upcoming events

in the next two weeks:

see all upcoming events


Do you have old cell phones or used ink cartridges and want to recycle them? Contact Liz Fossett.

dems poll

Unfortunately our poll cannot be displayed on this page.

georgetown dems blog

read the rest of the blog


Are you a Georgetown Dems alum? We'd love to hear what you're doing now!

subscribe to our mailing list

mailing list archive


It was when Dispatch brought out the African Children's Choir that I knew last night's concert was going to be a little different from the band's shows I'd seen before...

The concert was titled Dispatch: Zimbabwe, but, to be honest, I was a little cynical about the motivation behind the show. When I first heard the band was reuniting for three nights at Madison Square Garden, I was beyond excited. I love Dispatch, and I was anxious for any shot to see them, now that they've been defunct for three years. The purported purpose of the show was to raise money and awareness for the people of Zimbabwe who are suffering countless horrors and have little hope or opportunity to change. It was a noble goal, to be sure, but not necessarily attainable.

"How much could a rock show do?" I wondered. In the end, I wasn't sure how much it mattered, and I wanted to see the concert so I bought tickets, and made the trip from DC to NY to find out.

When I made it to the Garden, my faith in Dispatch to effect change through music was tested even more. I stepped out of Penn Station and into a sea of teenagers wearing tie-dyed concert t-shirts and $200 Tory Burch flats. My friend commented that it was like our prep school "Lawrenceville threw up on the Garden."

The audience (including us) was there for the show, not the cause.

But when we made it inside, a bunch of NGOs were tabling next to the souvenir stand. While I bought a nifty new t-shirt, my friend stopped by the KickAids table, and learned about their efforts to use what they call "grassroots soccer" to bring AIDS awareness and prevention education to children in Zimbabwe and other African countries devastated by the disease. It was a pretty cool group with a pretty cool idea, and they completely understood their audience. For a donation of $10, you got a woven bracelet that had KickAids beaded onto it. I saw tons of people wearing them, and the group must have raised a decent amount of money.

During the concert itself, the band interspersed their (amazing) performance with short documentaries about the problems facing Zimbabwe. The half of the audience that wasn't too drunk or stoned paid attention, but the videos weren't particularly informative, to be honest.

The best part of the show, and the band's best attempt at fulfilling the mission of the concert, were the handful of songs during which they were joined by the African Children's Choir. The choir is a really talented group of kids, and they were able to bring African dance to a very American genre of music and make it work really well. The kids were the more effective part of the show for the audience, as well. Every time they took the stage, the audience completely woke up and started paying attention to what the band was saying.

Okay. Now that I've rambled for what feels like pages (and for that, I apologize), here's my question:

As progressives, we are for fairness and equality and education and healthcare and social change and political integrity. We are for all these things in America, and we are for these things everywhere else. If music or celebrity can be used to open the eyes and ears of people who might not otherwise pay attention, is that enough?

In the aftermath of Dispatch: Zimbabwe (and on a much larger scale, Live Earth) , can "awareness" events really effect change? Or are they (as I've sometimes thought) just vanity events for the organizers?

I don't know if it really matters, but it's what I'm thinking about right now.


P.S. Go listen to "Elias" by Dispatch if you don't already know the song. It's about a man they met while traveling in Zimbabwe, and the death of his brother to AIDS is what inspired this weekend's concerts.