The Evangelists of Social Media

The Evangelists of Social Media

Tue, 10/12/2010 – 23:43 — Jared Ball

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Just because millions of people can interact at the speed of light, does not mean they are going anywhere. Indeed, by providing the illusion of common action, social media tend to suppress the kind of methodical organizing necessary to sustain a real “movement.” And, who owns the new media, anyway? The super-rich. Social media are “perfect for illusion-development and propaganda dissemination but horrible for the oppressed engaged in political struggle.”

The Evangelists of Social Media

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

All this persistent chatter about new media technology improving the world – and improving even radical political organization – is little more than a de facto public relations campaign.”

The “evangelists of social media,” according to Malcolm Gladwell, want us to believe that the revolution we all want has simply been awaiting Twitter or Facebook accounts. And having now achieved them by the hundreds of thousands these evangelists would have us believe that success – political, economic or social – is inevitable. But all this persistent chatter about new media technology improving the world – and improving even radical political organization – is little more than a de facto public relations campaign. Somehow that which happens to increase the ability of the “superclass” to enrich itself and promote its interests can also, coincidentally, make possible the revolution that will overthrow them. Its pure propaganda, the effect of which is to help reduce our capacity to develop radical political movements.

There would seem, also coincidentally, more than a passing connection between the deplorable state of radical politics in this country and this rising mythology of “social media” leading us to a new organizational promised land. More than a few speakers and participants at the recent One Nation rally congratulated Facebook and Twitter users for helping to mobilize more people faster than at any other time in history. This is actually a popular theme among activists at most of their gatherings these days. But worse still was that these voices included NAACP President and Chief Executive Officer Benjamin Jealous. The statement was made as if this storied organization, whatever we may think of it, had never before been able to organize its members. As if the problem the NAACP has faced all these years was an inability to move so many so quickly. This praises speed at the expense of careful education and reasoning. Or was the NAACP’s involvement merely a hired response to an even more compromised labor movement?

The internet gives us weakly-tied lose bonds of “networks” which create mobs of uninformed, untrained, ill-prepared sheep.”

Remember, Rosa Parks did not sit down that day as some random act of a tired worker. She did so because she had been trained to do so since she joined the NAACP in 1932. We discredit our struggle by dismissing acts of courage as simple accidents as opposed to the results of careful planning and strategy. The original March on Washington had at least as many participants as this One Nation silliness. The Million Man March, also in the pre-internet era, had 10 times more. Shoot, African people in this country have been fighting so long to develop powerful and threatening alternative methods of communication that as far back as 1775 John Adams, fearing the impending rebellions that came with reasoned, planned and strategic communication noted that “The Negroes have a wonderful art of communicating intelligence among themselves.”

The speed of the internet is more than mitigated by the absence of thoughtfulness, intimate strategy and reasoned planning that most often accompanies it. If anything, we should consider this the intent of military technology imposed on us with the sleekest of public relations techniques. While it may at times make our lives easier it can also quickly give us any number of branded phenomena from tennis shoes to presidents, from movies to social movements. This in part is Gladwell’s point. The lunch counter takeovers that launched the modern civil rights movement occurred at the tail end of planning, strategy, training and all with a “military precision” from what he calls the “strong-tie” intimacy of ordered, hierarchical organization. On the other hand, the internet gives us weakly-tied lose bonds of “networks” which create mobs of uninformed, untrained, ill-prepared sheep perfect for illusion-development and propaganda dissemination but horrible for the oppressed engaged in political struggle.

Our use of the internet should be only to promote support for locally-based community media, from community, low-power and mixtape radio ventures to intimate in-person grassroots political organization. Gladwell was indeed correct, “the revolution won’t be tweeted” and neither will it be cheap, easy or come at the speed of a clicking mouse.

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. Online visit

Jared Ball can be reached at

Cornel West, Tavis Smiley Join for New Radio Show

Cornel West, Tavis Smiley Join for New Radio Show

Date: Monday, October 18, 2010, 4:24 am By: Tonya Pendleton,

Princeton scholar and author Dr. Cornel West (above) and Tavis Smiley have now combined forces for a new radio show. They’re both authors and well-known for their communication skills. They both are committed to improving the African-American community. They are talk show host and author Tavis Smiley and Princeton professor and author Cornel West, and the talkative duo has now combined forces for a new radio show. “Smiley and West” premiered on Oct. 1 and will be broadcast by Public Radio International. The two will continue to operate on separate coasts, but will be heard together on the show.

For a 12-week test run, the show will replace the second hour of “The Tavis Smiley Show” on PRI. As always in these cases, response after the 12 weeks will determine if the collaboration will continue. “Dr. West is a long-time friend, and I am honored that he has agreed to go on this journey with me,” said Smiley. “This new venture, ‘Smiley and West,’ will not only set the pace for tomorrow’s news but will be a conduit for the insightful conversation that America is thirsting for. I’m excited that alongside one of America’s greatest thinkers, we will encourage, enlighten and empower the listeners together.” The show is interactive in nature, with a special segment called “Take ‘Em To Task” that invites listeners to do just that to the celebrated duo on a variety of hot topics.

“Many of America’s most important discussions aren’t necessarily happening in the boardroom or between the pundits on cable television,” West said. “Rather they’re happening at BBQs, cocktail parties, barber shops, and salons between real people. With this new endeavor, ‘Smiley and West,’ Tavis and I hope to really tap into the concerns of everyday people.” So far, “Smiley and West” have taken on New York State’s food stamp crackdown, the death of blues legend Solomon Burke, Glenn Beck, Bishop Eddie Long and the prayer life of Dr. Martin Luther King. While you might imagine that the two are so verbose no one could get a word in edgewise, Smiley and West are actually a pretty good tag team. Think Jordan and Pippen back in the Chicago Bulls’ championship heyday, but with both able to score major points.

 To listen to the show online, please visit, and for schedules for the Tavis Smiley Radio Show in your area, click here.

The Case for Obama

The Case for Obama

The charges are familiar: He’s a compromiser who hasn’t stood up to the GOP or Wall Street. But a look at his record reveals something even more startling — a truly historic presidency

By  Tim Dickinson

Oct 13, 2010 1:15 PM EDT

The following is an article from the October 28, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone.

Less than halfway through his first term, Obama has compiled a remarkable track record. As president, he has rewritten America’s social contract to make health care accessible for all citizens. He has brought 100,000 troops home from war and forged a once-unthinkable consensus around the endgame for the Bush administration’s $3 trillion blunder in Iraq. He has secured sweeping financial reforms that elevate the rights of consumers over Wall Street bankers and give regulators powerful new tools to prevent another collapse. And most important of all, he has achieved all of this while moving boldly to ward off another Great Depression and put the country back on a halting path to recovery.

Along the way, Obama delivered record tax cuts to the middle class and slashed nearly $200 billion in corporate welfare — reinvesting that money to make college more accessible and Medicare more solvent. He single-handedly prevented the collapse of the Big Three automakers — saving more than 1 million jobs — and brought Big Tobacco, at last, under the yoke of federal regulation. Even in the face of congressional intransigence on climate change, he has fought to constrain carbon pollution by executive fiat and to invest $200 billion in clean energy — an initiative bigger than John F. Kennedy’s moonshot and one that’s on track to double America’s capacity to generate renewable energy by the end of Obama’s first term.

On the social front, he has improved pay parity for women and hate-crime protections for gays and lesbians. He has brought a measure of sanity to the drug war, reducing the sentencing disparity for crack cocaine while granting states wide latitude to experiment with marijuana laws. And he has installed two young, female justices on the Supreme Court, creating what Brinkley calls “an Obama imprint on the court for generations.”

What’s even more impressive about Obama’s accomplishments, historians say, is the fractious political coalition he had to marshal to victory. “He didn’t have the majority that LBJ had,” says Goodwin. Indeed, Johnson could count on 68 Democratic senators to pass Medicare, Medicaid and the Voting Rights Act. For his part, Franklin Roosevelt had the backing of 69 Senate Democrats when he passed Social Security in 1935. At its zenith, Obama’s governing coalition in the Senate comprised 57 Democrats, a socialist, a Republican turncoat — and Joe Lieberman.

In his quest for progress, Obama has also had to maneuver against an unrelenting head wind from the “Party of No” and its billionaire backers. “Obama is harassed as well as opposed,” says Princeton historian Sean Wilentz. “The crazy Republican right is now unfettered. You’ve got a Senate with no adult leadership. And Obama’s up against Rupert Murdoch, Dick Armey, the Koch brothers and the rest of the professional right.” Compared to the opposition faced by the most transformative Democratic presidents, adds Wilentz, “it’s a wholly different scale.”

Despite such obstacles, Obama has succeeded in forging a progressive legacy that, anchored by health care reform, puts him “into the same conversation with FDR and LBJ,” says Brinkley, “though those two accomplished more.” Goodwin, herself a former Johnson aide, likens the thrust of Obama’s social agenda to LBJ’s historic package of measures known as the Great Society. “What is comparable,” she says, “is the idea of using government to expand social and economic justice. That’s what the health care bill is about. That’s what Obama tried to do with the financial reforms. That’s what he’s doing with education. The Great Society was about using the collective energies of the nation to make life better for more people — and that’s what Obama has tried to do.”

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Can I Get a Witness?: Who’s Really Getting Screwed in the Black Church

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Can I Get a Witness?: Who’s Really Getting Screwed in the Black Church

by David Ikard

Nation of Cowards

Several years back a close black clergy friend of mine was having marital problems.

 He discovered that his wife was having an affair and was struggling to reconcile the relationship.

In need of spiritual counsel, he sought out the advice of several of his clergy colleagues. To a man, he was advised to seek out the “sexual comfort” of his flock. Take the edge off, so to speak, and even the score with his wife.

Once the deed was done, the thinking went, he would be of a mind to return to his wife and reconcile the marriage. Though my clergy friend was acutely aware of the abuses of patriarchal leadership in the black church, even he was taken aback by the perverse level of male entitlement and sexual exploitation.
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A (not so) Super Hero: The Rise and Fall of Eddie Long (via The Goldie Taylor Project)

Goldie Taylor, OCG guest, October 9, 2010.

A (not so) Super Hero: The Rise and Fall of Eddie Long  I’ve long been leery of clergymen who give themselves lofty titles.  Rather than settle for something as pedestrian as “pastor” or “reverend” there now seems to be a bumper crop of self anointed “bishops” and “prophets”.  Those men, and women too, seem to enjoy the trappings of velveteen covered pulpits, nicely tailored suits and finely designed luxury cars far more than the trappings of the bibles they thump and community uplift.  But where, how … Read More

via The Goldie Taylor Project

Chasing Perfection (via The Goldie Taylor Project)

Goldie muses brillantly.

Chasing Perfection “If I may pay you a compliment, your beauty is flawless.” As the words appeared on the screen, I nearly spit out the homemade lemon and syrup concoction I’d been force feeding myself for the last three days.  The idea that someone found me beautiful, let alone flawless, was a show stopping notion.  After all, at 42, I’ve got plenty of flaws.  The only thing that hasn’t aged, it seems, are my wondrously hazel-green eyes and even they need the righ … Read More

via The Goldie Taylor Project

Mad at Mad Men

My Post on Mad at Mad Men

by Salamishah Tillet on Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 10:42am


The creators of Mad Men get so many things right in this period television series. Too bad they get black women so wrong.

Mad at Mad Men

By Salamishah Tillet

In Mad Men, AMC’s seminal series on the 1960s advertising scene, all the women are white, all the blacks are men and, well, the rest of us non-male colored folks are housekeepers and Playboy bunnies. At least, that’s what one would think watching the show lauded by The Washington Post as “TV’s most feminist show.”

Mad Men is all about progressive gender politics — as long as it comes wrapped in white skin. For female viewers who both enjoy Mad Men and come wrapped in brown skin, watching the show can be a frustrating experience.

For the fourth season, Mad Men, which comes to a close on Sunday, the civil rights movement serves as little more than a decorative backdrop. Now set between 1964 and 1965, the show continues to wonderfully detail the fall and the failures of its patriarch, Don Draper, while also exploring the limited gender roles that stifle white suburban housewives, like Betty Draper-turned-Francis, and the sexual harassment and gender discrimination that plague working women, like Peggy Olson and Joan Harris. 

In fact, the show’s creative representations of white male chauvinism and a budding white feminist movement is best captured in the ninth episode of this season, “Beautiful Girls,” which oddly pits the fomenting civil rights movement against the budding feminist movement. When Abe, a white male hipster, sits down with Peggy and waxes philosophic about revolution — particularly the upheaval in Greece and the civil rights movement in America — Peggy quickly interrupts, “Most of the things that Negroes can’t do, I can’t do, and no one seems to care.” Abe chides: “All right, Peggy, we’ll have a civil rights march for women.”


The civil rights movement, it seems, was for black men only.   

Read the Full Essay @The

Black Bloggers at the White House Summit

Black Bloggers Blast Obama For Gossip-Oriented Black Bloggers Summit

Mr. President, you forgot about us!

President Barack Obama and the generally Internet savvy Obama White House made a major misstep in the execution of what’s called “The Black Bloggers Summit” held October 11th at The White House.

The trouble is – and yes, for this blogger it’s whining, so let’s get that out of the way – a number of prominent political bloggers who happen to be African American, or black if you prefer, were left off the list, including this blogger.

Instead, representatives from, City Limits, Black Entertainment Television (BET), Essence, Jack & Jill Politics, Concrete Loop, AOL Black Voices, Black America Web and MediaTakeOut, to name some of the bloggers, were invited. 

And guess what? crashed today under the weight of its new Internet traffic levels. Great way to get President Obama’s message out there.  Geez.

As explained as  

That really is the question. A number of black bloggers are taking the White House to task for asking black gossip bloggers to come, and those representing obviously “black” blogs, rather than inviting bloggers who have larger reach with major news sites who happen to be black.

While some looked at the effort with tongue in cheek criticism, others, like Oliver Willis, a powerful political blogger who happens to be black, completely ignored it, and the UK (England!) DailyMail  used it to essentially lie about what happened – that one blog, Jack and Jill Politics, said it “refused to be pimped.”

That was taken out of context by the DailyMail for political purposes. What Jack and Jill Politics blogger “The Christian Progressive Liberal” was explaining was that she was happy President Obama walked into the room, but blogged “if you want me at the dance, I better get something in RETURN. One can always be pimped – it is a whole different ballgame when you’re treated like you have the influence to change the course of events.

The problem is by not having a big black blogger tent, or a big blogger tent, President Obama created an Internet climate of criticism from those left out of the summit, and praise only from those allowed in to it. Moreover, the President allowed in group of bloggers who don’t seem to know what “off the record” means. Opps.

After all, a blogger who calls herself “HappyAboutThis” wasn’t happy at all about the Obama Black Bloggers Summit:

“Tell anyone who reads that the site was invited to the White House for a policy briefing and discussion as part of its effort to “broaden online engagement with the black community and it will be at least 5 minutes before you can continue the conversation due to the laughter that will ensue….Media Take Out and Young Black and Fabulous are known to print highly speculative and, in many cases, clearly false information about people in the public eye. Much of the content on Media Take Out web site is graphic and certainly not safe for viewing on your work computer. What could they possibly add to a conversation about Obama’s healthcare, education, and civil rights policies?”

What can we expect? They’re gossip bloggers, right?Stay tuned.

Read more: 

“Not a one of the bloggers represents a major news site or has connections to one, and people like the legendary Oliver Willis, or John Ridley, or for that matter, Zennie Abraham, er, me, weren’t there. Hell, this blogger didn’t even get an invitation. Yes, gossip is done here, but so is politics, and in large measure.

And for all of the effective blogging Zennie62 did when it was “Zennie’s Zeitgeist” and one of 128 blogs credentialed for the Democratic National Convention? With all of the CNN iReport work this video blogger did at the DNC 2008? With all of the Obama Rapid Response work done to put Barack in the White House? For being on the websites of Mediaite, the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, and Seattle Post-Intelligencer?

Just what brand of weed the White House is smoking is the question of the day.”

Feedback: Black Suicide: Breaking the Silence, Facing the New Realities 10-09-10

10/10/2010 2:11 PM
Bj…thank you for producing this wonderful show that deals with such an important topic in our community. I admire your fearlessness…going where few dare to tread…and know that you are on the road to helping us heal our deep-seated wounds. You know I fully agree with your statement, “we fail to love each other in a way that is honest, direct and open,” and that we keep too many “goddamned secrets.” Yes, in these ways we participate in killing each other…those closes
8/15/2010 10:31 AM
Really important, incredible and informative show, this one MUST be heard!

8/15/2010 12:37 AM
Amazing Show !