“Quiet”

 

I can’t keep quiet

For anyone

Anymore

 

 

On January 21st, 2017, hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the Women’s March on Washington D.C., the now famous protest in response to President Donald Trump’s inauguration.  The march demanded equal rights for women, but also for the other minority groups concerned by the presidential election.  One of the largest rallies ever held, the Women’s March created a forum for the modern feminist movement.  Symbols like the We The People campaign, the pink hat, and the empowering upraised fist came to be associated with the events of the day.  The song “Quiet,” by Connie Lim (or MILCK) is another such symbol, and it has become a call to civic engagement for American women from Seattle to Boston.

 

When MILCK first wrote “Quiet” several years ago, she was told not to release the song.  The ballad, she revealed in an interview with Allure, was written as a retelling of her experience with fear and empowerment.  The daughter of Chinese immigrants, MILCK grew up with a double set of social expectations; one from her family, and one from the Americans around her. Put on your face, know your place, shut up and smile, don’t spread your legs the first lyrics of the song represent the confining demands that were placed on her as a woman in America.

 

Following the events of the presidential election however, MILCK decided that she had to share her song with the world.  In a time when American women, MILCK, and myself included, are wondering whether our voices will be heard in this administration, “Quiet” validates our fears and then dissolves them by calling us to action.

 

The lyrics of “Quiet” embody the spirit of not only the Women’s March itself, but of the uncrushable spirit of the women in our country.  It addresses the challenges we face and the fears that hold us back, and empowers us to break through the fear and speak up for ourselves.  Many American women, especially teenagers, are hesitant to voice their opinions because our society often labels outspoken women as “aggressive” or “pushy” – MILCK sings openly about these feelings, refusing to hide even her fear.

 

But no one knows me no one ever will,

If I don’t say something if I just lie still –

Would I be that monster scare them all away,

If I told them what I have to say

 

Those lyrics pierce right through me, and strike at the heart of my fears.  As I cross the line into adulthood, it is dawning on me that people won’t be asking me to raise my hand – if I have a message to spread, I have to voice it on my own.  Chances are the world isn’t going to like everything I have to say, and I will be reprimanded more than once for being an outspoken American woman – I will be that monster.  As I’ve struggled to come to terms with that, “Quiet” has reassured me of the importance of speaking out anyway:

 

I can’t keep quiet, no

I can’t keep quiet, no

A one woman riot, oh

 

I can’t keep quiet

For anyone

Anymore

 

MILCK’s lyrics have calmed my fears of facing judgement from the world, and have empowered me to fight for the things I believe in.  Women like me all over the United States are discovering the inner strength to stand up and demand equal rights; we can’t keep quiet anymore, and “Quiet” is giving us the power and the reminder to engage our world and fight to make it a better place.

 

The soulful lyrics of “Quiet” relieve our fears of expressing ourselves, but it also encourages us to actively engage in our communities.  The song comes to a climax when MILCK sings


Let it out, Let it out

Let it out now

There’ll be someone who understands

 

MILCK’s notes appeal to that urge inside each of us to let it out, to tell the world how we feel and to fight for the change we want to see in our society.  The song asks every woman to share what they have to say, pleading with us to show everyone how powerful we truly are.  MILCK also reminds us that, no matter where you are or how isolated you feel, none of us is alone.  Each one of us is fighting to reach the same goal of equality, and when we feel alone and unheard, There’ll be someone who understands.

 

 

The empowering message of “Quiet” could not have come at a better time.  The 2016 presidential election was one of the most controversial in our history, and it has raised a lot of debate on topics covering immigration policy to reproductive rights and everything in between.  The candidate’s attitude towards women and women’s rights created upheaval on more than one occasion, and it was a deciding factor for many people when they went to vote.  Millions of women in America were downright afraid of the results of the election and many women, myself included, have become concerned about the future of our rights and social standing in America.

 

MILCK recognized this fear, and it motivated her to finally release “Quiet.”  She first performed the song at the Women’s March in a way that unified all the women present.  As the women’s march approached, she reached out to 23 women across the country and asked them to debut the song with her in D.C..  The women rehearsed the piece online, preparing for the event.  The http://now famous video of their performance was not only the first time they had sung together, but the first time any of these women had met each other.  The performance was, and is, a reminder to all of us that we can make anything happen when we work together to fight for our rights.  Together we can change the world we live in.

 

“Quiet”’s achingly beautiful melody is still shaping the way American women are looking at their place in society.  As the song gains popularity, MILCK’s message of courage and empowerment is reaching a wider audience, and is causing women everywhere to rethink the way they perceive the world.  The original video recording of the Women’s March performance went viral, quickly reaching a national platform.  MILCK released a music video accompanying the song, a visual story equally as powerful as the song itself, and performed “Quiet” live on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.  Women around the world share their stories of empowerment with the hashtag ICan’tKeepQuiet, a tag now synonymous with the Women’s March as well.

 

 

In today’s political climate, MILCK’s single “Quiet” calls on American women to speak out and become engaged in our communities.  By acknowledging the fears and doubts we have about doing this, the song becomes relatable to its audience, and allows us to hear the message of her song.  She promises that we are not alone in our search for equality, and that when we feel isolated and alone, there will be someone else who is fighting alongside us.  With every chord we are encouraged to take the risk, fight for our beliefs and above all, to make our voices heard.

 

I can’t keep quiet

For anyone

Anymore

 

 

~ For the readers of a women’s life magazine (Live Happy, Darling, Cosmopolitan) ~

It’s What I Need To Do

Bibiane is one of the women interviewed by Addario; her husband left her after learning that she had been raped.

“With each new assignment … I felt more fortunate to be an independent, educated woman.  I was thirty-one years old, and I cherished my right to choose my love, my work.  I had the privilege to travel and to walk away from hardship when it became too much to bear.  Most people on earth didn’t have an exit door to walk away from their own lives.”

 

As a white American woman, Lynsey Addario knows that she will never have to face the injustices that the people in her camera lens experience.  Chapter 8 of her book “It’s What I Do” opens with her expression of gratitude for the life she is able to lead, following her account of Congolese women who had been raped.

 

Kanyere was also interviewed; her three year old daughter was raped.

The stories of these women were the most intense part of the book for me; I do not connect to things easily, but the rejection of these women by their families brought me to tears in anger.  Lynsey tells their stories of hardship and cruelty, and through her words I could feel their anguish.  When she then contrasted the stories with her gratitude for the privileges she had been born with, it made me realize just how lucky I really am.

 

In my passion blog, I hope to address the conflict between privilege and discrimination the way that Lynsey Addario discusses rape in her book.  I want to shed light on the prejudice that people face without sensationalizing it, to remind those who are not targets of discrimination that it is still their responsibility to oppose it.  As a white American woman, I have privileges that many others would never dream of having, and it is up to me to use my gifts to make the world a place where equality is a reality, not a distant dream.

 

I Can’t Keep Quiet

I can’t keep quiet, no

I can’t keep quiet, no

A one woman riot, oh

 

I can’t keep quiet

For anyone

Anymore

 

These lyrics from MILCK’s song “Quiet” resonates with women across the United States in a way that few slogans ever have.  On January 21st, 2017, Connie Lim (MILCK), first performed her song a cappella at the Women’s March in D.C. – her performance was videotaped by spectators at the march, and the song quickly became a rallying cry for women around the country.  As the piece gained media attention, MILCK released an accompanying music video, adding a visual story to her musical one.  “Quiet” is an incredible song that unites women in their common experiences of modern sexism, and is empowering us to speak out against injustice in today’s world, to refuse to keep quiet.

 

  • “Quiet” addresses the fears and pressures that American women face today
    • the first verse addresses the societal expectations for women to behave a certain way
    • the lyrics acknowledge the fear of being harassed for speaking out
    • the refrain releases these anxieties when MILCK sings “I can’t keep quiet, for anyone, anymore”
    • the music video shows a physical interpretation of the feelings that strike a chord with women all over the country

 

 

  • “Quiet” is challenging American women to speak out for their beliefs and challenge the expectations imposed on us by years of sexism and inequality
    • MILCK released the song after being told she shouldn’t (not keeping quiet)
    • first sung at the women’s march
      • keystones of the evolving women’s rights movement
    • women that had never met each other sang together to support their cause
      • they’re not keeping quiet

 

“Quiet” is a song that does so much more than get stuck in our heads – it gets stuck in our souls.  The mournful lyrics turn into words of empowerment, and MILCK’s refusal to keep her silence is inspiring women across the United States to speak out against inequality.  In today’s political and social climate, “Quiet” is empowering us to engage in our communities and fight for our rights.  It shows us that we can let them hear what we have to say; we can’t keep quiet, for anyone, anymore.

 

 

Don’t Just Wave the Flag; Live It

Most of you are familiar with Judy Garland’s performance of “Somewhere over the rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz.  What many of you may not know is that her performance is commonly thought to be the inspiration for this symbol recognized worldwide.  The pride flag, first sewn by Gilbert Baker in 1978, has become a banner for the LGBTQA community across the globe.  Created at the request of Harvey Milk, the rainbow replaced the controversial pink triangle, a symbol used by Nazis to represent homosexuality.  The new flag was bright and colorful, an intentional statement of pride and empowerment.  Each individual stripe is significant, and together they have become far more than just pretty colors in the wind.  For the past 30 years, the pride flag has functioned not only as a symbol of pride, but as a step by step guide to living out the beliefs of the flag.

 

The original pride flag was sewn with eight stripes.  Each color represented a core belief of the pride movement; hot pink symbolizing sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, and so on.  The flag was reduced to just six colors as the original flag was difficult to mass produce, but the eight stripe flag has made a recent resurgence.  Many flags now include black and brown stripes as well, representing inclusiveness in race as well as sexuality.  The colors of the flag stand for the most important beliefs and goals of the pride movement.  More importantly, they symbolize the actions that help the community achieve those goals, and if you’ll allow me, we’ll take the flag apart for a moment to examine each one.

 

Hot Pink: Sexuality

    • What was being repressed, and what the LGBTQA community is refusing to hide
    • Pink was also the color used by the Nazis to identify homosexuals
      • The hot pink stripe acknowledges the history, but claims a bolder, brighter pink that makes being gay a source of pride, not shame
      • Live hot pink by owning sexuality, not hiding it

 

Red: Life

    • It’s the color of our life force, the red blood that flows in the veins of every human, gay, straight, transgender, etc.
    • Reminder that despite prejudice and violence, the life of the movement is still strong
    • Enacted at every parade and every monument where people demonstrate that they will keep the movement alive

 

 

Orange: Healing

    • Response to the hatred that the LGBTQA community has faced
      • Harvey Milk’s assassination, to Orlando shooting
    • Claims that it is a community that helps each other heal
    • Supporting each other on social media and in groups/parades/monuments to live this color

 

Yellow: Sun

    • The sun shines in daylight; so will this community
    • Refusing to hide behind closed doors
    • Enacted by voicing sexuality, being determined to thrive in the open, (everytime a person “comes out”)

 

Green: Nature

    • Being gay (or bi, or transgender, etc.) is not a choice; it’s the way you are born
    • Celebrating your love without being afraid
    • Teach children to live and love the way they were born to do

 

Turquoise: Art

    • Encouraging self-expression; again, refusal to hide
    • Acknowledging difficult history
    • Ex. Calum Scott’s “Dancing on My Own” (How he’s living the flag)

 

Indigo: Harmony

    • Not an angry movement; want acceptance and equality, not superiority
    • Allow each person to live their lives the way they feel is right
    • Live it out by celebrating differences (ex. adding new stripes) and promoting peace

 

Purple: Spirit

    • The spirit of the movement and the people in it
    • The determination to create a better world
    • The unbreakable pride of its members
    • Demonstrated every time the flag is waved, every parade, every time we denounce prejudice

 

Collectively, the colors of the rainbow flag act as a guide to living the ideals of the pride movement.  It’s not only a symbol of acceptance and inclusion, but a working guide to reaching the goal of equality.  Each color represents a core belief of the movement, and every time the flag is raised it renews the commitment to live by those beliefs.  By incorporating the goals of the flag into daily life, millions of people have been able to not only own and celebrate their own sexuality, but become a more civic-minded, engaged community that is determined to make the world a better place.  They have committed themselves to doing more than just waving their flag; they’re living it.

My Pen, My Greatest Weapon

Lynsey Addario, author of It’s What I Do, has seen atrocities that many Americans can only imagine in their worst nightmares, and has experienced the horrors of combat all over the globe.  Her memoir illustrates the emotional highs and lows of her work as a conflict photographer, and her voice as a writer empowers readers to pay attention and get involved in her search for justice.

 

Ironically, the most empowering moment in the memoir occurs when Addario is told that Life magazine will not be publishing her photos of the American soldiers wounded in Fallujah, Iraq because “the images are simply too ‘real’ for the American public.” Her outrage at the rejection is evident in her writing, but with it comes a new, bold determination to make a difference.  

 

In this moment, Addario’s writing takes on a new, commanding tone as she claims “I was now a photojournalist willing to die for stories that had the potential to educate people… to open their minds, to give them a full picture of what was happening..”  In the course of a few words, she evolvesfrom a hopeful photographer reliant on an editor to an empowered photojournalist, turning her pen into a weapon against injustice.

 

The moral responsibility that Addario feels to share the truth of the war makes her writing all the more compelling to me.  I hope to borrow from her in my own blog articles, making sure that my readers understand the importance of my message as an anti-discrimination writer.  By using my pen as my greatest weapon, I can convey the same feeling of empowerment and, like Lynsey Addario, use my voice to eradicate the prejudice in the world.

The Kiss I Don’t Want To Miss

“I never wanted to regret the kisses I missed.”  As Lynsey Addario writes her grandmother’s story in It’s What I Do, the photographer ends the anecdote with this lingering wish for her own life.  Unlike her grandmother, Lynsey decides she doesn’t want to spend her life wondering about what life could be; she chooses to kiss passionately in life and to take risks on the things she cares about.

 

 

Addario’s choice was followed by a life full of metaphorical kisses.  When given the opportunity to travel, she takes it without hesitation.  On witnessing the events of September 11th, she immediately decides to photograph the War on Terror.  As events unfolded in the early 2000s, Lynsey took hold of the moment, unwilling to miss any opportunity.  Her passion for photography guided her decisions, and she became a world renowned photojournalist.  Her pursuit of opportunity has inspired me as I start college to take risks and explore my passions.

 

 

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I’m writing a passion blog to raise awareness of discrimination on campus.  Although the issue takes many forms, it’s a deeply personal one for me.  I was raised by two mothers, and it infuriates me to see hateful slurs in our culture.  As I read It’s What I Do, Addario’s actions inspired me to take risks for the issues I care about.

 

Fighting discrimination is the kiss I refuse to miss.  I am willing to go out on a limb and argue for social equality in any form, be it gender, race, religion, etc.  I am determined to make a difference in my community, and Lynsey Addario has shown me how.  By living my life passionately and taking risks for my beliefs, I can make sure I never regret the opportunities I don’t take.

No Place For…History?

My first week of freshman year at Penn State has been inundating.  I’ve spent the last seven days running around campus looking for buildings, writing my email address dozens of times for clubs I may not ever join, and collapsing onto my dorm-issued twin bed hoping to finally get a full night’s sleep.

 

As a certified nerd, one of the greatest experiences of the week was going to my classes.  Yes, I said it, I’m the kid that loves class.  In college we get to choose what we study, so why not pick something you love, right?  Speaking of loving what you do, one of my first assignments is to create a passion blog to write about something I care about.  It’s an awesome assignment, but I have to admit, it’s intimidating.

 

My first response to the assignment was yes!  I can write about the nerdy things I love!  I created a plan to write about historical queens that changed the game for women of their time.  Satisfied with combining my love for history and women’s rights, I started googling influential queens around the world.

 

The further I got into it however, the more I thought that I could write about something more important.  Sure I love history, but maybe there was something more meaningful to talk about.  What am I really passionate about?  Well, long story short, I want to fight for equal rights on campus.

 

After thinking it through, I’ve come up with a new plan.  I’ve decided to start my college career by writing a passion blog called “No Place For Hate” to discuss discrimination in our culture.  By writing about contemporary issues, I hope my blog will raise awareness on campus about prejudice and promote acceptance in all contexts; after all, WE ARE, aren’t we?