In David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, chapter one, Fleming emphasizes the cultural and geographical implications of the definition of the word ‘citizen’ as well as the difference between politics and political theory. Fleming begins with his discussion of the meaning of a citizen by outlining what it means, on paper of course, to be an American citizen. Fleming quotes the National Standards of Civics and Government, a government document created in 1994 stating that, “The identity of an american citizen is defined by shared political values and principles rather than by ethnicity, race, religion, class, language, gender or national origin”(20). Fleming takes this ideal and brings it into reality, with his argument that it is not political similarities and principles that are the driving forces of America’s citizens, it is much more so their background. The race, ethnicity, gender and age of a person plays a much larger role in who they are as a citizen and how they act, than do the collective founding principles of an American.
This being said, if the citizens political drive is less influenced by the founding principles of the country then it is more founded by their own individual background and culture. This act of individualization proves to negate the generalized definition of ‘the citizen’. Consequently, the citizen becomes less ‘the citizen’ and more ‘a citizen’, acting in a way that is less aligned with each other, and more aligned with their perspective background, therefore dividing a society that is supposedly founded on the same principle values. The question that arises from this division, is how a government is supposed to provide opportunity to a society in which its citizens vary so greatly, and, if the government is able to provide such provisions, will certain groups fall through the cracks?
Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany, NY,
The Band AJR which stands for Alex, Jack and Ryan, is musical group composed of three New York City Raised brothers. Their song I am referencing to here, called “Weak” references the various activities that a young man in the group often falls victim too, once night falls and his judgement weakens. The words, “They call me after dark”, compliment the words earlier in the song “One kiss, bad for me”, leading the listener to the conclusion that one of these formidable acts that he takes part in after dark is of a sexual nature. The regrettable tone of the song and this man’s action, without any reason as to why he is regretting these decisions struck me. The demonizing lense with which we, a larger western culture, use to look at sex in general, completely infiltrates many aspects of our lives with absolutely no explanation. Even the most socially accepted, topical form of sex, that between a man and a woman in a consenting marriage, is not considered an approachable topic of conversation in most forums. This leaves me wondering why such different stigmas regarding sexual relations are prevalent in different cultures. Is it America’s deeply rooted puritanical values? Or the fact that sex is a commodity and the rules of capitalism disallow for the an excess of a commodity if you want to keep it valued and high priced? And finally, is it possible to alter an entire culture’s perception of, possibly, one of the most ingrained, human pieces of us all?
This week I chose to analyze the Music video for the song “Waka Waka” by Shakira. To give this video context, it was created in anticipation for the 2010 FIFA world cup. The music video depicts a Colombian Shakira singing about that make Africa, Africa. Shakira’s light hair and complexion in the video contrast greatly from her four, extremely dark-skinned female backup dancers. These dancers, while holding a much smaller part in the video than Shakira are all depicted to be of African descent and shown to be practicing dances and clothing styles from various African countries. This contrast struck me as odd. The women in the video who represents African culture as much as I do, an Italian/Irish girl from Connecticut, is the one with the largest role in advertising the country’s culture in preparation for the World Cup. This cultural inconsistency highlighted, to me, the subconscious racism still present in society.