Tupac and the black president: Coming to grips with social change.

manipulate (ma¦nipu|late):

Control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly or unscrupulously:
the masses were deceived and manipulated by a tiny group

I see no changes. All I see is racist faces.
Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races we under.
I wonder what it takes to make this one better place…
let’s erase the wasted.
Take the evil out the people, they’ll be acting right.
‘Cause both black and white are smokin’ crack tonight.
And only time we chill is when we kill each other.
It takes skill to be real, time to heal each other.
And although it seems heaven sent,
we ain’t ready to see a black President, uhh.
It ain’t a secret don’t conceal the fact…
the penitentiary’s packed, and it’s filled with blacks.
But some things will never change.
Try to show another way, but they stayin’ in the dope game.
Now tell me what’s a mother to do?
Bein’ real don’t appeal to the brother in you.
You gotta operate the easy way.
“I made a G today” But you made it in a sleazy way.
Sellin’ crack to the kids. “I gotta get paid,”
Well hey, well that’s the way it is.
– Tupac Shakur – Changes


This truly is a dangerous time to be alive. Not simply in regard to the countless conflicts that threaten the very fabric of human existence, the growing cloud of climate change, the mountains upon mountains of displaced refugees (see: human beings) currently on the move, in camps with hope slipping from their fingers, but also when we consider how powerful the influencing few are becoming. The power struggle between new and old media rages on and although for me the logical choice to make is to consider the implications, bias, agenda behind the news pieces and opinions, being able to comprehend such a choice is becoming far more complex. From time to time I feel like my skull is being smashed apart by the pressure circulating our airwaves. We’ve been taught to listen since we were youngsters in order to avoid being ignorant and yet we were never taught who it is that we should listen to. The reason? Well, the misused and misconstrued word called ‘bias’, be it political, social or media bias. The objectivity and holier than thou attitudes that certain columnists has contributed to a negative media landscape, with legitimate debate quashed by political agendas and passing off opinion pieces as reverent and sturdy mini-thesises.

I was going to call this article ‘Are we ready for Tupac’s black president?’ as a way of highlighting the implications behind closing our minds and falling into line with the majority without considering how dangerous that idea is. For a long time I have considered the ‘gay footballer’ question closely. Are there gay AFL footballers? Of course. Who are they? Why do I care? I care because of the mystery, the contemplation, the abstract. Will I actually give a shit about the player’s welfare when his identity inevitably comes to the fore? My fear for the gay footballer, in addition to any homosexual, lesbian or transgendered being in the public eye is that they will become a mere figurehead, a point of gossip, a triviality. Maybe I should let them handle for themselves the scrutiny that will come with the moment in time, however I look to Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted to the NFL. His mental health has reportedly capitulated in the light of intense scrutiny and media attention. He didn’t even manage a minute on an NFL field and he became an instant figurehead, a hero to many, a pariah to some, a rebel to others, a disgrace to another group altogether. The sad truth is, his story taught us that we are not ready for an openly gay footballer in the current media climate. That person who remains anonymous knows this, and it truly is decidedly sad. These are the days in which we live. People in the limelight represent something, an agenda, a brand, an idea, an image… We have commoditised human beings. And that’s the trouble I have with looking at the world. Something has changed, I can’t see the deeply personal side of people I don’t know but I can hypothesise and those hypotheticals depress me. All my mind can conjure up when thinking about Michael Sam and the other ‘gay sportsmen/footballers/celebrities’ is this life lying in scrutiny. Maybe others will thrive as the ‘gay footballer’. Maybe they’ll rise above. In my mind, all that happens is the crushing weight is lowered onto their torso. How am I exuding such pessimism about my community and society, when I harbour great personal hope for how I will react when the news comes to the fore? I fear I’ll transcend my own personal beliefs and retain my position on the couch, watching it all unfold and speculating just as ‘the others’ do. Perhaps I’ve just come to fear fear itself.

Michael Sam.

This fear comes to me in different forms. I want to cut myself off from social media when I see people commenting negatively on articles on sporting fixtures floating under the banner of a social cause… The flabbergasted few who are seeing their game threatened by these new trends, this tokenism. Oh the end is fucking nigh! Sport and society are actually linked! What a shock. Fine, fine, I’m an idealist, I believe we can get better as a community if we start to analyse how the acceptance of people as people no matter their title will actually help us. Dislike the individual, don’t dislike the label they put on themselves or have stamped on them by society. I know I can’t cut myself off, particularly because if I did I would be ignoring a chorus of voices and opinions. Just as many would question my beliefs and attitudes, and probably dismiss them, so do I despite the fact that I have consistently preached free thought and the taking into account of varied thought. However, why should I waste my time listening to their voices if they don’t listen to mine? Why, oh why do you howl at me, dastardly brain! The fear of the other. 

How do we continue to champion free thinking and free choice when all of this thought is being pushed onto our plates and our choices are gradually being made for us more and more even when we think we are making the calls? I suppose we all have the choice to dig a little deeper, but with the detriment of this being more time spent searching and more resources utilised on finding the gold. However, if the majority already think the answers are on the table already, why would one go against the grain? Going against the grain comes in three forms in this day and age. The token, gratuitous ‘indie’ desperado behaviour that carries little to no substance, the determined and dogged anti-conformist and of course the James Dean, rebel without a cause, different because they are different, no questions asked. I’m still struggling to figure out if the third actually exists. The fear of hierarchal status.

To be self-effacing for a moment, I would like to think I am James Dean, but in essence I believe I have a foot in both of the formerly mentioned camps, as do many of my peers. We preach our taste in unusual trends, our open-minded approach to fashion, lifestyles and intellectual thought and yet we buckle under societal pressure in accordance with our wanton desire to fit in. The fence sitter. I am a man who resists falling into trodden pathways when comfortable and yet falls back on that natural instinct of an aversion to loneliness. There is that deep insecurity of my intellectual power and critique from my peers that dates back to my high schooling days when I was initially left of centre but started to hide in the shadows in my confused pubescent days as I grew into my manhood. I am certainly not alone, but I can only go on my experience. The scars of not quite fitting in at high school still fill me with uncertainty. So I am most certainly am not the James Dean of my time. I wish I could be. I wish many more of us could be. But I fear we are just as in check with societal norms as our parents were, and their parents were and so on and so forth. The problem with making the choice that is handed to us or actively encouraged or easy to access, however you want to put it, is not that we become conformists or mainstream, it is that on many occasions it sees us slip into the discomfort of comfortableness. By that, I am talking about the uneasiness that comes with making the easy choice. Oxymoron or not, the act of avoiding broaching important topics you should have with the people closest to you in fear of offending them or being offended with their own views is sobering one. Perhaps our social circles would be dramatically reduced if we started talking about our views on climate change, same-sex marriage, the judicial system on a regular basis… It would cause a calamitous reaction within schools in regard to mantras of acceptance of the other side of thought, or perhaps it would open our hearts and minds a little more. Considering the stubbornness and pride many have in their own perceived realities of life, I believe it would probably be more damaging than eye opening unfortunately. What a world it is. The fear of the unknown.

Who are we without intellectual thought? Are we still men, women, humans? Or do we just dissolve into animalism? Our ideas, thoughts, screams and rages are being manipulated in front of our very eyes and the only way we can combat that is through questioning it, rather than just accepting that we are run by those few who parade above us. I’m not asking for a political revolution, I’m asking for a thought revolution. Because we are better than submitting to the pull of gossip and compartmentalising people as mere objects of fascination and spectacle. Or are we? I refuse to chuck you all into the same basket. Stay individual, even just with the little stuff, then maybe we will be ready for a ‘gay footballer’ who is more than just the label that is placed on his forehead, along with all those individuals who equate to more the value the media puts on them.

Connection. The world keeps spinning on its magnificent energy. Share your soul. The fear of losing my compassion…

A subtle hero.

Miguel – What’s normal anyway…

Too proper for the black kids, too black for the Mexicans
Too square to be a hood nigga, what’s normal anyway?
Too opinionated for the pacifist, too out of touch to be in style
Too broke for the rich kids, I don’t know what normal is

What’s normal anyway? What’s normal anyway?
I mean what’s normal anyway? What’s normal anyway?
What’s normal anyway?
Be in a crowd and not feel alone, I look around and not feel alone
I never feel like I belong, I wanna feel like I belong, somewhere
Be in a crowd and not feel alone, I look around and not feel alone
I never feel like I belong, I wanna feel like I belong

Too immoral for the Christians, but too moral for the cut-throat
Too far out for the in crowd, what’s normal anyway?
Too involved in my own life to spend time with my family
Too concerned about what others think



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