By Cindy Lumpkin
Recently, I read an article written by a dear friend and Huffington Post blogger, Erin Harper, entitled VH1 Protest Organizer Explains Why She is Full of Hate. But don’t let that title fool you.
Erin wrote the article in response to being called a “hater” after courageously organizing a boycott of VH1 in response to the premier of their latest “reality” TV show. In this article, she coins the term Mass Media University (MMU). I was floored! The creative name defines the social institution that teaches many girls and women that the power of their gender is tied more to what they look like, who their friends are, what they wear and how “sexy” they are than to character or achievement.
Like many of us, Erin admits to having had an identity battle that she didn’t realize she was fighting. She speaks of having valued her name brand clothes and the boyfriend she thought would become her husband, over the prestigious degree she earned from Spelman College.
“MMU is the largest, most powerful unaccredited organization in the world; so powerful that many of us are enrolled right now and have no idea. At MMU, students don’t declare a major, because mass media is the only major available. We attend class, but we are not allowed to comment or question the instructor. The rigid and narrow current curriculum only consists of a few television networks, music genres, movies, magazines, and websites. Books are often prohibited. Many of our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents attended, or are still enrolled at, MMU.–Erin Harper”
MMU’s curriculum ensures comprehension of several principles.
- “If you don’t have an expensive handbag, red soles on your shoes, or a particular type of weave, then you aren’t as valuable.”
- “You must do whatever you have to do to get these desired material goods, even if it involves selling your body or someone else’s.”
- “Single is shameful. Engaging in a relationship with a married man is better than being single.”
- “If you have a boyfriend or husband and he isn’t of a certain social status, you’re worthless.”
- “You must ‘ride or die’ for your man, even if he treats you terribly.”
- “The darker you skin and the shorter your hair, the less pretty you are.”
- “If you don’t have a ‘coke bottle’ shape, then you’re probably too fat or too skinny.”
- “If your facial features are not angular, you’re ugly.”
- “When you get your Prince Charming, the ring that he buys must be a certain size or quality, or you should question your worth and possibly his, too.”
- “Money and material goods make you happy, and better than others.”
- “Spending is better than saving.”
- “If you’re from a low-income or working class family, the organizations that you join, the events that you attend, and the things that you wear and drive will allow others to perceive you as middle or upper class and you will be more readily accepted and respected.”
- “If you’re from an upper class family, your associations with other class groups could damage your social status. If you’re not doing charity work, do not associate with other class groups.”
- “Don’t speak out against social inequities, you might get fired from your good paying job, or never get hired in the first place.”
How many of us have acted on what we’ve learned from MMU? How many of us are still enrolled in MMU? Are you able to identify your ties to this school of thought? I will be the first to raise my hand. I am guilty as charged. I have (at some points in my life) allowed society to dictate to me my identity; what I should wear, who I should hang around, what I should drive and how I should think. But not anymore, I am a proud drop-out and I want others to be courageous enough to join me.
Here are some things you can do to become the next dropout of MMU:
- Develop and strengthen your relationship with Christ. MMU has been so successful in terms of its enrollment because many women and young girls don’t recognize their identity in Christ. Growing your love for Him is key to establishing a healthy love for yourself. It limits the influences of the world around you and their impact by increasing self-esteem.
- Spend time reading His Word. As you strengthen your relationship with Christ there is a naturally occurring phenomenon: you will start to develop His character. Recognizing these traits comes from studying the Word. This will help you be less concerned about “self-interest” and the material things we often use to make ourselves feel like we have “arrived.”
- Limit the amount non-edifying media you read and watch. As the old adage goes, “You are what you eat.” Be careful about what you allow into your spirit. If you put garbage in, then garbage will come out. The reason the media has such a strong influence upon us is because the more we read it and watch it, the stronger an appetite we develop for it.
- Identify your dream and go after it. When you have a dream and you are focused on accomplishing it, it’s hard for the media (or anyone else, for that matter) to push you off the road leading to your goal. Pursue your calling with everything in you.
- Identify an innocent little girl close to you. Change isn’t change until you’ve changed. Unfortunately, change is hard and sometimes we are in a place where our “self” isn’t enough motivation to do things differently. But, if you look into the eye of your innocent daughter, sister, mentee, she can be the catalyst you need to make positive change in your own life. Remember, she is watching you. She will travel down whatever road you lead her. Be conscious of the path you’re creating for her to follow.
We have to get real here ladies. Take off the mask. Until we recognize there is a problem, we can’t fix it. If you are still enrolled at MMU, I encourage you to drop out. Then make it your mission to help others dis-enroll. I like B.L.O.G. Magazine co-founder Katrina Smith’s motto for her ministry called The Butterfly Movement which is “Changing the woman within today, to save the women of tomorrow.”
Until we save ourselves, none of the precious little girls coming behind us will have a chance. Will you become a “hater” and take a stand?
Please take a look at my promotional video for my new book that addresses theses issues, titled In Search of True Beauty coming soon!
Contributing Writer, B.L.O.G. Magazine
Cindy holds a Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration from Clark Atlanta University. She recently resigned her post in public education to be a stay-at-home mom to Miss Aubrey. She is founder and Executive Director of TRIUMPH in Life, Inc., a non-profit organization design to empower students with learning disabilities. Cindy is also the author of “Destined for Success” and soon to be released “In Search of True Beauty.” Connect with Cindy via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cindylumpkin or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org