Just when I thought I’ve had enough of “Happy”, Pharrell Williams surprised me again with a cool twist of the song on this year’s Grammy Awards.
The cinematic opening, the gospel choir, and surprise entrance of Chinese pianist Lang Lang wowed me when I watched it on air. However it was when I watched it again on Youtube that I realized people were tweeting about the “Hands-Up Don’t-Shoot” gesture made by Pharrell and the dancers during Lang Lang’s furious performance, which I missed out when watching it the first time.
Comments with hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on this reference soon took over Twitter and Facebook, followed by more conversations after these unforgettable moments took place on the Grammys stage.
I was so happy to see how popular artists took a stance on a social issue, and spread the conversation through their music (not necessarily super heavy ones) on a platform as huge as the Grammys that reaches out to millions of people.
I was especially happy to see Lang Lang, Grammy’s Cultural Ambassador to China, to be part of this performance/movement. Even though China doesn’t have similar racial inequality issues, it does have its own social injustice problems. Music is universal, so is an individual’s right to be treated equal in a society. Just like you don’t need to understand the lyrics to feel the happiness in “Happy”, you don’t need to be an African-American to relate to what it’s like to be treated unfairly in a society just because you look different from the mainstream. I hope that encouraged by star actions like this, more and more people around the world will gradually join the conversation of social injustice, especially with the help of social media.
As I went on to search for more #BlackLivesMatter related articles, I was surprised to find out that this hashtag is about to appear in the title of a course in an Ivy League Institution.
As reported by CNN, Dartmouth College will be offering a new course, “10 Weeks, 10 Professors: #BlackLivesMatter” centered on racial inequality and violence in historical and contemporary America in the spring semester. The course originated from a workshop at Dartmouth that facilitated conversations on Ferguson, and is set to bring together faculty from various fields such as geography, history, English and math to give a cross-disciplinary interpretation on this topic.
It’s so exciting to see grassroots movement led by social media like #BlackLivesMatter is breaking into “ivory towers” like an Ivy League college. I hope the course will go well, and if so, wouldn’t it be great if they can put it on Coursera, inviting more people to continue this conversation on the internet, the birthplace of the original hashtag?