Air Grant Jordan's Performance! END student censorship and racially biased discrimination.
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To the students of San Diego State University and residents of San Diego,
My name is Grant Jordan, and I am a musician and student of political science at San Diego State University. Today, I want to speak clearly about the issue of censorship and racially biased discrimination at the university, and the form in which I have observed it. I also want to invite you to sign this petition to protect student freedoms at San Diego State.
On August 19th, 2020, San Diego State University’s Associated Student Body asked me to prerecord a virtual musical performance that would be aired on September 2nd. The only instructions I was given were to prerecord a musical set of an unspecified length, and for it to be ready by August 26th. A staff member even encouraged me to film and create the performance in whichever capacity was the most feasible for me during the pandemic and on short notice. I proceeded to submit the performance the day that it was due and awaited a response.
Later in the day, an employee informed me that they would not air my performance as it was, as they had requested an “unedited” performance. This was written in an addendum to the performance contract that was sent to me the day before the performance was due, meaning that the performance was already filmed and edited. The contract was not finalized until after I had already sent the performance to the university. I explained to them that I felt that they were not being respectful of the issue’s clear sensitivity, and the time and effort that my bandmate and I had put into preparing the performance. Again, the only instruction that I was given was to provide a prerecorded show that would be streamed virtually.
The next email that I received clearly showed what their real grievance was. In my performance video, I play through the entirety of my upcoming album, “East County”. The third song we played in the set is, “Postmodern,” a song I wrote in the days following George Floyd’s murder and the looting and rioting in La Mesa. Before the song began, I inserted a news clip from ABC10 News in San Diego showing images of the rioting in La Mesa. The clip runs for about 20 seconds, and is followed by the names of just a few of the Black Americans killed unjustly by law enforcement.
A different staff member responded to me, this time claiming that they would not air my performance due to copyright infringement in the form of that ABC news clip. If I may, allow me to read the copyright policy for news media footage:
"The American Bar Association defines fair use: In the general sense, with no hard-and-fast rules, [fair use] is the use of copyrighted material without permission from the appropriate copyright owner for a limited and, as the courts deem, “transformative” purpose so as to comment on, criticize, or parody such copyrighted work. Specifically, the Supreme Court emphasized that the transformative nature of the use determines whether the material has been used to assist in the creation of something new, rather than merely copied verbatim into another work."
Although I was born in 2001, political awareness in my lifetime began with President Barack Obama. For many years, race equality felt like a given to me. I grew up in a tolerant, progressive family. I spent too many years unaware of the true, systemic racism happening around me. Too long accepting the status-quo as the norm.
My use of the news report was intended to create a segue into a moment of recognition for those killed by the police. The song itself comments directly on the recent racial tension, with a lyric literally stating, “There’s riots in the streets. What is happening?” A simple sentiment that can be echoed across this country as the malice and blatant racism of American Law Enforcement becomes more and more apparent. Lately, so many of us have been witness to the effects of racism in the form of riots, vandalism, and violence.
Having spent my entire life in the beautiful ethnic melting pot of Southern California, I’m shocked and appalled by San Diego State University’s declining my performance video solely because it contains a news media clip that is covered under fair use. I’m appalled because I believe that they know that the clip is covered under fair use, and I believe that the university is afraid to be honest about the current state of affairs. I grew up in La Mesa, where cars and businesses were burnt to the ground in protest of the tragic murder of George Floyd. This is not an issue I ever expected to have, considering the university’s generally liberal policies.
Associated Students organizes nearly all campus events at San Diego State, which is why I felt compelled to share this today. I don’t want SDSU’s students to be censored. I think I speak for every student at the university when I say that we want an outlet to express our beliefs. We don’t want to have our freedom of speech stifled by Associated Students. That is why tonight, I am launching this change.org petition for the university to air my performance as it is and to give the names of the good American citizens brutally killed by law enforcement officers the publicity, prayers, and empathy that is morally right for them to receive. Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Aura Rosser and so so many more names need to be heard, and San Diego State University would be directly silencing student voices should this performance not air. I invite you all to sign the petition, not only to protect your own freedoms, but to protect those of every student. Thank you for your time. Stay safe.
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