Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jena 6: 'Blogrevolt'

I have been trying to put into context the manner in which the Jena 6 ‘blogrevolt’ has been conveniently turned into a black-white issue by the mainstream media and others.

Part of my thinking began with a comment on Tom's blog (Automatic Preference). My thoughts were initially provoked by a re-posted article at Indigena.

The reporter, Nicole Berry, in her article,"Black Bloggers Raised Awareness of Jena 6 that MSM Ignored" highlights the coming together (in loose terms) of an Afrospear or blackosphere that did not exist a year ago.

I thought wait a minute. It is more than just that is it not? There may have been a coming together of black bloggers but the Jena 6 'blog-movement' comprises more than just black bloggers. For example, Tom was instrumental in the Jena 6 online petition that has garnered at last count over 412 000 signatures. And, I am willing to bet that a huge number of the signatories are Latino, Asian, Indian, white, Other(s), etc.

Why then the haste to contextualize this as a black/African-American 'blogrevolt'? Who is benefitting from this kind of simplification?

In my experience it is the media and other special interest organizations that benefit by massaging facts into set agendas. The media sells race. And Jena 6 is selling newspapers and air time because it is framed to incite historical cleavages.

But it is exactly the 'after-the-fact' reporting/analysis of any issue that tends to strip its complexity. This is particularly true of race.

The US media is primed to fashion issues into convenient race-speak analysis and stereotypical soundbites, etc.

So, I have been thinking about Jena 6, the petition, and the 'blogrevolt', and letting my thoughts form more concretely before saying what needs to be said.

I think it important to note that Jena 6 is about an historical race abuse. It is about racism directed at Blacks. And it is about white privilege and white denial too.

But in terms of defining the ‘blogrevolt’, it is important to note that despite the new blackosphere-whitosphere binary, there were/are bloggers of multiple identities that trounced the racial divide to stand up for justice in Jena.

Multiple identities, across races/cultures, gender, sexuality, class, etc. But also an international input into the ‘blogrevolt’.

The Jena 6 'blogrevolt' is in many respects an advancement of ‘cyber-struggle’. I say advancement because it shows the meshing of 'cyber-activism' across standing divisions. But also the relationship that 'cyber-activists' have with the media, mainstream and other, and people in general.

In the Jena 6 instance, 'cyber-struggle' lead the way. People in the US and across the world were informed about the Jenna 6 by committed bloggers. Even where the blogger was not intensely involved, Jenna 6 was always at the very least a present reality.

What is profound to me is the manner in which this new method of struggle impairs the nation-state and its conformity. This includes a blurring of race lines to a significant extent.

Onlookers, such as the media, some blog communities, and celibrity-activists like Jackson and Sharpton, are playing catch-up for real (as the article above points out).

But that catch-up is not a mere adding of information, or details. It is about understanding the ‘blogrevolt’ phenomenon.

I use ‘blogrevolt’ to conceptualize what I am thinking. Even as I write it occurs to me that I am catching-up too.

Dissent has crossed many boundaries. And Jena 6 is a primary instigator of the phenomenon. A new taking to the streets. The 'blogostreets' if you will.

The‘blogostreet’ revolt was cemented by the peaceful marchers in Jena.

But, in the end I am still uncomfortable to see how this aspect is being machined to fit a tired frame the media and others wants to impose yet again.

One that replicates the system. Makes ‘commonsense’ of the hegemonic racial ordering, even where it is difficult to see race as the primary motivator behind the ‘blogrevolt’.

The media alone is not to be blamed here. There are many late-hangers that will just assume that the ‘blogrevolt’ formed around the division of black activism vs. white injustice. Of course with a sprinkling of others and whites too.

They would be sorely misled. In terms of the Jena 6 case, the ‘blogrevolt’ is a surprise, and the beginning of a new form of struggle, at least in terms that describe the reality of 'blog-activism' in the US.

The streets will always exist. The fields too. The streets/fields are where the people show-up to fight revolutions. But the era of boundary-crossing, and inclusive, ‘blogrevolt’ is here too.

The next frontier is whether the 'blogrevolt' phenomenon can be sustained. And whether it can be organized into an identifiable and comprehensive movement that will motivate, and expand, 'cyber-struggle'.


ps. I have adapted this post significantly from my comment at Tom's blog.


Tom said...

Ridwan, I keep thinking about this.

It may be too obvious to say that the other side of the Jena Six issue, those who oppose us, they are the ones who are united by race. They are pretty much white, I believe.

Ridwan said...

Tom you are most likely right about those who oppose.

It is the nature of the US.

Which makes it necessary to cast the 'blogrevolt' as primarily a black blogger concern.

It is the 'commonsense' of hegemonic whiteness.


Dione said...

Firstly, I think its important for all individuals to back this one up. Human rights, free thinking, and not putting people into "boxes". I agree it's a waste to oversimplify.

What I really find interesting is your Media Sells Race point! That is so true, and I have seen so much of this comming from an, u know, unfortunate retail back ground... I have seen media sell race in so many ways- comercialising race. This is when young people no longer know who or where they are and what they should do because they are waiting for the media public to let them know. Interesting stuff, we need to support these issues.


Ridwan said...

Thanks for looking in Dione.

Race sells for sure, and even though most would argue that it is not a scientific category, we treat it as such anyway.

How far have we really come since the end of WWII when genetic research put the science of race to sleep?

Not too far, Sociobiology merely reframes of the same racist assumptions.


Dione said...

I think our evolution is pretty sad honestly. I even see us going backwards over the last 7-10 years.

Social responsibility comes in, its up to every individual to do their part to educate their children and inform their public!

thanks for blogg'n :)

Dade Cariaga said...

Hi, Ridwan.

From the media angle: isn't this just another symptom of the blending of news and entertainment? News shows want ratings, so they shade stories in the way that they imagine will attract the most viewers. Aside from the lack of objectivity of today's "journalism," it is a sad reflection of what we, the public, deem to be entertainment...


Heading out to Africa. I'll try to keep in touch. Take care.

Ridwan said...

Hello Dade. I think that is exactly what has happened here brother. Absolutely square on.

So where in the continent are you headed?

Travel safely and do keep in touch. I will look forward to hearing about your experiences in the motherland.

Be well.