The voices of icons like Malcom X and Nina Simone ring truer than ever to many of us. They represent a call to action, to bond with our neighbors, friends, and family to share our stories and perspectives with one another. They inspire us to gather together in the fight to be heard.
After the women’s and civil rights movements of the late 20th century, discrimination didn’t completely go away. It went to a plastic surgeon of sorts. We, as a country, went through a “facelift.” The technology in the 21st century has revealed the “wrinkles”; social media has become today’s truth serum. Emoticons, comments to posts/memes, reposting, retweeting, regramming, and “live” videos reveal that the heart of our society hasn’t changed as much as once perceived.
Taking a look back at our nation post the Obama era, things don’t look that different from when Malcolm spoke, Nina sang, Harvey (Milk) ran for office, or Betty (Friedan) wrote about feminine mysticism. People of color, women, Muslims, and LGBTQ are still trying to secure their place of equal footing under the old red, white, and blue.
Walls are being built (figuratively). Protests continue. Isolationism is deepening. But all is not lost. Once again, we find ourselves at a turning point in our history.
From Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Colin Kaepernick, the new Malcolm’s and Nina’s are gathering and actively leading efforts to shift our national agenda to better reflect and serve our collective society.
As Nina herself once said: “We will shape and mold this country, or it will not be molded or shaped at all anymore. So, I don’t think you have a choice.”
Nina Simone Art Disclaimer: Based on “Nina Simone: 1965” by Ron Kroon; used under Creative Commons license, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL, available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/legalcode. Subject to Creative Commons License, CC BY-SA 3.0 US, available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/