'We all deserve at a bare minimum - a little RESPECT' (Aretha Franklin)
From time to time issues arise in society which captivate the attention of our young people on which they form strong views. In itself, this is good as we want our students to be socially engaged, to be thinkers and to contribute to the good of society. It is best that they do this in a spirit of humility, knowing that we all learn from others.
In a democracy that cherishes freedom of speech, people have the right to express a point of view without condemnation or harassment. Any disagreement should be conducted respectfully, rationally and reasonably. History provided us with a multitude of lessons where people have had to courage to speak up for the rights of others only to be persecuted or imprisoned for their efforts. Civil rights leaders such as Nelson Mandella, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Junior readily spring to mind.
I have been greatly impressed by the energy and commitment of our new Student Representative Council who are demonstrating great initiative in designing strategies to tackle a number of issues that will improve our School. We now allocate time at each School Assembly for our SRC to speak to the student body and to gather support for causes the students feel strongly about. Student voice is an important aspect within any school for if positive change to attitude and practice is to be made, the students must have ownership in the process.
In a democratic society – ideas will be contested and universal agreement is rare. This insight is particularly important for young people who bring to their opinions the passion, exuberance and idealism of youth, not always tempered by much life experience. What is important, particularly in a school setting, is that our discussions are always respectful, measured and reasonable.
I congratulate our SRC for their initiative, courage and commitment to express their desire to make KWS a finer place and for the mature and respectful manner in which they are clearly expressing their view. Well done!
The world recently lost a woman who used her marvellous talents as a singer and performer as a platform to combat injustice and disrespect in society.
During our recent School Assembly, I took a moment to pay tribute to Aretha Franklin, the great African American singer who has passed away at the age of 76. For more than half a century, her music etched itself into popular culture and her talent and omnipresence earned her the title ‘The Queen of Soul’.
In the hours following her death, Presidents rushed to praise Aretha’s contribution.
But Aretha Franklin was far more than a singer. She used her magnificent voice and the platform it provided for advancing feminism and the civil rights. She was a powerful advocate for the black community and black women in particular. Aretha did not walk the middle line in an effort not to offend white sensibilities - she comfortably embraced her authentic blackness in both her music and activism. Her song choice strongly reflected this sensibility and this was at a time in 1960’s and 1970’s where women and African American people experienced great oppression and inequality.
Former American President, Barack Obama captured Aretha Franklin’s significance when he said:
“American history wells up when Aretha sings. Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African American Spiritual, the Blues, R&B, Rock and Roll – the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope.”
Franklin’s first great hit RESPECT was released in 1967 and it became an instant classic. It was not the first version of the song which was originally sung by a man. She took the song and made it her own, altering some of the words and while maintaining the theme of respect shifted the focus from a woman showing respect to her man, to the respect we should all give to women.
During her life, Aretha demonstrated an unapologetic and fierce commitment to the cause of social justice in all its forms and fought for the rights of black women. She defended the oppressed and imprisoned at a time when it was dangerous to do so.
Aretha powerfully demonstrated the values that we strive to live at Kinross Wolaroi. She was a woman of courage and resilience, who valued respect and inclusiveness and displayed a commitment to the creation of a just and fair society.
Franklin’s songs were a testament to the struggles of black woman and as such were deeply political.
She will be remembered not only for her majestic voice and the power of her music but also for her shrewd political courage.