Song-in-action Blog

Hip Hop

Are you an Academic Hoarder?

Posted by Katina on October 5, 2010 at 12:59 am

Followers of my Twitter account (@krsprof) know that I watch A&E’s Hoarders and TLC’s  Hoarding: Buried Alive all the time. After every episode, I look at my bookshelves, desk, and file cabinets and start sorting my belongings into the three stacks: keep, donate, throw away. I think one of the things that fascinates me about the show is even though these people are way, way over the edge, it is easy to see how you could become overwhelmed by stuff – especially if you are an academic. This past week, Inside Education and the Chronicle of Higher Education both had posts on hoarding/collecting/archiving in academica. In Academic Hoarding, Meg Palladino talks about how she is accumulating books, office supplies, and university gear.

“I have a lot of pens and magic markers in various colors. I have a lot of paperclips; I especially prize the square or pointy paper clips that come from other countries, and I have a black and yellow striped paper clip that I like. I have a giant box full of outdated business cards that I can never possibly use before there is another change to my title, the name of my department, the name of the college or the logo of the University. I also have a lot of books. I have multiple copies of some books, in case students or faculty need to borrow them. Finally, I have a stash of university-branded swag – backpacks, mugs, magnets and key chains. Those are tools of my trade.”

I am very sympathetic to Meg’s plight.  I didn’t realize how much stuff I had in my office until I left my job as an assistant professor to work for the federal government.  At the time, I taught about the politics of popular music and popular culture. I was probably the only political science prof on campus whose office was covered with hip hop dolls, playing cards, games, posters, etc. When I left to move to MD, I packed everything hip-hop into boxes because I no longer had any place to display them. I also had to find a home for my collection of ten years of articles on Baltimore schools (from my dissertation) and my archive of tabloid coverage of American presidents, all of my books, journals, magazines, music, papers, files, etc.  Did I mention that I also had a home office full of even more things that had to be packed up?

When I arrived in MD, I had to make some hard choices about what to keep and what had to go. It almost broke my heart to whittle down two office’s worth of materials into two file cabinets and a couple of bookshelves. It was very, very hard at first. The first step was storage, then letting the storage go, and then being even more hard core about the sort.  Even though I gave tons of stuff away, Hoarders has inspired me to get back to the basics.  To do so, I merged their sorting method from one I saw on Wife Swap (the wife was professional organizer). For each item, she said to decide:

  • Do I need it? (If yes, keep it, if not donate or throw away)
  • Do I love it? (If yes, keep it, if not donate or throw away)
  • Does it make me money (If yes, keep it, if not donate or throw away)

As my priorities have shifted, I have been giving and throwing more and more things away. I gave most of my academic books to Books for International Goodwill and recycled my magazines/tabloids for my vision boards. I sold the collectibles on Ebay and at a yard sale and sold my fiction books on Amazon. I must say that it is great to have much less stuff in my apartment. Especially when what is left are things that I really love and/or hold an important place in my world.

Right now I have two sets of things that need to go, but I am holding on to them so that I can find them a proper home. What to do with archives is a serious question. When historian Roy Rosenzweig died, his wife had to figure out what to do with an entire basement’s worth of materials he had collected over the years.  She was blessed to find an organization that would take possession of his primary and secondary resources. I feel lucky to only have two relatively small archives to give away. One is a collection of National Enquirer and Globe coverage of American presidents from Ronald Reagan to G.W. Bush. The other is ten years worth of microfilms of the Baltimore Afro-American. Even though I haven’t worked on either of these projects in years, it doesn’t feel right to throw the material away. If you are interested in either of these items let me know. They would make great resources for a graduate student (hint, hint) instead of clutter in my apartment.

Are you an academic with too much stuff? How do you deal with it?

Filed under: Donate,Hip Hop

Musicians join Extreme Makeover Home Edition

Posted by Katina on December 7, 2009 at 2:24 am

Tonight’s episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition features Usher assisting the crew in building a home for the Scott family who lost their husband/father who was killed in an accident.

In past seasons, musicians just sang. But this season the show has asked celebrities of all sorts to roll up their sleeves and pick up hammers and paint brushes to help the families receive hope in the form of a new home.

Check out my Song-In-Action episode guide of the musicians on Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Clicking on the picture will take you to ABC.com where you can watch the full episode. Clicking on the name of the artist will lead to articles/blogs about their experiences on the show. I hope you enjoy.

Katina

#1 Rapper Xzibit – Hill Family Episode

ABC/MARK BRENDEL
ABC/MARK BRENDEL

“I got to know the family, the mother, the father, the kids, and the situation they were in . . . To see them go through that, and see the transformation … it’s something to know anticipation for myself, but when you anticipate something for somebody else, it’s something exciting.” Xzibit

[The show liked Xzibit so much that he came back for the Mattingly home w/ Clint Black]

#2 Country Musician Trace Adkins – Marshall Family Episode

Trace-Adkins-Extreme-Makeover

““I’ve worked with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition three times now, and I personally feel that they’re doing God’s work. It’s such a noble thing that those folks do and anytime I get a chance to be a part of it and help out in some way, I’m always eager to do it.” Trace Adkins

#3 Singer/Actress Ashley Tisdale – Hampton Family Episode

Ashley-Tisdale-5-500x334

“When I saw the family and the reaction to the house I just, like, started tearing up . . .It’s like this really great deserving family and then also you see like all these volunteers and their family members and their friends just all getting together helping them. It’s just such a great feeling to be part of that.” Ashley Tisdale

#4 Country Musician Kellie Pickler (American Idol) – Terpenning Family Episode

kellie-extreme

“I mean, this family was so amazing, so beautiful and their story was completely heartbreaking.  So to finally be able to build a house that was functional for them, in their situation.  It’s so rewarding.  We were rewarded with so many smiles, so to see them smile when the buss moved and they saw the house, it was life-changing and such a blessing.” Kelli Pickler

#5 Country musician Clint Black (w/ Xzibit) – Mattingly Family Episode

Big-Rivers and Clint Black

“I feel it is essential to be trained in first aid and CPR, including how to use an AED. I was pleased to volunteer for the ‘Extreme Makeover Home Edition’ episode and proud to support an organization that teaches these lifesaving skills.”  Clint Black (a Red Cross volunteer)

#6 R&B Singer Usher – Scott Family Episode

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“I was motivated to help the family when I heard about their ability to continue to serve their community even after suffering a loss . . .Not only was it great to help a family that is from my home state, but this family exemplified giving back to the community.” Usher

[Watch Usher discuss the experience on YouTube until the full episode is live on ABC.Com.]

Music hitting my heart

Posted by Katina on November 1, 2009 at 11:24 pm

“Music hittin’ your heart because I know you got soul”  Public Enemy, Fight the Power

Lately I have been in an old school state of mind. My best friend from college convinced me to go see the Brand New Heavies last weekend at the Birchmere. I am so glad I went. It gave me the chance to fall in love all over again with the group’s ability to fill a room with sound and bring voice to everything from the ups and downs of love to the power of following your dreams.

I think my favorite song by Brand New Heavies is Brother Sister. The lyrics move me:

There’s no need to feel you’re on your own

Just let your intuition guide you through

Take one step toward what you believe

Don’t be afraid to make your move …

Don’t be scared go out there

Stand up

Be strong go out there

Hold on

To the real things that matter

‘Cause no one’s gonna hand’ em to you

On a silver platter

I left the concert thinking – “boy I need to listen to live music more often.” It inspires me. The right song can make you want to move mountains, save the world, and fight for causes that you believe in. That’s what this blog is really about – music serving as the inspiration or catalyst for individuals and communities to bring about social change.

When I think about social anthems that really were about shaking people up and pushing them towards action, I always come back to Public Enemy’s Fight the Power. Watch Here

The words are so . . . . well, powerful

Fight the Power

As the rhythm designed to bounce

What counts is that the rhymes

Designed to fill your mind

Now that you’ve realized the prides arrived

We got to pump the stuff to make us tough

From the heart

It’s a start, a work of art

To revolutionize make a change nothin’s strange

A couple of days ago, I received an email about tickets for an upcoming Public Enemy benefit concert to benefit a homeless shelter in DC. The group has been on my mind ever since (and in my ears, much love to DJ Dredd for putting PE in the mix at Bhangraween).  For my readers that grew up during the height of Public Enemy, you remember how large the group’s presence was. Love them or hate them, the group had the energy and power to light things on fire with their music. I am really excited to see them in DC using their music to call attention to a problem that really needs the full force of America to solve it – youth homelessness.

So let me take a minute to plug the concert and the cause –

Public Enemy’s Number One – While Public Enemy have made ground-breaking hip-hop since their start over 20 years ago, they’ve also done their fair share of raising awareness for political and social causes. In an effort to help fight youth homelessness, Public Enemy bring their bass-heavy, manic live show to D.C. this November. Those who saw them at this year’s Virgin Mobile FreeFest know that Chuck D, Flavor Flav and crew still dominate socially and sonically. Virgin Mobile Presents PUBLIC ENEMY To Benefit The Sasha Bruce House, a homeless youth shelter. @ G.W. Lisner Auditorium • Washington, D.C. November 18 7pm Doors”

So for $25 (plus all those fees) you can Purchase Tickets and be part of the PE family again while supporting a great cause. The Sasha Bruce Youthwork  is a cornerstone of youth services to at risk children in DC. The Sasha Bruce House is the only open access shelter for youth in D.C.  For more information on the Sasha Bruce House and other SB Youthwork programs see www.sashabruce.org.

Fight the Power People,

Katina

President Elect Obama w/ Sasha Bruce Youthwork Work Crew

President Elect Obama w/ Sasha Bruce Youthwork Work Crew

Countdown to Black Girls Rock! Fundraiser – Oct. 17, 2009 in NYC

Posted by Katina on October 15, 2009 at 4:44 am

One of my favorite things to do is to support groups that empower young women. It’s a double-bonus for me when the organization is related to music. Black Girls Rock! is a nonprofit youth empowerment mentoring organization founded by celebrity DJ, Beverly Bond.

On Saturday, October 17, 2009, Black Girls Rock! is hosting the 4th Annual Black Girls Rock! Awards to raise money for the organization and give much love and respect to women (and one man!) who serve as inspiration and role models to young women of color.

It’s going to be a fantastic event and I just hate that I can’t make the round trip to NYC myself this weekend. If you are in NYC, make your way by to see co-hosts Regina King and Tracee Ellis Ross honor the achievements of

  • Mary J. Blige – “Icon” Award
  • Raven-Symoné – “Young, Gifted, and Black” Award
  • Naomi Campbell – “Fashionista” Award.
  • Janelle Monáe – “Who’s Got Next” Award
  • Dr. Sonia Sanchez – “Living Legend” Award
  • Dr. Mehret Mandefro – “Community Service” Award
  • Iyanla Vanzant – “Shot Caller” Award
  • DJ Spinderella, “Jazzy Joyce DJ” Award
  • Anthony Hamilton, Soul Brother #1? Award

Ticket information can be found at http:/home/katinara/public_html/katinaraestapleton.com/www.blackgirlsrockinc.com/Awards09/.

Show some love for the Black Girls Rock! Fundraiser.

Show some love for the Black Girls Rock! Fundraiser.

You can’t make it? You can still help by donating funds to help the organization continue its programming. For more information on their programs, including the The Black Girls Rock!/ScratchDj Academy Program, see http:/home/katinara/public_html/katinaraestapleton.com/www.blackgirlsrock.org/. You can also check out their blog or follow Black Girls Rock! on Twitter.

[Thanks BlackGivesBack for the heads up on this great organization]

Dropping Knowledge: The theory behind the Song-In-Action blog

Posted by Katina on October 5, 2009 at 2:01 am

I have taught a class on the politics of popular music for almost ten years now – first to freshman at Duke University and most recently to graduate students in the Communications, Culture, and Technology program at Georgetown University. My favorite part of the course is the unit on Music as Political Action. I developed the unit based around Mark Mattern’s book Acting-in-Concert: Music, Community, and Political Action.  Mark theorizes that there are three separate, but often overlapping types of music-as-politics or Acting in Concert:  confrontational political action (ex. protest music), deliberative political action (i.e. debates/arguments/conversations around important issues) and pragmatic political action (i.e. doing something about it).

Mark’s work on pragmatic political action is the inspiration for this blog. He breaks the concept down as collaborative problem solving.  In the case of music-related pragmatic political action, music communities work together to first draw attention to shared interests, problems, or concerns, and then organize to address them.

There are many examples of pragmatic political action within music communities. Mark’s examples include the organization of Cajuns to address “economic marginalization, ethnic stigma, and cultural assimilation.” Years ago in “From the margins to the mainstream: the political power of hip hop,” I wrote about movements like Stop the Violence (STV) which was aimed at discouraging black-on-black crime and Rap-the-Vote .

Since teaching the pragmatic political action concept in my music and politics classes, a thought kept nudging me. How can I improve on an already great concept? Song-in-Action is this attempt. Mark’s work is really community focused and that’s appropriate for his work. But I was struck by the idea that it only takes one person to make a difference. Think about it. If one person can take a stand and make a start, others will follow behind.

The Song-in-action blog will expand pragmatic political action to include the idea that a single song (or person, or dream) can serve as the foundation for community, political, or social change.  It’s a work in progress; as the blog evolves let me know what you think. In later blogs, I plan to revisit how different groups within the hip-hop community join forces to become agents of social change.  I also plan to highlight the country music community, pop artists, rock stars, music teachers, fans of all sorts, and much more.

Peace,

Katina

P.S. If you know of an example of a single person or groups making a difference through music, email me or tweet me! I would love to write about it or offer the opportunity for you to guest-blog on Song-in-Action.