Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ill doctrine

        If you were to ask me for a list of people that inspire me, you'd get back a pretty sizable list. However, if you were to ask about who inspires me to be a better person? Well the list would be much more succinct. Most of these people are people I know, friends and family, but sometimes you can't help but to be moved by the words of a public figure.
        For a few years now I've been keeping up with the video blog of John Randolph (aka Jay Smooth) called "Ill Doctrine". On the service his blog is about Hip-Hop and the community that surrounds it, but you'll quickly see that he is tackling much bigger issues. In his own words during an interview for NPR, "It's titled the hip-hop blog, but it's actually, secretly, a be-kind-to-each-other blog." And that is exactly what it is. Never before have I seen someone who is able to critique elements of the media from a decidedly humanistic perspective. Being able to see figures in the media, not as talking personifications of some ideal, but as people is a rare trait in today's media.
        You can tell right of the bat that some of his posts tackle big issues, such as "How to Tell Someone They Sound Racist". In which he details the difference between telling someone that something they said sounded racist, and accusing them of being a racist. He makes the analogy that if someone steals your wallet you don't care who they are, you care about what they did. You can't prove someone's inner nature, so you shouldn't try as it will only distract from the problem.
        Some of his posts take a different path and have morals hidden within his talks about various other subjects. Take his most recent post for example. In it he is talking about Michael Jackson, and certainly does just that, but also brings up the interesting habit in today's world of feeling they need to live through media outlets. Think of all the Michael Jackson coverage you've seen recently and tell me if any of the reporters covering it were able to come up with a message as poignant as this:
"When I look at the future for this next generation of kids, which includes Michael's children, and see them entering a world that's defined more than ever by these cameras, my hope is that we'll remember Michael by learning whatever we can learn from him to make sure that this next generation grows up knowing that they deserve to be loved in a way that's not about these cameras."
        From the interviews I've seen, I doubt he'd agree, but in my opinion he is one of the most eloquent speakers of this day and age. He has an innate ability to take little things he sees in the world and use them as a tool for understanding bigger issues in our society today. Putting complex issues and giving you the tools to be able to understand it better. Ingraining into your mind that, as hard as it is to do sometimes and as easy as it is to forget, this world is full of people. Strengthening that little voice in the back of your mind telling you that before you start to rail on someone you should take a breath and try to follow Jay Smooth's example, "...for being kind to people, and critiquing them while still being aware of their humanity."

If you're interested I suggest you check out his site.
there is also an interesting piece on him over at NPR.

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