Thursday, May 2, 2013

Count the Omer: Days 37 & 38

Day 37: Gevurah sheb'Yesod, Power within Connection
Attaining power and influence is all about who you know and who you can connect with. Day 37 of the Omer should be a day to think about how you can improve your networking skills. Check out these tips to get you started!

Day 38: Tiferet sheb'Yesod, Harmony within Connection
There has been a lot in the news lately about combating stereotypes.

Two weeks ago the music world was a-buzz about "Accidental Racist" by Brad Paisley and LL Cool J. There are a lot of problems with this song and I will quote a few of the worst parts, but I don't want to dwell on it here.

  • "I hope you understand when I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I'm a Skynyrd fan." Paisley's opening line, referring to the Confederate flag t-shirts you see throughout the South. Using the Confederate flag is not ok, even if it is supposed to symbolize something else. The fact is that it will forever be associated with slavery, oppression, and the deadliest war in American history. If it represented "Southern pride" before that or musical taste after that, it is completely overwritten by the Civil War. Besides that, plenty of people still use it today for racist reasons, so it is still a terrible symbol. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people try to defend this flag. 
  • Pretty much everything LL Cool J says in this song is terrible. 
  • "RIP Robert E. Lee, but I've gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me." LL Cool J's last line of the song. Seriously? You don't have to justify loving Abe Lincoln and you certainly don't have to mourn Robert E. Lee. 
But really, what did you expect from a guy whose biggest hit two summers ago was "Water," a four and a half minute song about how great water is? All that said, I am a Paisley fan and in the hundreds of interviews Paisley and LL Cool J have done since the song hit the fan, they have stressed that all they meant to do was start a conversation.

In other news, the German Jewish Museum has an exhibit dubbed "Jew in a Box," part of an exhibit called "The Whole Truth." This part of the exhibit is just a Jewish person sitting on a stool answering your questions about Judaism.

Both of these things are controversial, but in the spirit of conversation-making, let's have a conversation about racism and stereotypes. We're all guilty of stereotyping others and I think/hope that most of us would agree that that is bad. "Accidental Racist" and the "Jew in a Box" exhibit are attempting (though their success is debatable) to connect two cultures that have had their issues and that continue to be ignorant of each other. The message? The hope? The goal? To create understanding and eventually harmony by connecting people and breaking down stereotypes.

"Water" by Brad Paisley