The business side of my brain, the part that has been indoctrinated to chase profits and quantify success by the MBA I earned at Johns Hopkins University, wants to mark today as a milestone and celebrate a phenomenal achievement. The article I wrote less than 5 hours ago about Jay Z and his new album (From Judas to Jay Z) has gone viral in ways that is boggling my mind. In all honesty, the article was written as an afterthought. It was not even the article I was going to write until I read a post on Facebook about Jay Z that moved me to change articles mid-stream and write about the Rockefeller stool pigeon instead. An afterthought article written on a little known website is currently lighting up social media to such an extent that I had to pay for the next tier of hosting so that the servers could handle the influx of traffic.
This is what writers and publications live for; independent journalists do what we do out of one part passion and one part hope that we too can become opinion leaders. To pretend that I don’t have ambitions for Ghion Journal to become a trend setter and a news breaker is to partake in duplicity. Accordingly, I should be popping bottles at this precise moment as I am witnessing Google analytics lighting up like a Christmas tree with people around the globe flocking to the Jay Z article. When I take a look back at the trajectory of the Ghion Journal, the Jay Z article could very well be the one missive that enabled us to reach escape velocity and enter the psyche of the broader public.
But this one thought gnaws at me, is this the beginning of me subverting my gift in order to chase mass appeal? Perhaps its the artist in me that insists on remaining a purist. I am pretty sure other people who love to create understand my angst. Artists, from painter, writer, dancer to musician, are faced with a decision all the time. Do we modify our work in order to cultivate a mass audience or do we remain true to our art and remain anonymous. This is a conundrum wrapped in a riddle; idealists have a way of being homeless yet inverting our souls in order to attract a following is one that eventually subsumes artists into a state of gloom. I am pretty sure most people go through bouts of writers’ block and creative atrophy because we arrive at a point where our craft becomes a profession.
Keith Haring was an amazing artist and a social activist from New York who used his art to speak against commercialism and the depraved practices of corporatism. He used subways and billboards to stand against the vapidity of materialism—he became New York’s most famous tagger. Graffiti art reached new heights because Keith Haring’s endless procession of tags became a part of the NYC landscape. Once considered a scofflaw and a petty criminal, the more he persisted, the more Keith started to garner a following. He became an underground sensation and soon enough Keith’s name became synonymous with the art of tagging.
It was at this moment that the devil’s lasso was thrown at the feet of Keith Haring. A liquor company approached Keith and asked him create a logo that would focus his graffiti as their central message. Discovery was now knocking at Keith’s door; fame was all the sudden seducing this once rebel who used to speak against corporatism. It is easy to speak against evil when one is not being courted by the wicked, but when the wicked come offering money and notoriety, who among us can say no to that offer? Heck even Iyesus was tempted by the devil once, the hardest offers to turn down involve those that pull at our egos. Keith would go on to designed one logo after another for companies like Coca-Cola and and Absolute Vodka—the man who spoke against corporatism became a promoter of it.
So the inflection point is before me as well. Maybe not today or tomorrow but sometime soon. Do I let the very same evils of corporatism and greed I speak against become the devil’s lasso at my feet? Do I stand strong and believe in the people and that we can have a media that is not dependent on corporatism? Moreover, will I insist on writing articles that are catered to open-minded readers or will I decide to take the path often traveled and start catering to the whims of readers who value sensationalism over critical thinking? I wrote an article yesterday (Jonah or Joseph) which has been shared 75 times in 24 hours. Not bad seeing the article was published late on a Saturday night. But yet an article I write today about Jay Z gets over three times as many shares and literally ten times the eyeballs in less than a third of the time it has been published compared to the Jonah versus Joseph article.
We keep looking for change externally yet we keep feeding ourselves feces internally. We accept smut even as we rage against idiocy, we take part in sensationalism as we protest against sensationalism. I am not going to give up though, sure at times I will write about the fatuity of Jay Z and the imbecility of Donald Trump. But along the way, I will write articles like the one I wrote about my dad and Whitney (One Moment in Time) that moved people to inbox me and tell me that they cried reading what I wrote. Whether or not Ghion Journal takes off, reaches escape velocity and becomes counterweight to the criminal Corporate State Media is up to you and the readers of who visit this space and whether or not enough people decide to be a part of our journey. But on my end, I will remain true to my journey and refuse the devil’s lasso that inverts the sous of many aspiring revolutionary thinkers. #GhionJournal
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Latest posts by Lij Teodrose Fikremariam (see all)
- Ethiopia’s Choice: Poverty through Grievance or Prosperity through Unity - September 9, 2019
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- A Matter of Life or Death: We Cannot Afford to Ignore Mental Illnesses Any Longer - August 17, 2019