Tag Archives: April Gregory

Unblurring the Lines

by April Gregory, ’13

A recent onslaught of tits-in-your-face (TIYF) music videos has catalyzed much hullabaloo in the blogosphere. If you haven’t seen Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” Justin Timberlake’s “Tunnel Vision,” or The-Dream’s “Pussy” (yes, just “Pussy”), you may wish to view them now. On Vevo or Vimeo, though, because they were pulled from YouTube. And not in a place where your supervisor might drop in to give you some Chobani coupons, because they are very, very TIYF.

To start, I should make one thing exceedingly clear: for years I was a more or less passive acceptor of the contradictions inherent in my favorite music genres. I love hip hop and R&B. LOVE. I love booming bass and releasing my inner Bey on the d-floor whenever possible. Consequently, I had — and still have — a tendency to ignore the often unsavory lyrics that float atop said booming bass. “She eyein’ me like her n***a don’t exist / Girl, I know you want this dick,” to name a recent favorite.

At Stanford I had the opportunity to learn from and connect with some of the world’s foremost hip hop scholars, who dropped more knowledge on me than I knew what to do with. They encouraged me to engage more critically with the voices in my earbuds, which in turn inspired some original musings about hip hop and feminism. The more I thought about the dissonance between my personal ideologies and the hot misogynist mess that is mainstream hip hop and R&B, the less passive I became.

Continue reading

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A Public Non-Apology to Abigail Fisher

by April Gregory, ’13


The Fisher vs. UT Austin case has prompted me to revisit my experience with affirmative action. I’ll never know for sure how big of a role affirmative action played in my admission to Stanford, but I am certain that it was a factor.

I am about to put myself on blast in multiple major ways. Some friends and acquaintances have heard my story, but most people I meet have absolutely no reason to believe that affirmative action policies had anything to do with my admission to this elite institution. That’s because, for those who do not know the details of my heritage, I appear to be a white person with no legacy who was admitted to Stanford based on “merit” alone.

I sometimes wish that were true. The thing is, though, is that I’m not just white. My mother is one-quarter African American, which makes me one-eighth – an octoroon, if we want to get Jim Crow with it. My dad is white. I identify with black culture in many ways, but to be honest, that probably has more to do with the fact that my dad played in an all-black gospel band in the ‘70s than my mom’s blackness.

When I applied to Stanford exactly four years ago, I checked the white box and the black box. Continue reading

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Progressive Summer Opportunities

Looking for a meaningful way to spend your summer? Stanford activists share their most memorable experiences.

ACLU National Prison Project
Sharada Jambulapati [sharjam@gmail.com]

I helped in the office by responding to prisoner mail and conducting research on legal cases, prisoner rights, and state correctional budgets. I enjoyed being in DC with top lawyers working on prisoner rights issues.  I was able to visit local jail facilities with lawyers and attend congressional hearings featuring Justice Breyer and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Van Anh Tran [vananht@stanford.edu]

I worked mainly in APEN’s Development Office and learned a lot about the work that goes into fundraising for a non-profit organization and grassroots fundraising techniques. This organization generally worked with the older immigrant population in Oakland’s Chinatown and the Laotian community in Richmond, California. In the past, they had campaigns to prevent Chevron from expanding their refinery in Richmond (which they succeeded to do!) When I worked there, there were efforts to teach the very pivotal population of Oakland’s Chinatown to vote. Near the end of my time that summer, APEN was starting an effort to create a coalition among the various environmental justice organizations in California to develop a grassroots effort to combat climate change and affect state policy. Also near the end of my time there, APEN was starting a campaign to combat the Dirty Energy Proposition (Prop 23). As an intern, I wrote letters to potential donors and allies and was able to attend many, many meetings–from attending a workshop for the elderly in Chinatown to listening to amazing Asian American activists speak about their experiences during the 1960s in APEN’s partner organizations in San Francisco. I was able to attend many rallies and was able to do precinct walks (related to Prop 23). Continue reading

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Nicki Minaj: The Flyest Feminist

by April Gregory, ’13

“You Could Be the King But Watch the Queen Conquer:”
Nicki Minaj as a Model of Empowerment for Female and/or Queer Youth

“In between the beats, booty shaking, and hedonistic abandon, I have to wonder if there isn’t something inherently unfeminist in supporting a music that repeatedly reduces me to tits and ass and encourages pimping on the regular.” Such is the dilemma of hip hop feminist Joan Morgan, author of When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost.  Like Morgan, I consider myself to be a fairly ardent feminist.  I also consider myself to be a fairly ardent hip hop fan.  It’s no secret that these two identities, as Morgan points out, are frequently in conflict with one another.

So imagine my utter bewilderment when, in 2009, I heard a woman spitting lyrics as crude and grimy as those coming out of the mouths of male rappers.  Nicki Minaj had flown into my hip hop radar with her mixtape “Beam Me Up, Scotty.”  Its cover art, which features Nicki and her bountiful curves in a skintight, barely there Wonder Woman outfit, was in itself enough to make the feminist in me have a stroke.  Her rhymes provoked equal alarm.  How could I, as a feminist, respect or support a woman who spit quasi-pornographic lines like “Bitches can’t find their man ‘cause I ride it good” (“Itty Bitty Piggy,” 2009) and “Maybe it’s time to put this pussy on your sideburns” (“BedRock,” 2009) while prancing around in outrageously stripper-esque garb?

To be blunt, Nicki Minaj frightened me.  Her abrasive, slightly schizophrenic tone and unabashed use of misogynistic diction made me uncomfortable.  I could not accept her brazen female sexuality as anything more than a ploy to obtain male attention and furthermore, I felt a little violated by the ease with which she could talk about her body and her sexual exploits.  As an ally of the queer community, I was likewise bothered by Nicki’s claim to be bisexual, which I perceived to be an exploitation of queer identity for the purpose of appealing to heterosexual male fantasies of lesbian and bisexual women.  And, above all, I was horrified by the fact that young girls were idolizing Nicki, especially the fourteen- and fifteen-year-old girls from East Palo Alto that I mentored through a college access program.

Then, on August 27, 2010, my relationship with Nicki Minaj was changed forever. Continue reading

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