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--

No votes yet


any friend of Aaron's is of course a friend of ours.

I am interested in your thoughts on virtual spaces ... if you know what you are looking to create [in terms of software], let me know. If you just want to kick around ideas ... let me know what you have in mind as a starting point.

We can post multimedia files here, and if you have any problems with it, please give me a shout -- roxy AT epluribusmedia.org.

ePMedia ... get the scoop with us!
If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

I was thinking, just as a start, of what we intended (but didn't do) for the conference--which was to do the panels as virtual dialogues, with thoughts, notes, questions, links, etc.--how to imagine a virtual "panel" in cyberspace--that's a very interesting question, because the intention would be to organize them by "subject," or even by "speaker," in some relatively distinct way--and at the same time, I'd love for it to be part of the pre-existing "race and new media" webspace on e p m, as well as the larger epm community?

Exciting ideas, and yes, let's kick around some ideas.
Avatars are possible, multimedia is possible, flash etc.
As Roxy says, let us know. We'd love to do this!

One little gal that we worked up for ePluribus Media last year.

... but I am always interested in the language used in media when covering events.

Last year I found revealing the language used in the Shays and McKinney incidents with Capitol police. I wrote it up quickly back on the old Community site Chris Shays touches officer's nametag; Cynthia McKinney struck. Two events very similar, but the language used in the press was intriguing. I would love to see more deconstruction done -- even though it's been done, and done, and done. But maybe it needs to be done some more.

or is that impossible?

[haha]Seriously, I think we can probably come up with something that will work for ya ... let me mull it over and see what I can come up with.

ePMedia ... get the scoop with us!
If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

Welcome. It is good to see new directions being created.

But I need some help from you, because you are talking about a construct that you and your friends understand well but means nothing to me as an outsider.

Race and New Media? O.K I understand the words but not why they have been brought into juxtaposition. All things develop from where they began but I need to know a bit more about what your starting position is and where you hope to progress to in your discussions. So my basic question is: why do you attach race to universal questions such as housing, health care and poverty?

Anyone who is a friend of Aaron Barlow is worth listening to - I enjoy reading his posts. In my main role now as an observer and note taker on what I see happening on our blogs, I shall log onto to your discussions with interest.

nice to see you around. :)

Aaron's most recent project, Race and New Media, is described here and you can find commentaries from some of the students here.

ePMedia ... get the scoop with us!
If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

Believe me, it is nice to be around still :) I trot up to the clininc every three weeks to be fuelled for the next three weeks more regularly than I put gas into the Discovery.

It is weird not knowing if you will actually find out who the next president will be. I find the experience so unusual that it intrigues me enormously and I am prodding about examining my reaction to this with interest. I blog much less, if at all, not because I don't think that I have a valid perspective on issues but because it is now so peculiar to my condition that I daren't trust its authenticity.

Anyhow, thanks for the links. I shall follow them and learn.

ePMedia ... get the scoop with us!
If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

I knew that my question about linking race to universal issues was naive. I have always been naive on such matters, to the extent that it can sometimes anger American friends and can be seen as being racist by its very expression.

It is not a lack of awareness, a rich white boy's unthinking failure to recognise black issues or the struggles that they have had and still have. It is something that is borne out of the European Liberal and Quaker traditions, a personal blindness to religion, gender, sexual orientation and colour that allows the magnificence of a sense of one world and one humanity. It can leave us blinking and disorientated when thrust into the dazzling spotlight of what is to some degree a peculiarly American approach to these issues (An approach from which Europe has learnt a great deal).

Not that I am claiming any real difference exists between the problems in Europe and the States. It is just this personal thing that I am like a child in the school playground. I have never truly recognised the differences in those with whom I am running around with, playing our games. I do not see that we come from different countries, backgrounds and, yes, have different colours. I do not see because they do not exist in my childs mind's eye.

"What!" I was once asked by an American in a bar in Virginia. "How can you deal with racial issues if you refuse to first recognise the differences. It leaves yourself stupidly uneducated and uncomprehending about our problems" The point is right, of course. In some matters I am no more effective, and have been no more effective, than a child. It is an innocence that has made it possible for me to know and love some wonderful people without ever having a barrier to cross.

(I know that people may misread this comment and I am sorry if it can cause offence to those brave enough to confront more maturely these issues. I am sure that I am not expressing myself well and in my clumsiness make worse my intent. I wish this new venture great success and I will learn much from it.)

So glad to see your thoughtful comments ... We've been keeping you in our thoughts.

I know I should have remembered, but I didn't, that you were Quaker. I think that has as much to do with your perspective as your illness. For one thing, though I cannot speak for them, I suspect that your perspective is similar to Aaron's who is also Quaker.

If one is brought up without the insidious little chips and nippets of racial stereotyping, then does one just see people..?

Black folk,
Brown folk,
Yellow folk,
White folk,
Red folk,
Just folk.