Race and New Media: Post-Face, Call to Arms
promoted by roxy
First, let me introduce myself to the E Pluribus webspace: Annie Seaton, Aaron Barlow's erstwhile sidekick, collaborator, and co-conspirator. We intend, together, to reform most of what remains of Western Civilization. Hola! What follows is my post-face on the "Race and New Media" (after this RANM) conference. Ironically, this conference on "new" media, organized partly via email, googlechat, and Facebook, had its origins in a series of "real"-world encounters I'll introduce various protagonists, with an eye to their future appearance on these pages--
I met Omar Wasow (the future founder of Blackplanet.com) at Stanford in 1991. Back then, Omar was talkin' about rallying the "Mulatto Nation,"-- the hybridized and hybridizing with an ironic bent towards subversion. Today, Omar brings that same flair to his racial and political iconoclasm as a Government/Af-Am PhD candidate and tech analyst.
A few years later, there came a doppleganger: the ever-charming Joel Rainey, whose lefty politics merge interestingly with both his work in 18th and 19th century French history and his Harvard legacy status. Joel and I are both trying to unravel our white privilege, but since he has twice as much of it, he has to work harder. Wellesley Prof Diana Williams was another friend from then, then as now, obsessed with the deconstruction of American racial narratives. A few years later, I met Mitch (Velma) McEwen of Superfront.org, who has recently introduced me to Baratunde Thurston, another Harvard alum. Mitch, an architect and theorist, was once my Mellon Tutorial student. Another student of mine, in two different courses, was Otis Gaddis, who I actually first accosted as a 120 pound frosh. Otis later studied both Marxist African Economic History and Queer Theory with me. Whether enacting the Truth and Reconciliation debates or querying the intersections of white privilege and queer nomenclature, Otis was/is Otis. After doing law school at Georgetown, Otis will now become an Episcopal Priest--and he's about to attend Yale Divinity School. At this point, I'm as much student as teacher. Around the same time, I also came upon Ashwini Sukthankar, a Harvard Literature Concentration undergraduate-- whose husband, Peter Rosenblum, is now a law professor at Columbia. Ashwini, an international human rights lawyer, will definitely be coming to next year's conference. Thanks to Ashwini, I met Kenneth Page, an MTA Union lawyer, who enlivened the "Race, New Media, and Religion" panel. Attending Lafayette Avenue Church introduced me to David Dyson and Mike McNamara, who interlocuted with Otis and Kenny. Lafayette Avenue is a polyglot space of leftists, gays and lesbians, activists, long-time Brooklynites, and many media mavens. A chance meeting at Crunch gym brought me Josue Leconte, and Fordham Law School's brilliant Ebone Bishop came via my friend Darwin Marcus Johnson, also a vital presence in organizing and shaping RNM. Good friends, old and new, coming together--across "race," whatever that means, across gender, generation, and academic or professional disciplines. I just wanted to acknowledge, again, what all of these relationships, new and old, have done for me personally: I feel so lucky, and I just want to expand this circle!
I want to continue the "Race, Religion, and New Media," and "Constructions of Obama" panels and the (still virtual) "Virtual Racism" panel online. Using the E Pluribus Media webspace, we can post papers, comments, and links, and stop wasting Food Coop and Sepia Bar chats. I'd like to organize specific spaces for each of these panels to continue "virtually."
Second, many of us will be working on an edited volume which will come out of this process. This will be both a re-shaping of conference material as well as something entirely different--not a record of proceedings, but a new venture flavored by the event.
Third: ASAP: we'll post the "live" audio from RANM!
New Projects: Josue Leconte has already spoken to me about a documentary he's working on that involves Haitian politics. He'd like to organize a mini-conference with a panel, and to have some of "us" participate--I am very enthusiastic about this idea, and a few others are already. To be talked about over dinner and online! Perhaps, soon, clips from the documentary as well.
Let's try to envision this as the initial space for the funded think-tank that Aaron and I have spoken about building around Race and New Media. After all, we're here in what is both the most segregated city in America (I know, shocking, isn't it?). NYC is also--of course-- a global media capital. Where better to center a project on Race and New Media than in Downtown Brooklyn, the meeting point of the "new" gentrified Bo-co-ca and the "old"--the nearby projects, the hyper-segregation of Brownstone Brooklyn, and the preponderance of members of the chattering class?
What should we take on? Race, New Media, and: ????? your thoughts? I'm thinking about housing, poverty, and a whole host of other issues--both as represented in and by the media, but also as things that can be "taken on" as issues and "presented" in interesting and challenging ways.
I'm also interested in making next year's conference FAR more "multi" media--thoughts about that also welcome--in terms of radical notions of both form and content--