tions”

That’s when I am Disabled

When Coffman doesn’t have flashing alarms going off during a gas leak, or when I can’t call for a security escort to walk with me across campus at night. When I am asked: “Do you read lips?”

That’s when I am Disabled

When professors question or ignore the accommodations letter from the DRC. When professors
tell student to drop the course because the DRC testing center isn’t open on weekends for the Saturday test.

That’s when we are Disabled

When invisible disabilities are trivialized or your disability is doubted on a weekly basis. When differently-abled folks are met with pity. When we are told “I’m so sorry”.

That’s when we are Disabled

When we are seen as medical problems, not as students, classmates, mentors, or a potential date.
When you don’t check your ableist ideas and assume you’re better than another person.

Then we are disabled.

And then you’re disabled too.

Because you are unable to see a disabled person as a person. See us, Talk to us. Tear off the label.

Tear down the barriers and then no one is disabled.