Recently, a storm has brewed over allegations by popular radio host Michael Baisden that progressive advocacy group, ColorofChange.org, has defrauded one of the Jena 6 families.
It is a serious, unsubstantiated and ridiculous charge from a man who took the lead in the corporate radio community to advocate for and promote the Jena 6. But that said, while we're all entitled to differing opinions, we're not entitled to different facts.
Afro-Netizen unequivocally supports ColorOfChange.org. They represent the future and power of renewed civic engagement in our communities. They honor the spirit of generations of Blackfolk and other freedom-fighters who organized around the message instead of merely venerating a given messenger.
ColorOfChange.org promotes and thrives on decentralization, diffusing influence and resources to individuals from all walks of life to get involved in ways that the cults of charismatic leadership discourage and corporate media fear.
I do not know Micheal Baisden, nor listen to his show (and rarely listen to corporate radio). So, this is really not a counter-attack. Because, really, this is not about whether Baisden is "good or bad". It's analogous to the common expression, "Do you see the glass as half-full or half-empty?". Because in actuality, any many contexts, the best answers come from related, but unasked questions like, "What's in the glass?" and "Who's glass is it?"
Michael Baisden may not be an employee for ABC Radio, but as long as ABC doesn't kick him off the air, he's doing their bidding. And doing their bidding is essentially producing consistently high ratings to increase their advertising rates and revenues towards maximizing shareholder value for what is a publicly-held media titan -- one of only a handful of such behemoths that is strangling our democracy and so-called "free speech".
ColorOfChange.org is a progressive, independent and under-resourced non-profit. It is a labor of love by its stakeholders, manifested as an innovative civic enterprise whose potential is only limited by the commitment, creativity and energy of its ever-growing membership.
ColorOfChange.org is an honorable and vital member of 21st Century freedom-fighters with whom Afro-Netizen stands shoulder to shoulder.
Interestingly, on Michael Baisden's own website, he chose to highlight his Jena-related activity with a photo of him & Rev. Al Sharpton, while giving no mention to ColorOfChange.org nor the Black netroots community whatsoever who predated his on-air efforts to promote the Jena 6 affair.
But again, this matter is bigger than both Baisden and ColorOfChange.org.
This is about whether we allow corporate media to facilitate COINTELPRO 2.0 to divide and conquer the emerging Black netroots community.
Many entrenched Negroes who have poo-pooed those of us in the Black netroots community as lap dogs of "white liberal activists" (read: MoveOn.org), are afraid that they will have to become accountable to the rhetoric they have almost begun to believe after all these years without the antiseptic of transparency.
The reality is, Afro-Netizen need not name names in this regard. But toward interested readers doing their own research on who's promoting whose agenda, as my late hell-raising activist maternal grandmother (inspiring the moniker "Geronimo" by Baltimore politicos) liked to remind me sternly: "Consider the source!" (Not unlike the ever sanguine pearl: "Follow the money.")
This is why media literacy is so important to disadvantaged communities who do not genuinely control their own media. Because if we knew who owns what and what they are are about, the current and future Baisden-like fiascoes would be taken for what they are: distractions from the much larger threat of media consolidation at the expense of widening and amplifying the diverse, autonomous voices of communities color.
And for all the good things Baisden may have said or done around Jena and other salient issues, if you haven't heard him mention "media literacy", "media consolidation" or "media justice", now you know why.