Abagond is one of my favorite bloggers.Not only does he have a very economical writing style, but he has very creative critiques on stock arguments used by white racist commenters, racist media tropes and classics of Western literature. Of course, his terseness can at times leave much to the imagination, and he makes no attempt to hide his Thomism
His most recent post is one on Marissa Alexander, a Florida black woman who now faces 20 years inn prison for firing a gun in self-defense. Who was she defending herself against? Her abusive husband. Or so the story goes. Yet already the comparisons to another Florida case have started.
Like the Trayvon Martin media movement, it will fail. Even if she has the charges dropped, no major change in American society will take place. That’s because American black women have a serious image problem. See below, from the Huffington Post website:
Corey disputes the so-called warning shot into the ceiling with photographs that show bullet holes much lower, going through a kitchen wall and into the living room where Corey said Gray and his boys were.
“The fact that nobody got hurt has to be balanced with the fact that someone could have gotten hurt,” Corey said. “The kids being right next to him changed everything.”
About four months after Alexander was released on bail, on orders to have no contact with Gray, she got into an altercation with him at his home that gave him a black eye, Corey said.
Alexander was arrested and charged with battery, to which she pleaded no contest……”Everybody is still ignoring that she got out on bond and chose to go back over there and hit him a second time,” Corey said. “That was kind of an indication of where putting her on probation, where you might have been able to do that before, was off the table since she disregarded a judges order.”
In a 21st century media environment, where people are forced to navigate through dozens of of talking heads, hundreds of tweets, Facebook alerts and RSS Reader updates, people need their messages simple. Simpler than a newspaper article. Simpler than a 500 word word blog post. Simple as a stereotype.
This has nothing to do with civil rights. This is a public relations issue.
That is one of the main problems with blogs like Abagond’s. The message is simple, but directed towards the wrong people. Explaining something only unmasks that thing, it does not change it. In fact, it may only create a form of fatalism that is usually disguised with pie-in-the-sky hopes (reparations anyone?) and slave morality. Preaching to the crowd still leaves a crowd that only came to feel good. In 500 words.
When people think “Black woman” and “serious news” , who do you think comes to mind – Mae Carol Jemison? From Tawana Brawley to the Duke Lacrosse team case to the whole Srauss-Kahn incident, when people hear about black women, they think, “just give it a few more days.” That is why the us/them split when arguing on social issues inevitably fails, whether it be on talking head TV or on activist blogs. Both sides of the opposing argument demand unconditional surrender neither party will be willing to accept. But in a society with a massive power imbalance, in favour of middle-class white people, failure is the only option for everyone else.
500 words is good for the mediation of stereotypes – not their destruction. No, stereotypes can only only be manipulated, not destroyed. That should be one of the first things any movement should do, manage stereotypes.
The 1960’s Civil Rights movement in the United States is usually thought to have had started with Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat to white person while traveling on a bus. But a nine months previous, a young woman named Claudette Colvin had also refused to do the same thing . The reason why the Outkast song is named after the former, and not the latter woman is because the latter was not a woman at the time, but a pregnant 15 year old that was a walking stereotype of what white people think about black women.
What does Miss Colvin think about having Rosa Parks getting all the credit for giving up her seat?
“Let the people know Rosa Parks was the right person for the boycott. But also let them know that the attorneys took four other women to the Supreme Court to challenge the law that led to the end of segregation.”
At the time, the NAACP at least understood how to mold people’s perceptions, when it came to public relations. If they had the sense now that they had then, the Shirley Sherrod affair would be a model for how to manipulate media outlets – complete with how to edit and leak videos for maximum effect. Instead, you have this fool Julian Bond trying to fit into a news cycle that apparently runs off the same steroids that Usain Bolt uses.
Marissa Alexander, Trayvon Martin and the We are the 99% movement highlight the problems facing modern mass movements all over the world. The followers of these movements see the marching but not the backdoor meetings and thinking that took place to give people something to march about. Those backdoor meetings designed, not just the political strategy, but the necessary ideology that was created to address the political, legal and economic obstacles that faced. And those ideologies failed. And continue to fail. Marxism continues to be a joke, with Afro-centricism being an even bigger joke
The massive decentralization that has been enabled by social media has come to be a curse, not a blessing. People become organized as individual, amorphous agents, acting in massively parallel steps, but without command or control. They are a body without a head. A movement without direction. A people without an ideology.
No one has managed to come up with a successful, practical ideology that can rejuvenate the black and white American middle class. Which means that no one has come up come with an ideology of the Jamaican middle class, seeing has how we scorn originality like panhandlers and Jehovah’s Witnesses.Which has left both of our societies in a downward spiral that has resulted in mass de-industrialization, debt traps, speculative bubbles and hopelessness.
Being able to relate to the public is what will be the first step in mobilizing the middle classes to create the change that will be in their best interest. For too long, our thinkers have divorced themselves from the people, creating self-defeating narratives that are mainly retreads of past, failed ideologies. But that does not mean that the past is merely a garbage dump of ideas. We simply haven’t looked far enough into the past to show us the way forward.