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Welcome! I am Jason Nguyen, a graduate student in ethnomusicology at Indiana University, Bloomington, and this blog is where I make observations about music, culture, and academic life.

Brothers West and Smiley miss (or are ignoring) an important point

I much respect the strong positions Tavis Smiley and Cornel West take with respect to the poor and the disenfranchised, of all color and creed. Their voices are important ones that force us all to refocus our lenses vis-a-vis the status quo. That said, I find their continued criticism of President Obama somewhat myopic–not because I think that the President is a saint, but because I think they are missing the point.

In an interview with Ed Schultz, Dr. West characterized the president as having “missed the moment” to focus on homeowners and poverty. However, pinning the blame on a single person–even the President of the most powerful nation in the world– only serves to shift the blame away from ourselves. If there was a “moment” as Dr. West stated, then we all missed it. Indeed, it was never Obama’s opportunity to take–it was our’s. “Yes we can”–if we want to.

Seeing the fabricated problems brought about by the staunch Tea Party caucus in the past few months, I see both a very sad truth and a lesson: if you want a reality, you have to MAKE that reality. Tea Party Republicans have managed to construct the world they believe in by controlling the narrative, rising up together, and fighting for it. The government will never become an advocate for the poor and disenfranchised before the American people do so.

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