Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ripple Effect Concert

What: Ripple Effect Concert
Where: Lawn of Capitol St. Paul, MN
When: September 2, 2008

I am glad that I attended the RNC event with our class on September 2nd because I’ve never been to anything like that before and the experience that I got out of it was just thrilling. For some reason, I expected there to be more people and less police guards, except it was quite the opposite. Although there was a good amount of people at the concert, what got my attention, and kept me cautious and alert throughout the evening was not the different crowds of people or the anarchist, but the riot police and the snipers. There were so many of them, they were intimidating. They stood around the lawn with dark shades, arms crossed, protective gear, and guns. Ironically, the supposed to be “safe space” ended up being very unsafe for me, at least.

Aside from the whole “riot police” experience, I had a great time listening to Davy D and Rosa Clemente talk about their political views and their experience in the Hip Hop industry. Davy D, who is a Hip Hop historian, journalist, and community activist, talked about how our news coverage is saturated and misrepresented through the media. He provided us with some “behind the scene” with radio stations and the role that power and money play in how music is disperse. Everything is done in a very systematic and hierarchical way, in which only the most powerful and the richest have the right to decide what’s going to be broadcasted on radios and televisions. He then went on to talk about how the media (which are run by heterosexual elite white men) can easily alter our perceptions because of misrepresentations.

Rosa Clemente, on the other hand, is just phenomenon. I am so impressed with her accomplishment and her courage to be Vice President for the Green Party, running alongside Cynthia Mckinney, who is also a woman of color. Rosa’s talk was eye-opening, especially when she talked about her experience in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and having been the only journalist of color there to document what could have easily been covered up by our homogenous media. Rosa makes it clear that her campaign is about the poor people, many of whom are unable to speak for themselves. I was impressed with her passion and her eagerness to grow the Green Party. With the presidential election coming up, we’ve seen a lot of interesting things happening. First, there’s Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama, one of the first woman and African American to be running for a presidential seat. Then, we have Rosa Clemente and Cynthia McKinney running for the Green Party. Now, we have Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate for the Republican Party. There’s no doubt that this year is the year of “Change” as Obama’s campaign slogan says. Despite the media’s negative representation of women, Rosa and Cynthia (as well as Hillary and Sarah) have already shown us that women are just as capable as men to run for political positions.

As a result, after hearing Davy D and Rosa Clemente talk, I felt hopeful about the future. I’m proud that there are intelligent and courageous people of color like Davy D and Rosa Clemente who have stood up to do something that they’re passionate about –that being, speaking for those who can’t speak and fighting for justice and equality. In addition, this class has made me so much more aware of media representation and the effects that it has on our perceptions.

Event Analysis: march on the RNC

September 1 I attended the major march against the RNC. I always love being part of big protests, because there is such a feeling of solidarity and hopefulness. The current administration might be ridiculously messed up, but at the protest I knew that others felt the same way, and maybe with the next election shit can change. It’s also interesting, because most big protests attract a wide range of people, and it becomes about much more than just, say, the RNC. There were Obama people there, Green party people there, anarchists there, people protesting against racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, people demanding an end to human rights abuses, ignorance of Dar Fur and Palestine, people drawing attention to the situation in Israel, people against the war on Iraq, people promoting alternative energy, people promoting alternative media…the list goes on and on. A protest like this becomes a place where people who disagree with general systems and attitudes of our society can come, and find some sense of solidarity. Events like this draw a more liberal crowd, so pretty much every liberal idea and desire is represented.
The RNC protest was hot, but quite enjoyable. We marched within a larger group of students from all over the country, so I felt even further connected with those I marched around. Everyone is excited at a protest, but I think students even more so, because we are so idealistic and passionate about everything. We were really enthusiastic when doing all of the chants, and there were a few new ones I’d never heard of (like “Stand up, sit down, there’s an anti-war movement in this town,” when we would crouch down and then stand up).
The snipers on the rooftops, riot police blocking off streets and huge black metal corrals we had to march through were chilling. I’ve been to quite a few protests, but never any with “security” that intense. At one point we started chanting “Tell me what a police state looks like! This is what a police state looks like!” Although I know that the United States has broken laws and the Geneva conventions willy-nilly, and we are not exactly an example of a perfect democracy, usually I only hear about these practices in the newspaper. Seeing measures so blatant and so sinister in my face really made me worry about the situation that our country is in, and disgusted at what we have become.
Most of the chanting was fun, but there were a couple that I had a problem with. One chant I always cringe at is the simple “one, two, three, four, we don’t want your fucking war.” I understand people’s anger and their desire to be heard and to intense, but I think it reinforces the idea that us protesters (especially students) are just angry, crude, unprofessional, time-wasters. There are also often children at these events, and it is usually so easy to simply say “oil war” or “racist war” instead of using crude language in front of young children. I also did not agree with the chant “hey hey, ho ho, the RNC has got to go.” The RNC has a right to be here, and although I strongly disagree with most everything they do, I disagree with their beliefs and practices, not their right to be in St. Paul. I love the chants, but some of them could be better thought-out.

On Campus Event: TODAY!

Join the Lealtad-Suzuki Center for the first Tapas Discussion of the Year!

THE TAPAS SERIES: "Media Representations in the Presidential Election
(a joint collaboration with Xpressions)

Tuesday, September 30
Cultural House (37 Macalester Street)

Recent discussions about the current presidential election have raised
important questions of identity and authenticity. Tapas and Xpressions
invite you to join us to discuss the representation of presidential
candidates through the framework of political cartoons. We will explore
questions of audience, context and representation in the depiction of
presidential nominees John McCain and Barack Obama in our media, our
discourse and in our minds.

The Tapas Series is a monthly student-facilitated conversation highlighting
different issues around multiculturalism and diversity that are pertinent to
the Macalester community. Everyone is Welcome, and tapas will be provided.
We hope to see you there!
Keren Yohannes and Angela Gutierrez
Lealtad-Suzuki Student Assistants

Monday, September 29, 2008

Gender Queering: Drag as Activism

Event: Dykes Do Drag @ the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater

Some friends and I went to Dykes Do Drag a couple of weeks ago and watched several people perform gender. First of all, never had I ever...prior to about a month ago...viewed gender as being performative. However, as the night progressed we watched several people play with gender and sexuality in a variety of ways. While I have also been subjected of course to the gender binary that our society enforces, I have had moments where I wondered to myself things like, "why do females have to shave everything?" or "why can't I play with Barbies and my batman figurines. I guess I just found comfort, solace even, if that's the right word, in seeing gender being performed and exhibited in ways that "go against the grain" if you will.

The show consisted of several performers in skits, songs, and dialogues. From the little bit of knowledge I had acquired from just under a month of class, I found myself trying to analyze certain aspects of the show. In the end, I suppose I realized just how powerful of a venue drag shows and any type of gender performance can be when they are used as activist mediums. I think part of why it is powerful is because it forces people to question what they know and it really makes them think. Because in a show like Dykes Do Drag, the gender binary is drastically blurred and you often times find yourself wondering how you're going to classify a certain performer. Really, at the end of it all you just have to accept that people aren't going to fit into the categories that society has constructed. I think that is what's key in all of this, and Dykes Do Drag was especially effective in the way that it didn't allow for the categorization of it's performers beyond being able to label them as gender queer perhaps.

“Going Home Ain’t Always Easy: Southern (Dis) Comfort and the Politics of Performing History.”

As part of the first annual El Kati Distinguished Lectureship in American Studies on Sunday, Professor E. Patrick Johnson from Northwestern University gave a lecture entitled “Going Home Ain’t Always Easy: Southern (Dis) Comfort and the Politics of Performing History.” It was phenomenal! In discussing the oral history he compiled – Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South – Professor Johnson discussed both the unique intersectionality of being gay/queer, black, and southern as well as the methodology he employed for his work.
Johnson began by discussing how southern culture views and treats “transgressions” – the main indiscretions being drinking, gambling, adultery, and homosexuality. As he put it, the southern codes of gentility and complicity take precedence over naming desire and “flaunting that transgression.” He acknowledged that he himself identifies his Achilles heel as a black southern responsibility to conceal and be respectable – as he noted, “I cannot go home as I am.”
Although I’ve heard professorial candidates and lecturers discuss their position and privilege in academic work before, Dr. Johnson’s candor and honesty with regard to his role as a researcher served as an important lesson in positioning oneself in academic research. He discussed both the divergence of experience between himself and the individuals in the book (the “not me”) as well as the shared experiences (“the not not me”). Johnson examined how a variety of factors – class, institutional affiliation, being a public figure, his personal politics, his desire to debunk public views of being a gay, black man, and his fears of homophobic violence shaped how he approached his work.
The lecture also dealt with the relationship between the ‘researcher’ and the ‘researched’; as Johnson noted, criticism has been issued to academics for the colonial gaze they impose on those individuals whose stories they attempt to tell. Although I haven’t worked with critical ethnography, I gained an understanding of how it serves as a responsible methodology for engaging the oral histories of the individuals included in Sweet Tea. Professor Johnson described this methodology – which he called dialogical performance or co-performative critical ethnography, as relational and emotional, a process by which the researcher can performatively engage with and to the other as a means of preserving their stories, highlighting their narratives’ complicated nuances and capture the performative nature of southern speech and African American culture in the south.
I found Johnson’s mention of the role of the women in the community fascinating. He acknowledged the importance of the contact information and gossip these women offered him in his research, joking that they were not afraid to be blunt about exactly which men had engaged in extramarital affairs with other men. I love the way that Johnson framed their role in this process; instead of characterizing their gossip as “hearsay,” Johnson employs John Howard’s term “twice-told stories” to describe this custom, a practice Johnson argued is essential to the recuperation of queer histories.

Ripple Effect Concert

Event: Ripple Effect
Date: 2 September 2008
Location: Lawn of Capitol, Saint Paul MN

The RNC’s choice of Saint Paul this election offered many opportunities to participate in activist events. The Ripple Effect was a free concert sponsored by Substance. One of the first things I noticed at the concert was the words in big bold letters surrounding the stage “Beyond the Convention, Beyond Partisanship.” The message throughout this event seemed to be encouraging peace and environmental conscientiousness. Unfortunately the peaceful atmosphere was invaded by the presence of hundreds of police officers, many in riot gear, ready to jump on any chance to interrupt the event. There were many booths set up representing many organizations: from the Sierra Club to Code Pink. There were people encouraging the use of tap water instead of bottled water, and a table set up with information about EXCO the experimental college. I was asked to sign a petition about healthcare, and people were walking around with stickers saying, “Make-out, not war!”
There were many interesting artists performing such as Dead Prez and Michael Franti. There was, however only one female artist performing. The person announcing the artists was also female, but it very much seemed like they were the “token” women. The people attending the event were mostly young, many representing a “counter culture” with dyed hair and other non-mainstream ways of expressing themselves. For the most part I would guess that a majority of the audience were students, and there was not much class diversity. I also saw very little racial diversity. I did however see many young white people meditating on the grass in the middle of a huge crowd. There was also juggling and incense. There were many people smoking a variety of things while the police looked on from the fringes and the snipers watched from above.
Rosa Clemente, the VP candidate for the Green Party and manager of Dead Prez, and Dead Prez were going from the concert to a march for poor people. Students at this event were filming a documentary about the RNC and the activities surrounding it. For many of the participants this was just the second day of activism against the RNC, but for me it represented a unique opportunity to view activism in action in my own backyard.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

History, Gender and Computing (or why is it always "the tech GUY")

This summer I attended a History, Gender and Computing Conference at the University of Minnesota (http://www.tc.umn.edu/~tmisa//gender/). While I was there covering the story for my internship at a freelance journalism firm, I was instantly gripped by the talks and presentations from some of the brightest minds in computer studies and mechanics.

First came the astonishing statistics: in 1984 the proportion of women awarded Bachelors Degree's in Computer Science was 37%. But since that peak the numbers have been decreasing and in 2004 only 25% of those degrees were awarded to women. At a time when women are increasingly making their mark in every other scientific profession, computer science is lagging behind. All other STEM courses have seen a steady increase in female graduates but the numbers in computer science are actually falling.

Caroline Hayes, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, put it succinctly in her presentation: ““In 1974 it [Computer Science] was an esoteric field graduating less than 5,000 Bachelors of Science. Thirty-plus years later it has become a popular profession having international economic importance, graduating almost 60,000 bachelors in 2004. However, Computer Science has experienced growing pains, particularly with respect to the representation of women”

The second notable presentation concerned the history of women in computing. The first general purpose computer in history, The ENIAC, had many women programmers on board. Yet even these extraordinary women are misrepresented. While their male colleagues are referred by name, the women are given short shrift and collectively referred to as 'the ENIAC girls'. The media at time even completely neglected to mention them, photographs of the programmers were actually cropped to include only the males.

The real kick in the teeth is that the original “computer's” were women! The word was used to describe women who would compute numbers and physically do the data entry work before a mechanical computer was ever built.

The final, and most interesting, presentation concerned the role of advertising in creating gender inequalities. Men and women occupy different roles in computer adverts. For example, men are usually shown sitting next to computer and using a phone or in a relaxed posture with a single finger on the mouse. Men are rarely portrayed with two hands on the keyboard because that is, in conventional thought, a 'womans job'.

As another visual division of labor, women are typically shown doing the manual labor of printing while men are doing the actual creation. Printers and women have a curios connection in advertisement. Printers are advertised with photographs of attractive and scantily clad women being printed out in beautiful colors from the printers.

The objective of engendering a computer in this way is to divide it among male and female. Women are kept at a distance by relating them to peripheral devices (printers and keyboards for example), while the heart of the computer, the hard drive, is reserved for the 'intelligent' male.

E. Patrick Johnson Lecture "Going Home Ain't Always Easy..."

This afternoon I had the opportunity to attend E. Patrick Johnson’s lecture called "Going Home Ain't Always Easy: Southern (Dis) Comfort and the Politics of Performing History". The lecture was part of the El Kati Distinguished Lectureship in American Studies Series and was held in the Weyerhaeuser boardroom.

A good deal of the material presented in the lecture dealt with material from Johnson’s recently published book, “Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South”. The oral histories that Johnson lectured on are the heart of this book, as was it the heart of this afternoon’s lecture.

From what I could gather from the lecture, Johnson also has been performing the ethnographic interviews/oral histories that he gathered for “Sweet Tea”. I’m not entirely sure about the specifics on this, but I think the show is in a one man show format, which is really cool considering the awesomeness that I got to hear this afternoon.

In his lecture Johnson discussed the travails of conducting oral histories, which included issues of positionality, and what it means to perform (in essence reproduce in theater) the oral histories he has conducted.

Johnson also reflected on a type of passive aggressive stance displayed towards taboo issues and transgressions peculiar to the American South. Johnson concludes that this passive aggressive stance (best put in Johnson’s own words as “keeping things hidden in plain sight”) also helps to uphold the continued oppression of people who identify as LGBT in the black community.

The lecture as a whole was centered on the performance of one of the interviews conducted by Johnson with a transgender black man named Charles, Chaz or Chastity. By choosing not to go through with gender reassignment surgery, Chaz (who was explained by Johnson to be a woman Monday to Saturday, but wearing a suit to church on Sunday) was presented as breaking through the passive aggressive sort of containment that Johnson talked about as being peculiar to the American South.

I can’t realistically cover all of what was said by Professor Johnson, and my lack of knowledge about performance theory and ethnography left me kind of in the dark at times during the lecture, but it was a good lecture (and a great turnout).

Video Bonus: bell hooks "Cultural Criticism and Transformation"

part one

part two

part three

I'm going to the movies (Monday, Uptown, 2pm) - Wanna come?

Landmark Lagoon Cinema
1320 Lagoon Avenue, Minneapolis, MN, USA
(612) 825-6006
2:10 4:40 7:20 10:00pm

Trouble the Water opens the day before Katrina makes landfall, just blocks away from the French Quarter but far from the New Orleans that tourists know. Kimberly Rivers Roberts is turning her video camera on herself and her 9th Ward neighbors trapped in the city. “It’s going to be a day to remember,” Kim says excitedly into her new camera as the storm is brewing. It’s her first time shooting video and it’s rough, jumpy but dense with reality. Kim’s playful home-grown newscast tone grinds against the audience’s knowledge that hell is just hours away. There is no way for the audience to warn her. And for New Orleans’ poor, there is nowhere to run.


Friday, September 26, 2008

ad analysis: Campbell Soup

I looked through O, the Oprah magazine for an ad, because I wanted to show how a magazine targeted toward women that has the tagline of "Live Your Best Life" and headlines such as "You don't have to be thin to be gorgeous," "Getting Good at Love," "The Happiness Plan", also has tons of ads that reinforce everything the articles claim to combat. Why have a huge headlining story about body image and embracing all body types, with ads on every other page that promote weight loss programs and cosmetic surgery? Oprah magazine seems to be targeted at middle-class women by the cost of the items they promote and some of the issues they address, such as how to get promotions when working corporate jobs. The ad I picked is for Campbell Soup. The headline says: "Help Michelle get from lunch to dinner without stuffing her face with stuff." The rest of the page is a maze in the shape of a bag of chips, where the starting point is Lunch and the end is Dinner. In the middle of the maze is a can of Campbell soup, which they are marketing as the "between-meal meal" that is under 100 calories.
I think the ad is meant to be amusing or funny, but I find the tone of the headline nasty and demeaning. The headline "Help Michelle get from lunch to dinner without stuffing her face" portrays women as having no self-control and encourages and normalizes dieting, the super thin standard of beauty, and the unhealthy eating behavior found in a lot of women who diet. It is also infantilizing—Michelle can't help herself, so you should help her by navigating through the maze drawing in the ad, which is reminiscent of childhood games. It reinforces the idea that women should have a negative relationship with food, and feeds the shame that many women feel about their eating habits, or about being overweight.
I think this ad is one of the many ways that cultural norms of beauty and desirability are enforced through shaming and negatively framing anyone who isn't really thin. Being inundated in ads like this results in at the worst eating disorders, and at best, leads to general body image insecurities and negative feelings about food.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Come hear the stories of two individuals who have been personally impacted by political violence in Colombia, and who have dedicated their lives to achieving a peacefully negotiated “Humanitarian Accord” to end the decades of civil conflict in Colombia.

Consuelo González de Perdomo has devoted her entire life to political and social work in the department of Huila. Most recently she was elected to serve in the Colombian Congress. As a member of Congress she was kidnapped on September 10, 2001, by the FARC. For 6 years and 4 months she was part of a group of hostages who the guerrillas proposed to release in the “humanitarian accord.” On January 10, 2008, she was unilaterally released by the FARC, yet from that day on she has said that she will not be free until all those who continue to suffer the tragedy of kidnapping have returned to their homes.

Gustavo Moncayo, a high school teacher from the southern province of Nariño, led a walk of approximately 600 miles through Colombia to promote the “humanitarian accord” to secure the release of the many persons, including his son Pablo Emilio. Prof. Moncayo is widely known as "The Peace Walker" in Colombia for his efforts in raising awareness of the hostage situation in Colombia and promoting a politically negotiated solution to this country's protracted internal armed conflict. He is in the US to raise awareness of the plight of the hostages and to ask US policymakers and civil society to work with Colombians for an end to the conflict.

MON. SEPT. 29th, 10-11:30am
University of Minnesota
Wulling Hall—Room 250
86 Pleasant St. SE, Mpls.

Event hosted by: the College of Education and Human Development
Speaking tour sponsored by: United Steelworkers Associate Member Program, Lutheran World Relief and Witness for Peace-Upper Midwest.


WSAC's event for Discover Exceptional Women Week, "Sex Ed for Everyone" will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 6pm in the Coffman Theater. Our exclusive, entertaining and educational sex ed videos will debut and a discussion of the importance of comprehensive sex education in schools will follow. Please join us next Wednesday in the theater for laughs,
refreshments, and lively discussion!

Sex Ed for Everyone! (Exceptional Women's Week)
Wednesday, Oct. 1
6 PM
CMU Theater
University of Minnesota
Info: wsac@umn.edu


The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally Programs Office is sponsoring "GLBT Politics: equality or division?". This is a lecture by Suzanne Pharr, author of "Homophobia: a weapon of sexism".

GLBT Politics Lecture
Thursday, Oct. 2
7:30 PM
3M Auditorium in Carlson School of Management
University of Minnesota


Kate Borstein is coming to campus! Kate is a transgender author, playwright, performance artist and gender theorist. There will be a variety of events during the course of Kate's visit to Minneapolis, including the Masquerade Dinner and open house, below.

Masquerade Dinner: Unmasking our Many Genders
Monday, Oct. 20
6:30 PM
Pi Bar & Restaurant (2532 25th Ave S, MPLS)
Suggested donation ($25-125)
Register at www.mntranshealth.org or call 612.823.1152

Open House and Performance with Kate Borstein
Tuesday, Oct. 21
4:30 PM open house - 7 PM performance
St. Paul Student Center - Northstar Ballroom

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FREE event at the U: Public Art and Democracy

"Public Art and Democracy"

Saturday, September 27, 2008
9:00 AM - 8:00 PM

Free and open to the public! Lunch provided - register at ias@umn.edu or 612-626-5054

Room 275
Nicholson Hall
Minneapolis Campus

Institute for Advanced Study, 612-626-5054

The conference is occasioned by the confluence of four important events affecting the Twin Cities: Speaking of Home, artist Nancy Ann Coyne's photographic public artwork exploring the meaning of home, acculturation, and alienation for new Americans in the Twin Cities; the 30th anniversary of Forecast Public Art, a Twin Cities-based non-profit organization; the need for conversations about public engagement with the political process arising in the wake of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions; and the Minnesota Sesquicentennial. Four panels throughout the day examine the topic of public space and artistic intervention into it, raising questions about the politics of access to space and issues of free speech. Political scientists, artists, architects, designers, activists, and arts administrators will discuss such questions as: What makes a public space public? How can public art instigate civic discourse? How can artists and designers working within constraints create more meaningful public spaces?

Saturday morning sessions:Public/Private Space
9:00 Privatizing Public Space: Skyways, Malls, and Plazas (Jennifer Yoos, Kristine Miller and Vincent James)

10:45 Social Space: Designing for Civic Dialogues (Margaret Kohn, Dara Strolovitch, Sonja Kuftinec)

12:15 Lunch and discussion on arts activities at the two political conventions, led by Marlina Gonzalez.

Saturday afternoon sessions: Artistic Interventions in Public Space
1:45 Public Art as Activism and the Limits of Free Expression (Suzanne Lacy, Jack Becker, Eiko Otake, Ananya Chatterjea)

3:30 Photography in Public (George Slade, Nancy Ann Coyne, Wing Young Huie)

5:15 Conference wrap up with Tom Fisher and Gail Dubrow.

Funding provided by McKnight Events and Initiatives.

Sponsored By: Institute for Advanced Study
Additional Sponsors: College of Design
Department of Art

Events at Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis

@ Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, 55408

GLBT Reading Series

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 7:00 PM at Intermedia Arts 2822 Lyndale Ave. S, Minneapolis MN 55408 Free and open to the public

Hosted by John Medeiros and Andrea Jenkins

REBECCA FROST. Can a bi-girl who is (happily) married to a het guy (for a really long time) still be a bi-girl? You betcha. Rebecca Frost is used to crossing supposed lines for good reasons, and continued to do so right up through her recent graduation with an MFA in Writing from Hamline University, as she kept her feet planted in several genres at once. Now, fully commenced, Rebecca remains committed to straddling lines, and standing up for our full, juicy, embodied, genius selves! Her thesis novel, Love, House, brings together eclectic characters who find home in an elegant, ramshackle queer household in Powderhorn neighborhood. Her poems have been published in Grounds for Peace, Close to the Ground, Currents, two mnartists What Light contests, and Writers Rising Up: an online journal, as well as a prizewinning broadside. A veteran performer, Rebecca teaches writers to overcome fears of reading (and doing anything else) in public. Contact her via her webiste: www.embodiedarts.com.

MELANIE HOFFERT grew up on a small grain farm near Wyndmere, North Dakota and currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She graduated in 2008 with her MFA in creative non-fiction from Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Her essay, Going Home, won the 2006 Creative Non-Fiction award by the Baltimore Review where it was also published. Additionally, the chapter, The Allure of Grain Trucks was selected as a 2008 Finalist for the Writers at Work Fellowship Competition. She is currently finishing her first book entitled, The Silent Land: A Memoir about God, Gays, and Good North Dakotans, which recently received Hamline’s Outstanding Thesis Award. The Silent Land explores what it means to be part of the last generation to leave the land, the gravel roads, Lutheran churches, and open fields behind. Through an exploration of the metaphorical parallels between the people of the prairie and the rural landscape, the book is also a meditation on the deep beauty and pain of silence.

Funds for this activity are provided by the COMPAS Community Art Program through a grant from the McKnight Foundation. The Carol Connolly Reading Series is sponsored in part by The Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, DreamHaven Books, Patrick's Cabaret, SF Minnesota, and the University Club of Saint Paul.

Young Writers!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008 6-8 PM at Intermedia Arts 2822 Lyndale Ave. S, Minneapolis MN 55408 $2 suggested donation for pizza

This monthly gathering is the spot for creative young voices! A place for young writers (ages 19 and under) to meet other youth writers, workshop their writing, work with local artists, participate in public literary readings and have fun! Grab your notebook and head over to Intermedia Arts to find out what Young Writers! is all about.

Beyond the Pure: Readings by Writers of Color

Thursday, October 9, 2008 7:00 PM at Intermedia Arts 2822 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis Free; wine & beer reception to follow

Curated by Julie Bates & Carolyn Holbrook; hosted by Carolyn Holbrook

IBé was born in Guinea, and grew up between Sierra Leone, Chicago, St. Cloud, and the Twin Cities. Quite naturally, he lives in the Middle of the Atlantic…with a mailing address in Minneapolis, MN. Among others, he writes about the African Experience, both in Africa and in America. Bridge Across Atlantic, his first collection of poems, is a small dose of these stories.

Bao Phi has been a performance poet since 1991. A two-time Minnesota Grand Slam champion and a National Poetry Slam finalist, Bao Phi has appeared on HBO Presents Russell Simmons Def Poetry, and a poem of his appeared in the 2006 Best American Poetry anthology. He has performed in venues and schools across the country, from the Nuyorican Poets Café to the University of California, Berkeley. Currently he continues to perform across the country, remains active as an Asian American community organizer, and works at the Loft, where he creates and operates programs for artists and audiences of color.

Sun Yung Shin is a 2007 Bush Artist Fellow for Literature and author of the collection of poems Skirt Full of Black (Coffee House Press 2007); co-editor of Outsiders Within: Writings on Transracial Adoption; (South End Press 2006) and author of Cooper’s Lesson (Children's Book Press 2004), a bilingual Korean/English illustrated book for children. She's currently working on her second book of poems with the working title The Invisible Choir and a memoir of her immigration and naturalization. Her website is www.sunyungshin.com.

Is it sex or shopping? Adbust

After a lingering shot on the large "Net-A-Porter.com" bag and an expensive bedside floral arrangement, the final shots of the text of the ad appear. In rapid succession they read: "ARE YOU?" and announce the name of the online shopping website as well as many haute couture and high fashion label names. The full text of the ad reads: "In The Bedroom, Women Are Doing It Everywhere, Are You?" The website, shown here in picture form, reads "Net-a-porter is driving a global shopping phenomenon and everyone who is anyone is doing it wherever the mood takes them. Are you?" This text, surrounded by emaciated, mostly white women strutting their stuff on a runway, paired with the images of their video exemplify the commodification of the image they want to sell- a white woman, wealthy enough to buy couture whenever and wherever she pleases, to the extent that she is wealthy enough to throw it around her bedroom as if it is disposable. This woman is interested in shopping and is motivated by the collective conscious that is a part of the "global shopping phenomenon," not in any other pursuits. And believe it or not you can BUY your way into this lifestyle, just by "Clicking to Shop!" This ideal of conspicuous consumption shows how capitalism is at the center of the degradation of all women into having a gendered love of shopping. 

By framing this scene in the bedroom and by displaying discarded clothing strewn about, the ad implies female nudity and sex. This conflation of shopping and insinuated sexual activity equates the act of and spoils of shopping with women's sexual pleasure "in the bedroom." It also traps women's activities within the bedroom or the realm of shopping. The ad doesn't contain any people or artifacts to suggest who inhabits this bedroom, just anonymous couture-label attire. The universality of this scene, as well as the text of the website itself ("everyone who is anyone") extends and forces these desires on every woman, regardless of class, race or opinion of couture clothing. Women who don't fit into the label they're selling-white, affluent, feminine and obsessed with shopping- are suddenly inadequate, and lucky thing is, Net-a-porter has just what you need to measure up. 

View image HERE

Student Rush Tickets at the Ordway

Lots of great shows at the Ordway:

Student Tickets: INFO HERE

Events at the U: Discover Exceptional Women


Monday, September 22, 2008

Deborah E. Powell Center for Women’s Health
The 5th Annual Women's Health Research Conference
The purpose of the resource fair is to bring together university and community women’s health resources to facilitate relationship building. The overall focus of the 2008 conference is to highlight developments in women’s reproductive health but there will be research posters presented on other women’s health topics as well. The keynote speaker is David Savitz, PhD, Director of the Center of Excellence in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Disease Prevention at Mount Sinai University. He will speak on the “Environmental Influences on Reproductive Health.” A range of women’s health issues will be covered including breast cancer, mental health, cardiovascular disease and teen pregnancy.
9am-3pm, McNamara Alumni Center
FFI: http://www.womenshealth.umn.edu

Coalition for a Respectful U
First Meeting of the Semester
The Coalition is a group designed for social justice allies and advocates across colleges, departments, positions, and identities committed to a safe and inclusive campus climate for all students and employees. Meetings are used for the sharing of campus climate information and initiatives, providing support and networking to those committed to social justice, and to increase collaboration between University entities.
12:00–1:30pm, 150 Ford Hall
FFI: Peg Lonnquist at pegquist@umn.edu or Jerie Smith at smith449@umn.edu, Co-Chairs

Women’s Center
Courtney Martin, “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters”
Author/journalist Courtney E. Martin presents a lecture “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters,” about her book of the same name. Filled with information from expert psychologists and hundreds of interviews with women with eating disorders, Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters is a wake-up call to women of all ages and races to recognize the epidemic of eating disorders and what it's doing to them, their daughters, friends, and relatives. Courtney Martin argues passionately that women must commit themselves to developing new attitudes about their bodies, and redirect the negative energy they spend on denying themselves contentment in order to become re-engaged with the possibilities of a better life.
Reception and book-signing follows the lecture.
6:30pm, 25 Mondale Hall (Law School)
FFI: Women's Center, women@umn.edu

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Boynton Health Service/Department of Recreational Sports
Positive Body Image Information Fair
Gather information about strategies to improve body image and sign a "No-Weigh Declaration of Independence from Dieting.” Educate yourself about media influence on body image and become an advocate for positive messages. Learn more about the concepts of body mass index and body composition and how they can help you to assess your health risk while embracing your unique body shape.
11am-1pm, University Recreation Center
FFI: Annette Biggs, Recreational Sports, biggs010@umn.edu

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

CSBU Women’s Action Network
Kick-Off Reception (Minneapolis)
11:30am-1:00pm, Coffman Memorial Union, Mississippi Room
FFI: Sonnia Peters, CSBU-WAN Chair pete5555@umn.edu

International Student & Scholar Services
A Showcase of Intercultural Programs by International Women
Come and learn what U of MN students have been able to do on this campus, in the community, and beyond! Through the International Student & Scholar Services Culture Corps program, students propose, design, and implement projects to internationalize the University. This panel of international women will share what their projects are, what they have contributed to the University, and insights gained about the U.S. and the University. Come, learn, and be amazed!
12:00-2:00pm, 110 Heller Hall
FFI: Barbara Kappler, ISSS, bkappler@umn.edu

Center on Women and Public Policy
Front Runners: Women With Political Ambition
Front Runners: Women with Political Ambition meets monthly for networking, inspiration, strategizing, skill building, and peer support. Women candidates, campaign managers, elected officials, and others will help participants develop and implement a long-term plan to be prepared to run for office. We’ll have some light refreshments, hear from other political women, support each other, and develop and put into place individual plans.
6pm, 205 Hubert H. Humphrey Center
FFI: http://www.hhh.umn.edu/centers/wpp/front_runners.html

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Career/Life Alliance Services, Inc.
Women’s Work is Never Done: How to Balance Work & Life
Being able to fit everything into the workday is not a matter of time, it is a matter of choice. It is up to you to decide how to use your resources and what to do with the hours in the day. So, if you want to create a better balance and achieve your priorities please join us for this seminar provided by Career/Life Alliance Services, Inc. This seminar will cover what Work/Life balance really is and what you need to help better manage your life.
12:00-1:00pm, 43 Rapson Hall
FFI: Kathy Kacher, kkacher@clalliance.com

Friday, September 26, 2008

Women’s Center
Talk and Tea: How to Succeed as a Woman Student On Campus
Get the academic year off to a good start and hear from other women students about success strategies in this interactive workshop! 12:00-1:00pm, 152 Klaeber Court
FFI: Women’s Center, women@umn.edu

Monday, September 29, 2008

Aurora Center for Advocacy & Education
Developing Women’s Leadership Through Volunteerism
This workshop will engage participants in a discussion about training, supervising, and working with student volunteers at an on-campus violence prevention and intervention center. The Aurora Center works with approximately thirty volunteers each year and provides them with opportunities to practice professional skills and become leaders in the movement to end violence against women on campus. The young women who become engaged in this difficult work often report that their involvement has changed their lives, and the staff of Aurora testify that the students themselves affect the both the present and future direction of the Center. This workshop will include reflection on the nearly two decades of building a volunteer program and will include the voices of both staff and volunteers.
12:00-1:00pm, N101 Boynton Health Service
FFI: Roberta Gibbons, gibbo005@umn.edu

Student Parent HELP Center
An Exceptional Start: Creating a Positive Environment for Mothers Who Breastfeed
Time TBD, Location TBD
FFI: Susan Warfield, warfi002@umn.edu

Continuing Medical Education
Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women’s Health 39th Annual Autumn Seminar
This continuing medical education conference is dedicated to: updating community physicians and providing a forum for discussion on the topic of women's health; imparting cutting edge knowledge from subject matter experts; being a venue for cross sub-specialty communication and sharing of best practices; reporting on new research findings and innovations in patient care. This seminar would be ideal for specialists in obstetrics and gynecology, family physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and other health professionals involved in the field of women's health.
8am-5pm, The Depot Hotel, Minneapolis
FFI: http://www.cme.umn.edu

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Continuing Medical Education
Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women’s Health 39th Annual Autumn Seminar
This continuing medical education conference is dedicated to: updating community physicians and providing a forum for discussion on the topic of women's health; imparting cutting edge knowledge from subject matter experts; being a venue for cross sub-specialty communication and sharing of best practices; reporting on new research findings and innovations in patient care. This seminar would be ideal for specialists in obstetrics and gynecology, family physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and other health professionals involved in the field of women's health.
8am-5pm, The Depot Hotel, Minneapolis
FFI: http://www.cme.umn.edu or Sue Marshall at marsh068@umn.edu

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

CSBU Women’s Action Network
Kick-Off Reception (St. Paul)
11:30am-1:00pm, St. Paul Student Center, Minnesota Commons
FFI: Sonnia Peters, CSBU-WAN Chair pete5555@umn.edu

Women’s Faculty Cabinet
Fall Reception
3:30-5:30pm, Campus Club
FFI: Women's Faculty Cabinet, wfc@umn.edu

Women’s Student Activist Collective
Sex Ed For Everyone
WSAC has made a comprehensive sex education video for young students (middle and high school) who have been presented with abstinence only education in their local schools. After screening the film, a discussion will be facilitated by WSAC to discuss the importance of comprehensive education in schools. Refreshments provided.
6pm, Coffman Memorial Union Theater
FFI: WSAC, wsac@umn.edu or Caitlin LaFlash, WSAC Staff Member lafl0025@umn.edu

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Women’s Center
About the 2010 Conference for Women In Higher Education
In 2000, the University of Minnesota hosted a National TeleConference for Women (students, staff and faculty) in Higher Education, which brought over 20,000 people together at an onsite 3-day event or by connecting women from around the country via two teleconferences. In 2010, we hope to continue the strong tradition of helping to make long-lasting change for women in higher education. Learn about the committees which are forming, use your talents, develop talents, and get involved!
11:30am-1:00pm, 152 Klaeber Court
FFI: Peg Lonnquist, pegquist@umn.edu

Women’s Center
Women’s O.N.E. (Organizations Networking for Equity) Fall Meeting
What is your experience as a woman student and a leader on campus? Do you have concerns or issues you would like to raise? What are your needs? Come join us for the fall meeting of Women’s O.N.E. and share your ideas and input with Dr. Nancy “Rusty” Barceló, Vice President and Vice Provost for Equity and Diversity. She would like to connect with you! Light refreshments served, and you’ll have the chance to win an iPod Shuffle!
3:00-4:00pm, 10 Education Sciences Building [PLEASE NOTE DATE CHANGE FROM SEPTEMBER 30]
FFI: Women's Center, women@umn.edu

P&A Women’s Council
Enjoy some desserts and learn about the newly-formed P & A Women’s Council and how to join. Meet other interested P & A women from around the University and offer your ideas on how to improve the campus climate for professional and administrative women.
3:30-5:00pm, 325 Education Sciences Building
FFI: Peg Lonnquist, pegquist@umn.edu

Friday, October 3, 2008

University Women of Color
Film Screening/Discussion
Noon, 325 Education Sciences Building
FFI: University Women of Color, uwoc@umn.edu

Women’s Center
Women’s Organization of Graduate and Professional Students (WOGAPS) Meeting
WOGAPS is a community of women graduate and professional students, and also serves as both an advisory group and editorial board for the updated Thriving Through the Experience (1997) handbook for graduate women. Please come and meet other women students, and share your experiences, concerns and needs as a graduate/professional student. Sign up to help us update Thriving Through the Experience. Light refreshments served, and you will have the chance to win a small prize!
3:00-4:00pm, 325 Education Sciences Building
FFI: Women's Center, women@umn.edu

Suggested Activist Event: Ellison Talks Voter Rights

Congressman Keith Ellison will be having a forum on Voting Rights with a particular focus on Voter Re-Enfranchisement (ie ex felons). Keith will be speaking about legislation as well as to hear from people on the ground what their concerns are as far as voting. Also, there will be 4 or 5 people on the panel to tell their story or discuss research they've done or programs that they are working on that pertain to voting re enfranchisement. We really need help getting the word out so please forward this to anyone you may know, post on list serves and distribute widely. We really do need all the help that you can provide and appreciate the help in getting the word out. We hope to see you all there and greatly appreciate your efforts.

Congressman Keith Ellison Presents a Voting Rights Forum
Learn about current legislation that affects your right to vote and discuss how to take action. Joining Congressman Ellison will be a panel of dedicated individuals
that are working hard to make democracy more accessible.

Monday, October 6th
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Powderhorn Park
3400 15th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55407

Voting Rights Legislation Congressman Ellison has introduced:
- H.R. 2457: To amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to require states to permit individuals to register to vote in an election for Federal Office on the date
of the election.
- H.R. 4026 To prohibit election officials from requiring a photo ID as a condition for voting in a Federal election.

This is a great opportunity to share information and begin a dialogue about solutions to protect the voting rights of United States citizens as well as ways to expand democracy.

The Snow White Project

I thought this was interesting:

NY Times review

fiaf website

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pilobolus Dance Co. (www.ted.com) video

"Symbosis"... who is dancing, goals of the dance company, who supports whom, expressing what?

ad analysis

I happened to catch part of this ridiculous advertisement on the TV in CafeMac , and later found the whole thing on youtube. The ad is for a color cream to be applied to grey facial hair, and these two men visit this other man in “rest home.” The rest home, is, naturally, staffed by nurse/cheerleaders, (I counted at least six standing sexily in the background). The ad is obviously directed at men, not only because it is a product for men, and the constant reference to “men,” but because of the copious amounts of scantily clad cheerleaders. It is also focused around football (the man in the rest home is a football star), which is a male-dominated sphere. I understand that cheerleaders and football go together, but it is such a blatant effort to use women to sell a product, I was disgusted.The first the audience sees of these girls is a straight-on view of a girl who is bent over, giving the audience a cleavage shot. She quickly bounces up, puts her pom-pommed hands on her hips and perkily asks “hello, may I help you?” This is the only line any of the girls have, the rest just stand around. All the girls are very thin, wearing a short skirt and a bra-like shirt, with flowing long hair. The men are the ones who are doing, the women are very passive and supportive and flat. The three men in the advertisement, two interviewers and then the one they are interviewing, do all the talking, and appear in the foreground pretty much the whole time (except for the cleavage shot in the beginning), with out-of-focus cheerleaders in the background.After the man gets out of the rest home due to the magic powers of the anti-graying cream, he is back on the football field, but not playing football, instead he is surrounded by a crowd of cheerleaders. At the end it says “he scores!” but again, there is no football playing going on. It says “he scores” when he is surrounded by jumping, smiling, bouncing, half-naked girls, suggesting the double-meaning of the verb “score,” and suggesting that by using this hair-coloring cream, you too can “score” with hot cheerleaders.

The Catch of The Day

I found this image inside the May 2008 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine. I’m sure many of you all know that Cosmo is rife with potential material to scrutinize, but I decided to do this image in particular because it wasn’t an advertisement exactly, but a fashion piece put together by the magazine itself. In fact, I almost missed this page entirely because it didn’t “speak out at me” like an advertisement does. I was really struck by this image because it portrays the model more passively that usual. Instead of being the main focus of the shot, she is situated at the bottom of the frame, as if she were a natural part of the landscape, rather than at the center of our gaze. Her stance is also passive; she lies on her back as if inviting the viewer to basically come on top of her. The original text of the image, “Be the catch of the day in summer’s simplest outfit: shorts and a striped tank,” gives a context for which to view this young woman. She is clearly depicted as being the catch of the day, which tells the viewer several different things: first, that she has no more humanity and that she is as useful to us as a dead fish in a fish market. We go to the fish market to buy food to prepare it how we choose to, and often, at seafood restaurants, we can have the catch of the day “however you like it.” Portraying the model as the catch of the day invites the viewer to consume not only the model herself in whatever way they see fit, bust also consume what she is selling and represents: the clothes and accessories. Without being an advertisement for a specific brand, Cosmo manages to display several different consumer items in the shot, totaling over 730 dollars. In this way, as the viewer gazes at the image, we are reminded of the real value of what is being offered for purchase and consumption. The image also implies to the readers that to be the “catch of the day,” or the most beautiful, attractive, desired object on display, one must have this “look,” attained through the purchasing of these specific clothes.

Computer Software Ad?!

For my ad-bust, I chose to critique an advertisement for a DJ mixing software called Deckadance made by Image Line Software. Not only can you find this advertisement in a magazine geared towards computer enthusiasts, who are mostly male, you can also download the ad from deckadance.com and make it a background for your computer! Not surprisingly, this ad receieved many complaints to which Image Line’s Managing Director of Image Line Software Jean-Marie Cannie replied “With all respect but the girls are an eye catcher (that obviously worked) for the screenshot and features that are below. If anyone feels offended, I’ll hereby apologize but we have limited budgets and as these ads cost a fortune … we want them to be seen.” Is it the girls or their bodies that are the eye catcher, Mr. Cannie? You can also find a way to make your ads more tasteful and still get the desired attention. A provocative ad that reconsiders gender roles in society would get a lot more positive attention than this stereotypical, airbrushed ad.

Other than the explicit sexuality exuded by these women, I also think it’s important that their faces are either seemingly in the distance (the blonde) or not even featured (the brunette). A direct gaze can function to question the viewer. However, these women are just featured as the sex objects of men, both displaying their most “valuable” assets: large breasts and behinds. The angle of this ad is also supports this idea as the ladder extends towards the viewer and invites them onto the scene. They are simply to be gazed at by the male body and given NO power to resist. These women are, as Jean Kilboure says, “barely there” both physically (little to no clothing) and metaphorically (passive, no agency).

What I am puzzled about concerning this ad is what do scantily clad women have to do with mixing software? Had the website name and software images been removed, I would have either thought this ad was for high heels or some sort of twisted male fantasy lesbian porn.

"You Can Hear Me 'Fore You See Me. I Got King Kong...!"

The April 2008 issue of Vogue had been positioned as truly ground breaking. People eagerly awaited the issue of LeBron James, a superstar athlete, posing with Giselle Bundchen, a superstar model, for the cover of the prestigious magazine. Not only were readers of Vogue expected to note that James was the athlete, who has the best body, of the year, but also, he was the first black man ever to grace the cover of the magazine. Instead of the cover screaming Hooray for Vogue breaking down racial barriers, it simply screamed RACIST! In fact the cover of the magazine shouted, “LeBron James is the King Kong of athletes!” So what is wrong with a black man being compared to King Kong? The answer is everything!

America has a long history of dehumanizing blackness. The 1915 film The Birth of a Nation portrayed black men as crazed animals after innocent white women. Black men were seen as natural born rapists instead of companions to white women, thus, reinforcing a notion of the bestiality of black sexuality. The threat of the black male penis in conjunction with soiling the pure white race has existed since slavery in America. This film, encapsulating on the fear of black men lusting after white women, served as a catalyst to maintain the terror of the Ku Klux Klan in the South, as well as, the forced inferiority through subjugation of black people in the United States. One can specifically locate the cover of the Vogue magazine in the same discourse of The Birth of a Nation.

When we look at the cover of Vogue juxtaposed with images of King Kong and Fay Wray, we should see striking similarities. In fact, LeBron James’ embodies a gorilla. James not only assumes a hunched gorilla like figure, but also, his grimace positions him as a wild animal ready to strike. One would think the athlete of the year would smile in place of a teeth baring scowl to express his accomplishments! Furthermore, Giselle Bundchen is positioned as running away from James but bound by his strong arm around her waist. Both LeBron and Giselle are even dressed strategically. LeBron James is wearing dark colors while Giselle is wearing a pastel color dress. The light and dark color contrast is similar to the photos of King Kong and Fay Wray. In the King Kong images light and dark imagery clearly depicts the difference between good and evil. Thus, LeBron James can be read as the “violent black man” while Giselle can be read as the helpless damsel in distress. This cover clearly places black masculinity as dangerous. While LeBron James’ grimace further enforces the criminalization of black men as untamed beasts, Giselle’s smile is its antithesis. The smile on Bundchen’s face plays into a paternalistic notion of white women needing protection from the Black Brute. Thus, the cover places white femininity as childlike and docile.

Although Vogue has denied playing on racial stereotypes for its cover, the impact of this image is still the same. Vogue, a high end fashion magazine, is marketed predominantly to middle class white women. If one looks at this image, the fear of the black man with the white woman is so apparent. LeBron James a multimillionaire has been reduced to an animal. While Giselle has been stripped of her agency and portrayed as the pretty damsel in distress. This cover shows how images are recycled through history based on prominent stereotypes of race, gender, and sexuality held by individuals. This image may come off as natural display of emotions; however, I see nothing natural in this photograph. Magazine covers are constructed with an audience in mind. These photos start off as ideas and go through an editing and retouching process, therefore, someone decided the emotion on their faces to the shoes on their feet. Whether or not the images were intentional, the impact is still the same. The cover of the magazine plays on the subconscious fears of blackness that are embedded in the fabric of America.

When I got the assignment, I immediately thought, 'why not look at some "good Hip-Hop"' - the stuff many people talk about nostalgically as meaningful, thoughtful, containing a message, being unique, etc. (implying, of course, its superiority to other forms of Hip-Hop music, specifically mainstream) - a categorization I have also used before. And with this particular category, I'm talking about the artists that I hear others mention in this context: Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, The Roots, among others. These are contemporary artists who defy the mainstream image of Hip-Hop music. I think these artists are great, and I listen to their stuff, but they havesome problematic shit as well. Common's song, "I Used to Love H.E.R.," for example, has always irked me. Common is great - he talks about a lot of stuff that other rappers don't really cover, and he has been known to talk about women in a respectful manner (though even his best attempts are still steeped in patriarchy), he has a unique style, he's all about love, the list could go on. His love for Hip-Hop, in particular, is his impetus for writing "I Used to Love H.E.R.," in which he recounts the history and evolution of Hip-Hop, gendered female.
The video is mostly populated by images like these:

These two shots show a young common coming into his room with, presumably, his first turntable. "I met this girl when I was ten years old...." In the second shot, he's rapping in front of the mirror. He's dressed in the style of early Hip-Hop. Things look good.

In this shot, like many others in the video, he's rapping to a group of guys. He's telling them about Hip-Hop, it's all nice, and reminiscent.

Of course, it would be incomplete without images of all the great things that Hip-Hop offers: the four pillars, and the communal aspect, shows, etc.
But, is it really so simple? Of course not, I wouldn't be writing about it for this assignment if it were. For one, the song's lyrics, alone, are upsetting, but then what he/the director chose to do with the video add to that in some ways. There are also shots like these:

The first time we see the woman who embodies Hip-Hop in this video, it is a camera shot panning up her legs, and resting on her butt. Hip-Hop is defined as attractive by the male gaze. There were women who were in Hip-Hop as well, but this portrayal is silencing them. By gendering Hip-Hop female, and describing her as "a dummy," unable to see the risks of selling-out to the man:
"But once the man got you well he altered the native
Told her if she got an energetic gimmick
That she could make money, and she did it like a dummy,"
Common enforces notions that women should not be given power because they, apparently, don't know what to do with it.

The next shot of the woman is at this line:
"she didn't have a body, but she started gettin' thick quick"
She is viewed from below, looking up at her butt. Before even getting into her undressing, or there being a mirror present to show her front, the lense that is used, is clearly defined by male desire. Common may be appreciating this woman, both for her external beauty and her mind, creativity, soul - all the other things he mentions in this song - but the interactions he has with her tell a different story. You see, he's in this room, watching her change:

The camera angle changes and we see Common looking at her in the mirror. He is laying down, lounging, watching these changes happen, and Hip-Hop becoming Afrocentric. But, he just watches her - they don't interact. I can't even say, for sure, if they see each other - if she's supposed to know that Common is sitting in the room with her, or if he's just a narrator and observer to her changes. If that is the case, that sets a contradiction between his love for Hip-Hop and engagement in it (actively contributing to its shaping), being a rapper, and his actions in the video, being a passive observer to her changes.

The most recurrent scene with the woman who plays Hip-Hop, is her by the shore, dancing. She goes through various forms of dress, though none are too provocative. I don't know if it's right to say she's being sexually suggestive. She's just dancing, so it doesn't have to mean anything - though when thinking about who's telling her to dance (namely Chris Halliburton, the director) I think it suggests something more. There is clearly an audience who wants to see this woman dance around on the beach. The next image suggests a bit more, who that audience might be:

"I thought it was dope how she was on that freestyle shit
Just havin fun, not worried about anyone
And you could tell, by how her titties hung."
At this point in the video, the woman is, again, on the beach, but this time her front is shown and she is bending over, pushing out her chest. There is a correlation to the line in the song - she bends down and the camera reaches her chest as "by how her titties hung" is said. The first time I heard this song, this was the line where I was like "Whoa!? What did he say?" After which, I went through and listened again. It became clear after a few listens that there was something a bit problematic about the song, but I couldn't quite place it until recently (I've been listening to the song for years), after learning about patriarchy, gender, power dynamics, and plenty of other things.
Another thing to mention is that in the scenes where the woman is not present, mostly they are Common rapping the lyrics to a bunch of guys. There are various places and scenes like this, in the park, in a room, etc. They are all men, though. As if, women do not need to hear this story, or they don't appreciate it? And, in that case, if he's telling all men, and gendering Hip-Hop female, isn't this some sort of homosocial bonding conversation they're having? It's great to reminisce over Hip-Hop. But...that's different than just reminiscing, that's objectifying. Talking about, "did you see how Hip-Hop's titties hung?"
I think my story with the song, though, is a good indication of how this kind of message can be somewhat glossed-over and missed. In truth, I didn't see the video for this song until the assignment came up, and I was curious to see if there was anything there for analysis. It was really interesting to see Common's visual representation of Hip-Hop as a woman. It could have been much worse, certainly, and describing Hip-Hop as a woman, he is putting women up in a sacred place where Hip-Hop resides for many (and maybe women don't). This is great, or... it could be great. Common cleverly personified Hip-Hop, giving him a lot of material for metaphor and visualization. But, in the end, the visual representations of Hip-Hop, the woman, are perpetuating a lot of messages that go around about women in this society. She is a sexual object, still. She can't make important decisions (goes west to the gangster scene, sells out, talks about smoking and drinking all the time). She is a thing to be looked-at. She is not interacted with - that is...in the unedited version of the video. I think it is important to say that in the edited version of the video, the first shot of her, panning up her leg, is not present. Instead, a shot of her, dressed in African clothing, I believe, on a sunny day. She is shown, later, interacting with children, in a communal setting. She is deeper than dancing alone on the beach and undressing in her room, watched by Common and the audience.
I find it interesting that Common and these other artists are held up so much by some, yet there is sexism and patriarchy present in their work. Sure, there may be more visible issues in mainstream Hip-Hop videos, but that should not mean that other artists who are less offensive are held up as the antithesis to corporate, mainstream Hip-Hop. This won't stop me from listening to Common, but like with all music, I think it's good to listen with the critical lens that Pough suggests.