4A --Monday, November 4, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A -Monday, November 4, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
ct Michigan 4:3a1,61
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
The hip-hop excuse
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
and ADRIENNE ROBERTS MATT SLOVIN,
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
FROM TIHE DAILY
Westphal, YES on Proposal 1
Election day is tomorrow, Nov. 5, and Ann Arbor residents will elect
new members to city council. Many students don't afford adequate
attention to the local city council elections. But, these officials
make decisions that have a direct impact on students. They impact the level
of public safety and set zoning requirements that regulate the amount and
type of new student housing developments. They also lead projects that
revitalize Downtown Ann Arbor, bringing new businesses and opportuni-
ties to both students and townies alike. .
In Ward 1, independent candidate Jeff Kirk Westphal, on the other hand,, has a
Hayner is challenging the democratic incum- diverse platform and promises to expand this
bent Sabra Briere. In the past, the Daily has platform through open dialogue with students.
endorsed Briere for her stated commitment to In an interview with The Michigan Daily, he
hearing student opinions and facilitating com- said he's interested in finding ways to make the
promises between students and the Univer- University safer. He feels that getting student
sity. However, in an interview with the Daily's support will make it possible to make these
editorial board, Briere offered no solutions to changes happen quickly. Westphal is also com-
increase communication with the University mitted to providing public transit projects that
or better serve the needs of students. The Daily extend beyond Ann Arbor, which would be
noted in2009 thatherviewsonhousingmaynot helpful to students looking to work or intern
be in the best needs of students, and her time on in surrounding suburbs or Detroit. The Daily
the council confirmed her lack of commitment endorses KIRK WESTPHAL for Ward 2.
to student's need for affordable housing. n In Ward 3, Democratic incumbent Stephen
Hayner, on the other hand, favors more stu- Kunselman is being challenged by Mixed Use
dent-friendly policies and recognizes that the Party representative Sam DeVarti. In an inter-
University plays a critical role in supporting view with The Michigan Daily, DeVarti dis-
Ann Arbor's diverse economy and population, cussed his party's main platform, mixed use
In an interview with the Daily, Hayner, a small- zoning, and how that change has the potential
business owner and University of Michigan to make housing more affordable for students.
alum, said all students deserve representation While it's great to see that students are mak-
on city council since they pay taxes through ing a concerted effort to get involved with city
their rent. Hayner also expressed his concern council, his relative inexperience and narrow
over Ann Arbor's lack of affordable housing and platform are cause for concern.
pushed for plans that would lower median rents Current City Councilmember Stephen Kun-
across the board. He's currently involved with selman has extensive experience - three terms
volunteer projects to help local schools, making on council - with local politics and policy,
his claim to care about students credible. Fur- and will be running for mayor in 2014. He has
thermore, his commitment to preserving space remained committed to student priorities such
for parks and natural waterways in the city as public safety. Kunselman has been a strong
promises amaintenancetothe open spacesboth proponentofoff-campushousingdevelopments
students and residents support. With a mix of for students, increasing housing options and
practical,budgetarygoals and asense of student helping to minimize cost increases. However,
needs, Hayner is the best candidate for the job. Kunselman should work to foster a more open
The Daily endorses JEFF HAYNER for Wardt1. dialogue with students and residents, instead of
In Ward 2, Jane Lumm, Conrad Brown and just promoting what he believes to be in their
Kirk Westphal are all vying forthe council seat. best interest without input. The Daily endorses
Lumm, an independent incumbent, pushed for STEPHEN KUNSELMAN for Ward 3.
improved public safety in the past. While pub- In addition to council candidates, a proposal
lic safety is very important to students, Lumm on Tuesday's ballot deserves voter approval.
failed to provide specific examples of how to The proposal in question will extend a sink-
improve the University's relationship with the ing fund millage for Ann Arbor Public Schools,
city in her interview with The Michigan Daily. which adds $1 million to property taxes in
While she says that collaboration is essential, order to raise money for a sinking fund which
Lumm didn't elaborate on specific ways for will fund "construction or repair of school
them to work better together. buildings" in the school district. Voters have
Brown, a University student, is also run- supported this measure twice - approving it
ning as part of the Mixed Use Party. Though in 2004, and renewing it in 2008 - and they
the aims of the party - which promotes the should support it again. According to MLive,
use of space closer to campus for practical the millage has paid for security upgrades and
commercial developments like supermarkets improvements in accordance with the Ameri-
and chain discount stores - have the poten- cans with Disability Act. AAPS should have the
tial to benefit students, Brown's ideas outside opportunity to continue these improvements
of mixed-use zoning are abstract and under- without having to cut resources within the dis-
developed. trict. Vote YES on Proposal 1.
Why we should vote on Tuesday
This article addresses two topics:
social justice and hip hop.
Let me start by acknowledg-
ing that I am a white male from
an upper-middle class, primarily
white suburb. I have been taught
to be racist by our society without
even realizing it. I can look back
at certain comments I've made or
thoughts I've had in the past and
see them as racist. We are sur-
rounded by more racism than we
even realize; we don't recognize
that being racist can be as simple
as making a joke or, in this case,
throwing a party.
By now, I'm sure you've heard
about the University's chapter of
Theta Xi fraternity's party theme
idea, giving the party attendees an
opportunity to make fun of Black
culture. I did not feel the need to
write this until, in their apology let-
ter, a member of Theta Xi claimed
that they were inspired to do this by
hip-hop music. Let me stop here and
explain where I'm coming from.
For the past five years, I have
been immersed into the world of
breakdancing, otherwise known
as hip-hop culture. The traditional
term for a break-dancer is "b-boy."
According to the values of the b-boy
community, it doesn't matter what
color your skin is or how much
money your family has - you just
have to have soul. This community
and its art have helped me become
who I am today, and I've loved
every moment of it.
Hip-hop culture contains five ele-
ments: b-boying, rapping, DJ-ing,
graffiti and the knowledge of this
culture and one's interpretation of
it. Rap has taken on a new life within
popular culture, and rap music can
be very sexist - nobody is denying
that. But rock 'n' roll can also be very
sexist. Music can be sexist. Televi-
sion can be sexist. The media pro-
motes images, sounds and ideas that
shape who we should be.
Just by existing in' our society,
we're taught what boys should do
and what girls should do. We learn
what rich people and poor people
should do. We're taught about how
black people should be and how
white people should be. We're all
victims of our own ignorance.
Thus, if I do something racist,
I can try to blame society. But I'm
still the one to make those choices
and execute those actions. If I try to
blame anyone or anything else, it's
because I can't accept the fact that I
am racist. The same goes for blam-
These next two sentences are
especially directed at the white
people reading this: Diversity
doesn't mean "not 100-percent
white." It means that every race is
represented and treated equally.
Also, don't be worried about being
labeled racist - be worried about
how your intentional or uninten-
tional racism can hurt others.
But let's get back to the topic at
hand: the party. The point of this
article is not to bash Greek life. I'd
just like to point out that as soon.as
fall semester begins, thousands of
freshmen are funneled into Greek
life. In this setting, they are gen-
erally surrounded by other white,
upper-class students and partici-
pate in the hook-up culture for their
entire time at our school. There
are also multicultural fraternities
- predominantly Black, Latino,
Asian or Indian. But I'm not talking
about the multicultural fraterni-
ties, but rather the predominately-
white fraternities. Many students
will know what I mean when I say
that typical members of the largely
white fraternities and sororities
rarely leave their social climate,
cutting.themselves off from the rest
of the school.
This controversy indicates a much
larger problem: Our society is still
very racist, and most white people
are unwilling to admit it. People are
scared of the truth - we're part of
the problem. If we are part of the
problem, we need to make changes in
our lives to become part of the solu-
So if your fraternity does some-
thing racist, don't blame hip-hop.
Blame yourself for not taking the
initiative to learn how to not be
racist. Hip-hop culture showed me
that race doesn't have to matter,
but that's not where I learned about
race. I learned about race at this
school. Through classes, campus
events and friends from different
backgrounds, I have learned of these
invisible lines between us.
These lines exist because it's
easier for us to stereotype than it
is for us to look at each person as a
unique.individual. Each person is a
unique individual, and in that sense,
we're all equal. But in a much more
real sense, our society gives some
people huge advantages over others
based on skin color, family wealth,
sexual orientation, gender, religion
and a million other factors that are
so easy to overlook. The University
has taught me this.
Hip-hop taught me that we can all
vibe out in the spirit of peace, love,
unity and having fun. I wish others
could develop this same perspective
on hip-hop, but the harsh reality is
that it's easier to point blame than
it is to take responsibility for mak-
ing this change. For people like the
party planners at Theta Xi, rap can
help to create strong negative ste-
reotypes of Black people - particu-
larly Black women. But they were
racist before they listened to hip-
hop. They were born into racism.
However, we can't blame others
for their ignorance. So this is now a
call for anybody reading this article
to rise up and take every opportu-
nity to learn what racism is and how
we can stop its presence in ourlives
and in our communities.
At this school, we're supposed to
be the Leaders andthe Best.It'stime
to start acting like it.
Sander Bregman is an
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan,
Eric Ferguson, Jordyn Kay, Jesse Klein, Melanie Kruvelis, Maura Levine,
Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald, Victoria Noble, Adrienne Roberts,
Paul Sherman, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
RYAN MOODY W
Perpetuating harmful stereotypes
An open letter to Allen Wu:
As a Black student on this cam-
pus, I was upset with the "Hood
Ratchet" party planned by Univer-
sity's chapter of Theta Xi fraternity.
After reading your published apol-
ogy in the Daily in which you said,
"I would like to sincerely apologize
for any negative emotions that you
and any other offended members of
the community may have felt" and
"I apologize for any hurt that I've
caused in our community," the lack
of specificity in your statements
gave me the impression that you
don't truly understand what you
did that was hurtful. I have friends
of many races and ethnicities who
were offended by the incident, and
I also have friends who weren't. I
don't speak on behalf of any of them.
I only want to tell you why it upset,
angered and hurt me.
. I would not have been bothered
by a hip-hop themed party. I might
- not have even been bothered by
some of the language you chose to
use in the party description, had
it been used in a different context.
What upset me was the juxtaposi-
tion of those words with images,
costumes and a video that almost
exclusively featured or described
Black people. I do agree that hip-hop
as a genre doesn't have to be Black;
in fact, it often isn't. However, that
belief is not one your Facebook event
depicted or supported. It may not
have explicitly said hip-hop equals
Black, but it didn't have to.
I'm not someone who identi-
fies with being "hood" or "ratchet."
When you parody those aspects of
Blackculture, I knowyou aren'ttalk-
ing about me - but others might not.
Events like yours help to reinforce
negative stereotypes about people
who look like me. They encourage
people who don't know me to fall
back on preconceived notions of
who I probably am instead of trying
to get to know me. They encourage
people to say things to me such as,
"Can you teach me how to twerk
since you know how?" or "You're so
much different than all other Black
people," or even, "Are your friends
back home ghetto?" I've been asked
each of these questions on this cam-
pus within the past year.
While you may hear those stereo-
types a lot on the radio or see them
on TV, I think they're perpetuated
by only a few in my community.
Those few people might be popular,
vocal and have a platform to do so,
but they don't represent the collec-
tive voices of all Black people. It's
not that I expect you or anyone else
to represent all aspects of Black cul-
ture when you have an event that
includes one small element of it, but
I would appreciate it if you didn't
perpetuate the stereotypical image
of all Black people being thugs and
hood rats with "ratchet pussies."
When you make it easy for some-
one with undiscerning eyes to
think your event is a party about
Slack people and Black culture in
general instead of a party about
hip-hop as a musical genre, that's
when it hurts me. When you name
an event in conjunction with a web-
site that is notorious for poorly rep-
resenting Black people instead of a
website that is solely related to hip-
hop, that's when it hurts me. When
almost all the descriptors to your
event come from Black hip-hop
and rap songs and adhere to Black-
targeted stereotypes, instead of the
multicultural "music genre con-
sumed by all races" version of hip-
hop you described in your response
to Erin Fischer's viewpoint, that's
when it hurts me.
I believe that although it had to
be requested, your published apol-
ogy was sincere. I understand that
you didn't think about your actions
beforehand, and I'm not going to
condemn you for something that
seems like an honest mistake. I, too,
have done and still do things that
are hurtful to people because it's
difficult to relate to people whose
struggles aren't my own. When
you created the event, you probably
didn't consider the effects that it
would have on people like me. Now
you do. I hope you act accordingly.
Ryan Moody is an Engineering senior.
These are not the federal elections. There
won't be nationally televised debates, widely
publicized gaffes by candidates nor campaign
commercials telling you to care about voting.
These are the localelections.And while they may
not offer the big, sexy issues or the widespread
appeal that federal elections do, local elections
often have a bigger impact on everyday life.
This Tuesday, the local elections will take
place in Ann Arbor. In the past, these local elec-
tions have had the lowest voter turnout of all
elections. And the college-aged bracket has had
by far the lowest turnout of all age ranges. There
were atotal of three votes cast in the Hill Campus
Precinct in 2011. That's right - out of more than
2,000registered voters,just three decided to take
the time to make their voices heard.
The above statistic is the reason why I am writ-
apathetic as to what's going on in the local gov-
ernment These elections do matter, as we will be
electing Ann Arbor City Council members who
will be deciding what issues are important and
how to allocate resources in the city. And there
areamultitude ofotherreasons tovote.
Local governments collect nearly as much
total money in taxes as the federal government
throughout the country.Instead of applyingthese
taxes to programs at the large federalscale, these
funds are used exclusively for issues in local life
-roads, schools, libraries, publictransit, to name
a few. And these are the issues that truly have an
effect on student life here at the University.
Additionally, local elections are a way to actu-
voters, each vote carries much more weight than
it carries in federal elections. And each constitu-
ent is important to the members of Ann Arbor
City Council, meaning that if there's an issue that
you care deeply about, getting in touch with a city
council member could actually reap benefits in
the immediate future.
I know that many students find excuses not to
vote - "I'm too busy," "I have an exam coming
up," and "I don't know enough about the issues,"
are rationalizations I've heard far too often.
Leave 15 minutes early and stop at your polling
place on the way to class. Take those 30 minutes
that you inevitably spend on Facebook or Reddit
and vote instead.
If you're looking for ways to become educated
about the issues and candidates on the ballot, the
Central Student Government's Voice Your Vote
commissionwill haveatable on Mondayfrom 10
a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Angell Hall lobby with fact
sheets on each of the candidates and issues that
you will see on the ballot. We will also have a
map of polling places for addresses close to cam-
pus. Additionally, Michigan's Secretary of State's
MiVote website has information on polling plac-
es, sample ballots, and registration status.
Voting is the most important part ofthe politi-
cal process, and is one of the few ways to make
your voice heard on important issues. I implore
you to exercise your right to vote in these local
elections. Hail tothevoters.
Election Day is Nov.5. Polls will be open from 7
a.m. to 8p.m.
Jesse Buchsbaum is an LSA junior:
NOTA BL E Q UOTA BLE
Disturbingly, negative stereotypes and misogynistic
behavior are woven into popular culture today. We
believe this reinforces the ongoing need to continually
pay attention to diversity and engage in thoughtful,
challenging conversations about social identities.'
- Vice President of Student Life E. Royster Harper wrote in a campus wide
e-mail responding to the Facebook description of a Theta Xi fraternity party.