This is (was?) an activist blog, and I saw these two interesting activism articles in the Times this week:
1. Just Don’t Call Her Che: an article about Camila Vallejo Dowling, who is leading hundreds of people for education reform in Chile. According to the article, she beats senators in debates on prime time TV and leads protests with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators. According to the article, she’s the world’s most famous student leader and has the governmment going crazy over how to deal with the issues. Chile, according to the article, is economically successful, and she has still managed to pull people away from their daily lives and get an audience.
I can say honestly that I wish I knew more about how other countries operate. It’s one thing to say, for example, that we like the way Sweden mandates maternity and paternity leave, or how we love Canadian healthcare. It would be better to understand the system from a closer perspective. Is the Chilean educational system really so unfair that people follow Camila Vallejo? Or is this an example of exceptional leadership? I will say that I can’t imagine an American 23 year old going head-to-head with a U.S. Senator in a debate without getting himself/herself whooped, so major props to her!
Too bad I don’t understand the Spanish. Nottyboy, what’s she saying?
2. The Mixtape of the Revolution talks about how hip hop is one of the most potent forces in politics in other countries. The article opens:
DEF JAM will probably never sign them, but Cheikh Oumar Cyrille Touré, from a small town about 100 miles southeast of Dakar, Senegal, and Hamada Ben Amor, a 22-year-old man from a port city 170 miles southeast of Tunis, may be two of the most influential rappers in the history of hip-hop.
Pretty heady stuff.
Someone once asked me: What is activism? I said something along the lines of “creating change that influences a lot of people.” Whether we’re trying to create art outside of The Typical, or whether we’re trying to get people to think differently or whether we’re trying to invest money responsibly, I think that’s the nature of activism.
I do have to say–life looks a lot more dramatic in other places of the world. 200,000 people marching? A hip hop artist whose words are actually getting government to take notice? American students don’t march much these days. And the last time an American politician paid attention to a hip hop artist was when Kanye said that George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people! Whatever happened to this kind of activism in America?