Ever heard music on the radio or in a TV commercial that you wanted to know, “what’s that song?” You heard the song a time or two before but didn’t know the name of the artist. Well, ask any college student, high school teen or middle school tween and they might say “you gotta Shazam the song.” That’s social media talk for having an app that listens to the music and then names the song, artist and other details.
Sometimes as citizen we find ourselves in a similar situation when listening to public figures. We hear them say something and wished we knew whether the message was true or filled with disinformation. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to ‘Shazam their words’ to see if the message was on point? Well, in a sense that’s how we got to creating See America In Color (SAIC) as a social-edge campaign/platform. It’s like being able to ‘Shazam in civics’ by getting to the heart & soul of roots & culture as a classroom, company, community and country.
So you might wonder, how does this work? SAIC came about from a deep dive in American history, the ‘Black to America’ story and Hometown Strong comebacks. It was realized that part of the problem these days with separating ‘fact from fake’ is that mainstream news comes in different forms: reporting, analysis, opinion and what’s called “brand editorial.” It’s as if sometimes we have to parse and decipher by separating truth from fluff, wheat from chaff, ads from journalism.
One way to think about how this has played-out in our history is to go back to the Declaration of Independence. When you break it down the way a master preacher like Dr King would, you might get something like this: (1) We; (2) hold these truths; (3) to be self-evident; (4) that all men are created equal. Over the years we see how this has been interpreted by people differently:
- We – What/who is your ‘We’? Are you on the side of white supremacy or the side of ‘one indivisible nation under God?’ Your ‘We’ says something about your ‘I’… Identity, Importance, Inspiration, Impact.
- Hold these truths – the universal truths including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There’re those who ‘hold these lies’ and don’t think these truths should apply to everyone.
- To be self-evident – those obvious truths. For some people, truths may or may not be self-evident but they’re certainly not self-embraced. Folks build media ‘smoke screens’ around truth.
- That all men are created equal – in some corners this was taken literally to mean only (white) men. So blacks and women were initially left off the equality/equity train.
When you break things down that way, it gives us a better way to ‘Shazam in civics’ from what we see, hear and learn. But SAIC doesn’t stop there. Since we were getting into the business of spreading the ‘see in color’ message, it made sense to appreciate what it’s like to ‘see in black & white.’ In other words, if this were a new business specializing in building/selling color TVs, it would make sense to know about the workings of black & white TVs, the shift to color and then ‘smart TV’. In so doing, we get a better picture for a higher level of citizenship as people who understand the:
- Value Gap
According to Dr Eddie Glaude Jr, a Black Historian and Princeton University Chair of African-American Studies, the ‘value gap’ is where discrimination, dehumanization, and demonization all started. SAIC sees the ‘value gap’ like a spinoff from the Declaration of Independence, but as a ‘social issues flava’ to justify slavery. This flava went through updates which led to an ‘Imposter Syndrome’ dilemma in America, where some people are made to feel as if they don’t belong. Proclaiming ‘Black Lives Matter’ as a statement of truth then during the Three-fifths Clause debate and now during social protest marches, is a response to the value gap.
- Policy Gap
As the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights came about, America showed it was taking next steps beyond the Declaration of Independence. But what also happened in the law was an increasing policy gap. For example, the Fugitive Slave Act allowed those who were ‘plantation security’ to send out slave patrols to capture runaway slaves. After capture, some were tortured, like having toes cutoff as punishment. This second-class status was sealed into law with the 1857 Supreme Court ruling in the Dred Scott case which basically said black people didn’t have the rights of citizenship. It seems the Declaration of Independence took a backseat until we got to the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.
- Equity Gap
Jump forward almost 100 years and we see how the policy gap evolved into the equity gap. When soldiers returned from World War II, the federal government passed a new law called the G.I. Bill. It gave veterans the chance to get new skills, access to capital, housing and job opportunities. But that wasn’t the case for returning black veterans. Then to add insult to injury later, there was the banking practice of ‘Redlining’ to intentionally suppress property values in black neighborhoods. Owning a home is a big way to build equity. But if it’s harder for some people to get a fair shot or increased property value then you get a widening equity gap.
- Civics Gap
Today we find ourselves dealing with the civics gap. When history gets told, the truth sometimes depends on who’s doing the telling. The distortion or disinformation affects how we connect the dots between roots & culture. It’s why SAIC is focused on 4Rs for how we reboot civics education, refresh civic engagement, reset cultural messaging and revive social spirit. As we work on moving past the pandemic, social protests and post-elections drama, we have to find ways to make civics count if we want to return back to life better. Plus, if we can train ‘smart dogs’ to sniff-out Covid, don’t see why we can’t train the next generation by how we add ‘smarts’ to civics, to ‘sniff-out’ issues that feed the cultural divide.
So who’s ready to ‘Shazam in civics’? Here’s a take-home assignment. Think about how geology helps with knowing the earth’s physical landscape, natural resources and hidden fault lines. Well, maybe SAICs approach to civics might be useful in how we nail down the social landscape, human resources/assets and ‘false lines’ in news, roots & culture. We make progress with equality and equity by how we operate in our greatness and treat one another with fairness. We must turn cultural despair built around 3Rs (racism, resentment, rage) into multi-cultural synergy built around universal truths of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
You can join the conversation and support our efforts with SAICs “Dear America 2021” Impact Statement at the Facebook ‘Hometown Chat’ Page here http://www.Facebook.com/seeamericaincolor.
Tracks: K Ci & JoJo – Life – https://youtu.be/JMGgLgmfg2w
Kid Cudi ft MGMT – Pursuit of Happiness – https://youtu.be/7xzU9Qqdqww