The Finale of Reflections

John Rodriguez

“You will take all you want from me
Oh, the innocence I lack
You will take all you want from me
But I will take it all back in the end”


I have love for my project, and the opportunity to do this work, because of the unexpected lessons I have learned about this country, music and myself through the duration of this program.

Firstly, I have always believed that change is possible. But this project has taught me that something greater than legislation has to change in order for equality. From Black Panthers to #BLACKLIVESMATTER, nothing has really changed but the time period. During Black Panther Era, activists complied with toning down their demand of complete overthrow of democracy for seeing more Black people in political positions; assuming that Black faces in high places would help stop Black death from government hands. However, still we are fighting and protesting for the same demands. I learned a while a go that the true definition of insanity is repeating something over and over again expecting a different result. And I wouldn’t say this experience made me a communist, but I have realized something greater than legislation has to change in order to make the greatest change.

From my experience of making beats and songs, I know that everything a person hears on a track is intentional; rarely anything is put randomly. Revisiting this album, but from a research perspective, opened my eyes to how deep an artist can go with their lyrics. One can tell their story, another’s story, or relay a message. After reading the historical ramifications of Black leaders using their influence to harm their people, and seeing Lamar’s struggle with complacency, I have vowed to use my privilege and power, as an academic student and artist, to never be complacent to injustices that occur back home and wherever. Not a lot of my brothers back home get the opportunity to research and gauge their interests, so I will make sure I always put on for them and myself.

Speaking of myself, working on this project has given me the chance delve deeper into my consciousness and analyze my own decisions. hooks’s novel Rock My Soul really opened up the conversation of what is self-esteem and how one knows their own mental state. It is intriguing how such a personal conversation is easier to hold with words on a page rather than with a person. Throughout my time hear I have also heard “the thing that makes you the most uncomfortable/scared, write that”. So, as a writer, I’ll hold myself to that and make more honest pieces.

The only thing I would change about my time here is that I wish I learned more about Sarah. Throughout your time of helping all of us, you’ve been able to see bits and pieces of our passions and interests. So far, I’ve been under the assumption that we would see each other face-to-face more over these years and that, then, I would have the chance to see your interests. But, what I have learned is that you are a great person that makes the absolute best out of what she’s given; thus, I am excited to see what is to come when you start helping others build their Digital Humanities programs. I already know I’m going to see the rest of you around campus so no need to get mushy like Daniel’s pasta.

“I’ll never lay down and die
For I am all that is love
All that is light
I’ll never compromise
For I was born of this world
To take back the night”


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