Via Founding Bloggers.
Earlier this month, The White House invited some Black bloggers to The White House for a meeting. I found it interesting that none of the Black bloggers who do work on race, gender, community activism, whom I know, were NOT present.
Here are some posts on it:
White House Meeting for Black Journalists Doesn’t Stay off the Record Long. @ The New York Times.
In Defense of Black Bloggers Having a Relationship with the White House @Jack and Jill Politics.
Black Bloggers Get Played by the White House @ Black Agenda Report.
This reminded me of a post I read last year titled “Can African American’s Find Their Voice in Cyberspace?” by Henry Jenkins of MIT’s Media Lab.
The post is a transcript of a conversation between Jenkins and Dayna Cunningham, Director of the Community Innovator’s Lab at MIT based on a lecture she gave in his? New Media Literacies class.
This spoke to me for two reasons. First, I am a Black woman and self identified feminist who has been blogging regularly for nearly five years. The earlier posts where shorter and more interested in hip hop, news analysis and my reflections in law school. In 2008 I began to write short and long form essays about street harassment, gentrification, Black women, masculinity, femininity and my dating life.
Second that I am interested in the tension between blog advertisers and blog audience and how this impacts Black voice online.
@Rafikam says you can only serve your audience or your advertisers. Rarely both. Highly niche sites can do this.? I would be willing to, ON MY OWN terms. Feministing is a site that is able to do this. However, I would imagine that there are limits to this as well.
Thirdly, I am interested in using social media as a politcal education and awareness raising tool.
I am going to quote some of Dayna Cunningham’s conversation and add some commentary beneath. You know what it is.
What is Black Discourse?
Let me start by saying that from where I stand, collective discourse, debate, dissent and demand are crucially necessary for building the political will to advance African Americans’ equity claims. Black voice is critical to this process.
Cool.? Discourse is debate, conversation about something.
She is not talking about ANY discourse but the discourse online related to Black people’s freedom in the US.
Where does Black voice come from?
Black voice stems from the schizophrenic daily experience of being un-free in a society that claims freedom as its first principle. Black voice provides a unique, and I would argue, necessary, perspective on the failures of American democratic institutions.
We ALL know about this. I mean, we learn it at an early age, across class meaning, we learn it no matter how much money our parents make. Money can buffer some of the effects of racism, trust, but at the end of the day Black is Black.
How White Folks Agenda’s Affect Black Politics
Electoral and legislative campaigns by definition demand cultivation of the white electoral majority’s opinions and carry inherent risk that they will censure claims or interests that are unpleasant to that majority.
This may be very hard for folks to appreciate and digest. But she is basically saying that focusing on elections and all that, historically, involves catering to and pushing against what working class (folks with retail jobs)? and elite white folks? (Wall streeter’s, Madison avenue executives, College professors, Fortune 500 CEO’s) THINK Back folks should have.
Making Politician’s Do Right By Us
Without a prior agenda-setting discourse enabling African American communities to arrive at some collective decisions about their shared future, I can’t imagine either innovation in support of, or accountability to, black concerns.
She is asking, how can we hold politicians accountable to us, if WE don’t talk about and define an agenda?
I would argue that today, black politics has largely been reduced to the electoral and legislative spheres; African American media too often promote black celebrity and individual advancement, and along with much of the black civic infrastructure, rarely focus on freedom discourse as a means of exploring strategies for collective political action and accountability to black interests.
What does it mean that some of the biggest Black blogs online are press release mills that lightweight resemble Jet + Ebony lite?
What I am asking us to think about is the significance of the most heavily trafficked Black voices online being sites fascinated with celebrity.
Do we want to do something about it?
Are their people doing something about it?
What are the consequences of doing nothing?
Does the election of President Obama mean that Black Voice doesn’t matter?
Has Obama’s election signaled the dawn of a post-racial moment in which black voice no longer is relevant or necessary? Not likely. African American progress has ground to a halt since the early 1970s, coinciding with a series of policy assaults that shifted massive state and federal resources from increasingly-black cities to suburbs. These policy assaults, cutting social advancement while criminalizing poverty, occurred during Democratic as well as Republican administrations and at all levels of government regardless of the presence of black elected officials.
Wow. So. Since the ’70′s the federal and state money followed white folks and affluent folks of color out of the city into the suburbs. True. #ShoutOutToTheWaronDrugs. And in many ways, I would add that that money is on its way back as affluent people return to the cities.
The Majority of White Folks DID Not Vote for President Obama
The majority of whites did not support Obama (according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, McCain/Palin carried the white popular vote nationally, 55-43 percent). They are even less likely to support the kinds of radical policy interventions needed to reverse the last thirty years’ conscious and systematic disinvestment in black communities.
Talk about post racial fantasies. Somebody smoking crills.
Whats the difference between electing a candidate and getting your groups agenda met?
I would argue that though it will create rich opportunities for people to gain political experience and to engage in important forms of collective action, the Obama post-election process is unlikely to be a sound substitute for the political process of black freedom discourse.
Electing a someone is not the same as making them do right so your hood looks the way YOU think it should look.
Black Folks on the Internet Speaking Back to the Majority.
How would it provide opportunities for people to hear a range of policy proposals and decide which ones they prefer? How would it enable debate? How would it give access to deeply marginalized black voices–gang-involved kids, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, undocumented immigrants, HIV/AIDS survivors? How can these groups find opportunities for speech back to the majority?
Here she is asking how marginalized folks can use the internet to speak back to the majority.
Lots of information to digest.
What can you do?
1. Learn who is on your city council and vote.
2. Learn who is on your local school board and if it is possible vote or support someone on there that whose politics you support.
3. Become a part of your cities police civilian review board, which monitors allegations of police abuse.
4. Read about Black Political History? Here is a short starter reading list:
- Living for the Revolution-black feminism, history
- Autobiography of Malcolm X- Black men, Islam, leader, personal transformation
- Yo Mama’s Dysfunctional- race, gender analysis, urban sociology, pop culture
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed- education made by and for students not principals and boards of ed.
5. Find an old head in your community to talk about the political history of your city/town.
6.Read something from the above list or share a link below. Do you have any other ideas? Any other readings, videos, online essays that should be added to the list.
7. Adopt a politician or a first grade class. And stay on them.Share on Facebook