When Jay Matthews, a rising junior midfielder on women’s soccer, founded WOCCA in March, the need for a space dedicated to Cornell’s female athletes of color was already obvious. Now, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and increased attention to police brutality nationwide, the group is increasingly vital for projecting the voices of Cornell’s black athletes.
Growing up just outside of Washington, D.C., I had ample interaction with the federal government. My dad worked for a government contractor, the parents and neighbors of friends were government employees and officials of all levels of importance and, most importantly, the daily mass migration of federal workers from their jobs often left me stuck on gridlocked roads between about 4:30 and 7:00 p.m. To this day, when I meet somebody from outside the area I grew up in, I introduce myself as being from D.C., because it often feels like I am just as much a part of what happens in D.C. as are those who actually live there. In every way but one, this is categorically false; the speed with which I take back this claim when I mistakenly make it to an actual resident of the District is evidence enough of that. And yet, I, along with every other resident of Virginia, Maryland and the other 48 states in the union, have one thing that those who live in the capital do not: representation in the government that sits there. Residents of D.C. have no voting representation in Congress, despite taking in those which the rest of the country seems to collectively loathe and then having to be under more direct control of those 535 people than any other municipality.
A pretentious person I know referred to this year’s batch of Oscar-nominated short films as a “mixed bag,” which in my mind means that they must be pretty good. My personal favorite, “The Eleven O’Clock,” is a delightfully original comedy about a patient of a psychiatrist who believes he’s the psychiatrist. The rest of them are nearly as good, albeit a deal more serious. “The Silent Child” tells the story of a deaf girl whose parents fail to get her the help she needs, while “Watu Wote” addresses Christian-Muslim conflicts in Africa. These serious films are so unabashedly serious that they almost come across as narrative-based public service announcements; each credit sequence is peppered with statistics, authentic footage and calls to action.
The depths of YouTube can be perilous. You may begin by watching “How Star Wars Should Have Ended” videos or clips of Marco Rubio short-circuiting and spouting the same empty phrases in N.H. or a Beyoncé interview on the Oprah show. But one click leads to another and you trip and fall into a compulsive matrix of streamed content you never intended to watch in the first place. That scene of Stefon leads you to Bill Hader’s Saturday Night Live audition, which leads you to every SNL skit ever made, which leads you to cats, which leads you to waffles, which leads you to … cat waffles? (True story.)
Despite the toothless material you may encounter on the site, there are nonetheless some videos of high cultural quality – videos that feature linear narratives over an online miniseries format so they’re more accessible to their viewers.
In her legendary New York Times interview with Rihanna, Miranda July notes that she hesitated to ask Rihanna what it is like to be a powerful young black woman: anxious that the pop star would be put off by the question because, perhaps, Rihanna felt herself post-racial. When July finally, cringing, brought herself to ask a timid and diluted version of her question, “did you suddenly feel aware of race in a different way when you moved to New York?” Rihanna articulated an unapologetically honest answer which, I hope, shamed July for assuming that Rihanna would be as squeamish to talk about race as she was. The interview, “A Very Revealing Conversation With Rihanna” is undeniably well-crafted, engrossing and charismatic, even moving. It also largely ignores, or at least shies away from the racial difference between its characters. I would say that this is a similar predicament to that of AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama, The Walking Dead.