ICYMI: rapper Le1f performs in the Blue Room

Le1f performs at MoMA PS1 Warmup in July 2012. Photo courtesy Tom Keelan '14

Le1f performs at MoMA PS1 Warmup in July 2012. Photo courtesy Tom Keelan '14

 “[Hip-Hop] started with the alpha males. And now it’s being given to the beta males to try to flex their shit,” says Bran Nubian Lord Jamar in his recent New Yorker profile.  Jamar has been releasing inflammatory statements on a weekly basis for a while now, firing shots at Kanye West for wearing a leather Givenchy skirt on stage and now at openly gay rapper Le1f for straying from hip-hop’s macho roots.

Musically, Lord Jamar is irrelevant. However, the spotlight turned to him recently after he released a song entitled “Lift up Your Skirt,” insulting West for his “pioneer[ing] of this queer shit.” Lord Jamar believes that “in order to preserve a culture there are certain guidelines and boundaries that have to be there.”

Hip-hop culture is not about xenophobia or fear of the unknown; it is about combating those issues and more. Lord Jamar’s hateful messages turn him into an oppressor. His actions go against the philosophy of the movement he is trying to “preserve.” 

Le1f is primarily known for being an openly gay MC, but he is first and foremost and creative artist who brings the all-too-often homophobic hip-hop world a new flavor. He recently performed live on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” advertising his latest project, Hey. Following his performance, Lord Jamar responded to a fan on twitter who sent him the video of Le1f’s performance, exclaiming:

Lord Jamar sounds and acts like a conspiracy theorist obsessed with the “feminization” of hip-hop. Le1f performing on a nationally-televised late-night show will always be positive for the culture. This kind of exposure is another in a long line of steps towards acceptance and respect for hip-hop.

Le1f released an inspiring statement in response to Jamar. In it, he breaks down the struggles he has faced and highlights the ignorance that fed Jamar’s judgements. It reads:

Dear Lord Jamar,

Choose your battles. If the whitening of rap is a concern to you, please leave my name out of it. If you think being gay is the same as being white, you are as ignorant as your enemies. I’m darker than you. I’m african. I’m a black man and I experience all the same racism you do, if not more, on top of homophobia, including from black men just like you. Are you proud of being a hateful member of a majority? Rap started out as a creative response to oppression, and no matter my outfit, I know oppressions you will never understand.

All respect,

Le1f

“Alpha males” do not speak down on others based on their appearance or dress. They do not keep hip-hop from growing by using negative stereotypes. “Alphas” are game changers, leaders, and innovators. Chance The Rapper, who is using a vibrant and refreshing sound to call attention to Chicago’s murder epidemic, is an “Alpha.” Nicki Minaj, who is bending the definitions of masculinity and femininity, who is destroying rap patriarchy, is an “Alpha.”

“Alpha” artists prove to the less enlightened that femininity and masculinity are not based on who puffs their chest out the most or who dresses differently. Being an “Alpha” and being a part of hip-hop are about empowerment and representing voices that need to be heard. Le1f is one of them. 

by Julia Schur '15
jschur@gm.slc.edu


Photos by Tom Keelan '14
tkeelan@gm.slc.edu
http://tomexists.tumblr.com/ 
cargocollective.com/tomkeelan

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Forty-five years after the Westlands Sit-in

Photo by Ellie Brumbaum '17

Photo by Ellie Brumbaum '17

On Tuesday, March 4, 1969, Westland's was overtaken by students. This was known as the "Westland's Sit-In." The students were complaining about "elitism" and wanted more "diversity."

Placards placed around campus said things such as, "Liberated womanhood in a sexually and socioeconomically homogenous environment is a logical inconsistency. Support the sit-in." 

Around seventy students of the 665 undergraduates and the ten graduates at the time participated in the sit-in. The front door was secured with a rope. Arthur Raybin, Director of Development for the college at the time, approached the students to reason with them soon after the takeover, but was told to leave.

Because the administrative offices were in Westlands, administration had to be moved into the President's House. They repurposed the rooms and carried on with business as best they could.

Classes continued as usual since the majority of students hadn't joined the sit-in. Some of the students sent food to the protestors inside Westland's.

The main spark for the sit-in was the tuition increase. The deficit was $700,000. According to CPI Inflation Calculator, that would be about $4,500,000 in today's dollars.  The tuition in 1969 was $5,000 per student, per year, which is about $32,000 today. The raise of $450 was announced in late January.  Esther Rausenbush, the President at the time, met with the 24-member Board of Trustees who agreed to lower the increase by $100 when alumni agreed to help meet the deficit. They also announced financial help for students facing hardships with the new costs.

The students rejected the compromise and began the sit-in demanding that the school be integrated with students from poor and middle-income families "in order to broaden the educational horizons of the student body." Their concern was that it would become impossible for anyone who was not rich to attend Sarah Lawrence.

What the students meant by "diversity" was that they wanted more lower income students. The twenty eight black students at the time were not in support of the sit-in. The Black Students Association did support several demands from the protesters, which were related to diversification and new educational goals and policies.

During their time in Westland's, the protesting students kept everything in order. They vacuumed the hall carpets on a daily basis, and even though they now had access to all the important papers of the college, as far as administration knows, the students touched none of them. 

At one point, a rumor surfaced that Esther Rausenbush was about to call the police. Three faculty members spoke to Esther, who promptly denied the rumor. By Friday, March 14th, Esther thought the tension had lessened enough for her to enter the building. Esther sent a note in the morning saying that she would come to the building at 10:30 a.m. and that she wanted the building clear, and the doors open. When Esther arrived, she was not admitted inside. A note placed outside listed three "demands." Esther's intention then was to send a warning note of suspension. Later, four girls said that they had abandoned the tuition request, and all the other requests except that "one-third of the entering class this fall should be people from working-class homes." Esther told them while a student body of many racial and economic backgrounds was desirable, they didn't have the money for it.

Later that day, word reached around campus that at around 10:30 p.m., the protesters were going to leave Westlands. At around 10:45, the protestors left the building. About a hundred people had gathered, including press representatives, some from CBS News. One protestor read a statement and then the rest of the protestors went off across campus, officially ending the sit-in. By 11:15 p.m., administration was back in their offices.

The sit-in ended ten days after it started. Some said the Westland's sit-in empowered the student body to take charge of their education, while others complained it would lead to a lowering of academic standards. 

When the rumor came out that Esther was going to suspend everyone in Westlands she was told, "Please don't do anything just now; they don't want to be suspended; they want to be here." The reasons for the sit-in had little to do with dissatisfaction of the college as a whole. Sarah Lawrence students already had a large voice in their education, strong communication with their teachers, and the opportunity to do independent work. Even the Board meeting that involved the tuition increase had two student representatives. The Westland's occupiers weren't protesting because they rejected the school, but because they valued it.

by Joseph McFarland '16
jmcfarland@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

SLAC hosts Beyoncé themed dance to unprecedented turn out

Students anxiously awaited in the cold to get in to the Beyoncé dance in the Blue Room on Friday, February 28   Photo by Ellie Brumbaum '17

Students anxiously awaited in the cold to get in to the Beyoncé dance in the Blue Room on Friday, February 28

Photo by Ellie Brumbaum '17

For the first time in a long time, the Sarah Lawrence college campus was in a frenzy. Whispers were exchanged, tweets were sent, Facebook invitations were confirmed, and an incredible turnout appeared at the Beyonce themed party in the Blue Room on Friday, February 28. Only Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child music was allowed at this much-hyped event. Doors opened at 10PM, but an hour into the evening the Blue Room was packed with a huge line going out the door. A nice change from previous Blue Room events was that pizza, garlic bread rolls, and soda were provided for attendees. 

Despite the build up, by the end of the night I was disappointed. To be fair, the Blue Room was the most packed that I had ever seen it and people seemed to be having a good time; however, the regular pauses in between music made the atmosphere awkward. At one point in the night there were five whole minutes when dancefloor denizens chanted “no music.” In addition, the DJ’s tried cut and mix up the songs too much—just play the full song! I felt that it should have been a no-brainer to make a playlist and simply press play, seeing as only one artist was being represented. We didn’t want anything fancy—just our Queen Bey!

by Adrianne Ramsey '17

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.