Vol. 2 Issue 17 | April 29, 2016
Three Things This Week
1. Tunsil’s Tumble
What it is: Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil fell from the projected #1 pick in the NFL Draft to the 13th overall pick (costing him millions of dollars) after a video emerged showing him smoking marijuana. Making matters worse, Tunsil’s Instagram was also hacked revealing that Tunsil received money from Ole Miss, which is a major NCAA violation.
Why it's important: Someone close to Tunsil was obviously out to smear his reputation and hurt his draft stock. And though the video is over two-years-old, his past mistakes came back to haunt him on the biggest night of his life. Talk with your students about the short-term and long-term consequences of their actions. Because the internet is forever; pictures and videos posted online can’t be taken back. Teach them to reflect before they reveal anything online, as well as to remember that what they do in private may often become very public, both on and off line.
What it is: A best-selling app used to airbrush selfies, allowing users to “achieve magazine-style results.” Think high-end, super-model photoshop for the masses, allowing teens to alter the shapes of their faces, whiten teeth, remove blemishes, and change skin tone
Why it's bad: The more students use such editing apps, the higher the beauty bar goes, creating a standard of perfection that’s literally impossible to achieve. And the results are scary. While photoshopped images shrink bodies and remove “blemishes,” narcissism and eating disorders are on the rise, with 20 million females and 10 million males suffering from anorexia or bulimia. Our students’ self-image continues to be distorted since the only images they see of other human beings are typically visually enhanced.
What to do: Teach your students that they are so much more than a body to be objectified or idolized. Empower them to reject such messages by canceling magazine subscriptions, posting un-edited photos, taking fewer selfies, and saying #NoFaceTune. But most importantly, please love and accept them completely, just as they are.
3. Summer at Summit
What it is: Summit Ministries Student Worldview Conferences are intensive two-week summer retreats designed to teach students (ages 16-22) how to analyze the various ideas that are currently competing for their hearts and minds.
Why it's good: Summit is a safe place for students to wrestle with what they believe and why they believe it. Here’s a great video about Summit's sessions, and here’s more information about how Summit can impact your student’s worldview.
Cultural Phenomenon: Lemonade
Over the weekend, Beyoncé surprised everyone by releasing Lemonade, an epic “visual album” that works through her struggle with her husband’s infidelity, as well as the broken, marginalized relationship black women have with society as a whole. Visually stunning, poetic, and sophisticated, Lemonade is one of the most aesthetically impressive releases by a mainstream artist in recent history, and its subject matter is hyper-relevant.
Although Beyoncé has been accused of man-hating, there is much more to Lemonade than that. Granted, in the first half of the album, she expresses her rage against adultery and a society that justifies it, but the story doesn’t end there. It moves into a true desire for reconciliation with Jay Z.
Though the final four acts in the narrative arc (“Forgiveness,” “Resurrection,” “Hope,” and “Redemption”) utilize deeply Christian concepts, it is clear that Christianity isn’t where Beyoncé’s hope comes from. Early on, Beyoncé seeks solace in God but finds none, and later lyrics, like “I break chains all by myself / won’t let my freedom rot in Hell,” suggest that in Beyonce’s worldview, true liberation comes from within, not from God.
At the same time, it’s also clear that Beyoncé is no atheist. Beneath some of the vulgarity and profanity, a darker picture of God takes shape: Her true “god” is a woman, a deity we connect with by our sexuality. Later Beyoncé prays, “Mother dearest, let me inherit the earth. Teach me how to make him beg.”
Beyoncé’s flavor of feminism has long walked the line between female empowerment and sexual exploitation. And while Lemonade is more polished than anything she’s released previously, it’s also more raw and vulnerable. The result is a rallying cry to everyone (but especially black women) to remember that you always have the power to choose what you make of your circumstances, no matter how difficult they may be.
Ask your students: For your female students: Which parts of this album represent your experience as a woman accurately? For your male students: What parts of this album made you feel uncomfortable, and why? For all your students: What do you do when others deeply disappoint you? What gives us the power to forgive and pursue reconciliation? What does true love look like among broken people?