Monday, November 5, 2012

More Than a Woman: A PSA Brought to You by 2Pac

Election Day is tomorrow.
Among issues prevalent and important to me surrounding this years' elections is women's rights.

Really, y'all? We gotta keep talking about this shit? People are still oppressing other people and getting into their personal business? Can't we just live and let live?

Well, Republicans would rather live and let die.

Now before things get heated, let's take a step back, a journey back to 1993. 

Bill Clinton became president. Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic. The North American Fair Trade Agreement passed. And Tupac Shakur released the hit single, "Keep Ya Head Up."

At the age of 21, Tupac spoke deeply to women and youth. 

"They got money for wars, but can't feed the poor"

Nearly a decade after the song's debut and rise on the Billboard charts, the problems Tupac addresses are still the issues we face today. He raps on the struggles of youth in the ghetto, the hardships of being a single mother. 

In the last half of the first verse, respect for women take center stage:

Since we all came from a woman 
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our women 
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women
I think it's time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don't we'll have a race of babies
That hate the ladies that make the babies
And since a man can't make one
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one
So will the real men get up
I know you're fed up ladies, but keep your head up

Growing up, Tupac himself was surrounded by strong women. His mother Afeni Shakur and his aunt Assata Shakur were both prominent members of the Black Panther Party in New York. He maintained a lifelong friendship with Jada Pinkett Smith, who appears in the video for "Keep Ya Head Up." 

While his early life was rich with female influence, 1993 also brought about a sexual assault charge against Tupac. Allegedly he and his crew gang raped a woman in his hotel room. In the end Tupac served 11 months of his up-to-four-and-a-half-years sentence. 

Serious violence followed him everywhere until he was shot to death in September of 1996. There is much controversy over the circumstances of the murder, including conspiracy theories on the identity of the murderer and the possibility that Tupac is in fact still alive. 

Ghost stories aside, "Keep Ya Head Up" samples one of my favorite songs, "Ooh Child" by the Five Stairsteps. 

With such a positive message, it's hard not to believe in the future. When I'm down, "Ooh Child" speaks to me. It feels like someone older and wiser is holding my shoulder, and saying, "It's going to be ok." (Nina Simone does a really beautiful rendition of this song.)

It's disheartening to feel like we're still pushing so hard for change. It's terrifying to think of what will happen if we take steps backwards. 

Whatever happens after tomorrow, be confident that you did your part to change America for the better. Go out there and vote! 

(Voting is easier than you think. If you need tips on how to same-day register, ask me. I'm the queen of procrastination and I just got my shit together today. You can, too!)

I'll leave you with a song --an anthem, really --that makes me cry just thinking about it. 

If you don't believe you can make a difference, think about all of the people just like you who have. Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Sandra Day O'Connor, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Shirin Ebadi, Ida B. Wells...please don't make me keep going. These are just a few, a very small few of the women that have made the world what it is today. They were and are real women with real problems that they've had to face, and still found time to improve the lives of others. You don't need a college degree or position of high power to do that. You just need your voice.

More than women, we are individuals who care for each other and need to stand together. Keep your head up.

So much love.