When Social Media and Cause Engagement for Minorities Come Together

The use of communications during the struggle for social justice in the United States is far from being a novelty. News spread quickly by word of mouth when black college students started a host of nonviolent sit-ins in several states almost 50 years ago, as The Washington Post’s Krissah Thompson noted. Today, civil rights activists, particularly African Americans and Hispanics, have found in social media a powerful channel to voice their support for a cause and generate cause engagement, according to a latest study by Georgetown University and Ogilvy PR Worldwide.

The study found that nearly one in three African-American adults (30 percent) and four in 10 Hispanics (39 percent) say “they’re more likely to support a cause or social issue online than offline,” whereas one in five (24 percent) of Caucasians expressed the same interest. Likewise, a slight majority of African Americans (58 percent) and Hispanics (51 percent) are more likely to believe that they can help spread the word “about a social issue or cause through online social networks” adding that they feel they’re part of a community by supporting causes online --compared to 34 percent of Caucasians.

The study goes on to say that, although television and print media are still regarded as reliable sources to learn about causes, both African Americans and Hispanics are significantly “more likely than Caucasians to look for social media as an additional source of information (31 and 27 percent versus 21 percent, respectively.)”

The Georgetown/Ogilvy study seems to corroborate a number of successful online campaigns within minority-oriented organizations. Color of Change, for example, is an online civil rights group that has proactively used a large email list of subscribers to champion causes like the fundraising to help reduce charges for a half-dozen young black men in Jena, LA in 2007. Also, the NAACP enhanced its webpage in 2009, started a new blog site, and has revamped its online advocacy list that hovers around 400,000 members.

Also, Thompson noted that a study by the Pew Internet & Family Life Projectfound an increasing preference among minority Internet users for Twitter, and in the past decade, “the proportion of Internet users who are black or Hispanic has nearly doubled—from 11 percent to 21 percent.”

Minorities’ zeal to join causes online signals the importance of social media for furthering civil rights, hence changing the nature of activism nowadays. And it’s proof that, even amid the latest display of partisanship in Washington, communities in the United States can find unity by way of technology.

 

 

(Video link) Obama and Black Bloggers at White House

Well it looks like black bloggers are gaining opportunities for conversations at the highest levels of government in Washington, D.C. 

OK, let me re-state it differently: "Black bloggers who conditionally or unconditionally support the Obama administration are gaining DNC and White House conversation."

First there was the meeting of black bloggers with DNC Chairman Kaine (which I attended), then there was there was a  "black online summit" at the White House Monday as part of an outreach to African American journalists and bloggers before the midterm elections. 

According to reports from the Maynard Institute, even President Obama stopped by a "black online summit" at the White House Monday as part of an outreach to African American journalists and bloggers before the midterm elections, an effort that includes the Democratic National Committee spending what it calls an unprecedented $3 million to reach the most loyal part of Obama's base, African American voters.

"I thought the meeting was great in that it showed that President Obama and his administration are taking black new media and our growing influence seriously," David A. Wilson, managing editor of theGrio.com, told Journal-isms via e-mail.

 "They outlined how the administration's policies have had a positive effect on the African-American community and they invited us to make suggestions on how they could work better with us and provide us with more access to the White House.

However, Leutisha Stills, who blogs at Jack & Jill Politics, cautioned, "The summit was a good one and very comprehensive, but we made it known that if we really have 'influence,' we are going to test drive it and see how many more invites we get from the White House."

The Columbus Day session lasted from 9:15 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett present along with specialists from various parts of the administration, including the first lady's office. Among the 20 African Americans working on the Web were representatives of theRoot.com, Black Entertainment Television, Essence, Jack & Jill Politics, City Limits, Concrete Loop, AOL Black Voices, Black America Web and even the gossipy MediaTakeOut.

Monday's session is to be followed Friday by a presidential meeting with 10 members of the Trotter Group of African American columnists. Moreover, six or seven African American bloggers were credentialed for Obama's rally in Philadelphia last Sunday, although invitations were extended to about 20.

AAP says:  I was one of the 20 African American bloggers who was extended an invitation to be  credentialed for Obama's rally in Philadelphia last Sunday, unfortunately because of schedule conflicts, I was not able to attend the President's rally. 

The DNC and White House outreach effort with African American bloggers are noteworthy. The folks at Jack and Jill Politics and their partnership with Kevin S. Lewis , director, African American media for the White House is awesome. The work of senior DNC staffers, including Clyde E. Williams, Political Director for the DNC, along with Derrick L. Plummer, Regional Press Secretary,  and Jamiah Adams, New Media Constituency Manager at the DNC is equally as noteworthy. I can only wonder out loud if this effort is just to gain black blogger support for the mid-terms - only? I understand this is a political town.

Is the White House and the DNC reading the content of black blogger concerns regarding our economy and the need for the Obama administration to aggressively enforce of Federal contracting requirements, while establishing new programs in the Department of Commerce, and labor to address the need for job training and small business/micro business "grants" (not loans), for low-income urban dwellers?

I hope the DNC and The White House will continue to expand the working group to other progressive African American bloggers, such as  Afro-Netizen, Black CommentatorBlack Agenda Report, Field Negro, Faye Anderson, Oliver WillisPrometheus 6Republic of TSkeptical Brotha, and so many others, who may have other observations and thoughts regarding what the administration can do to "really" address issues like jobs, the economy, health care, education, community capacity-building, and investment in our communities. I'm hopeful that the DNC and the White House is not, what some may consider the pimping the growing influence of black bloggers Only smart work and full engagement on the part of all parties, and time will tell... 

As a black Independent voter and blogger, I remain cautiously hopeful.

UPDATE: Check out the news article in the NY Times about the black bloggers meeting with President Barack Obama. It includes video link of White House meeting with President Obama, Valarie Jarrett and Black bloggers, including corporate so-called afro-centric news groups,The Root (owned by (the Washington Post) and the Grio (owned by NBC)

 

                      Cross posted on African American Pundit Blog

 

Top 50 Influential African American Political Blogs

Here is my list of the top 50 African American Political Bloggers for 2010. 

As you will note, a number of these Bloggers don't just talk politics, yet they are great blogs to visit if your interested in black American political thoughts and opinions.  The list of the Top 50 African American Political Bloggers, are shown here in alphabetical order. If I were to rank the top 10 most influential African American Political blogs for 2010, they would include: Jack and Jill Politics, Oliver Willis, Pam's House Blend, Black Agenda Report, What About Our Daughters, Booker Rising, field Negro, Afro Neitzen, Black Prof, and Anderson at large.  

Top 50 African American Political Bloggers


 

 

There's more...

Is the person next to you being racially profiled?

From the Restore Fairness blog.

Roxana Orellana Santos was sitting by a pond and enjoying her lunch when two officers walked over to her and asked her for identification. They immediately took her into custody, detained her, and very soon she was handed over to government agents for possible deportation. For the month and a half that Roxana then spent federal custody, she was separated from her son, who was a 1 years old. She was released after 46 days.

Immigrant advocates later filed a civil rights lawsuit on her behalf, challenging her arrest, stating that neither of the police officers who questioned Roxana Santos had any authority to arrest her based on her immigration status. As Jose Perez from LatinoJustice (a New York-based nonprofit civil rights organization) said in the Washington Post-

Since there was never any suggestion of criminal activity by Ms. Orellana Santos, her questioning and detention were clearly based on one element: her ethnic appearance…This is the essence of racial profiling.

Why did the officers walk up to Roxana on that particular day? She had no criminal record and her information was not previously in the system. It seems to add up that she was asked for her identification purely based on her ethnic appearance. Unfortunately Roxana’s story is far from unique. Racial profiling is a very real and serious problem in the United States, and its integration with immigration enforcement in the past year has increased it by horrific leaps and bounds.

Racial profiling affects members of many communities across the country, including Latinos, African Americans, Arab Americans and Native Americans. Researchers at the Center on Race, Crime and Justice recently analyzed data provided by the New York Police Department (NYPD) examining the demographic trends of their stop-and-frisk policy and found that in 2009, African Americans and Hispanics were stopped at a rate that was 9 times higher than whites, even though they account for only 27% and 24% of the population of New York City. And once stopped, they were far more likely to be frisked and faced with physical force than whites who were stopped.

Even though profiling people on the basis of their race and ethnicity is a deeply alarming trend, a recent study found that subjecting the issue to public scrutiny is one of the most effective ways to reduce racial profiling. Heightened coverage in the media has proved to reduce racial profiling practices of police officers in routine traffic stops, making it important to highlight individual stories and put pressure on the authorities to respect civil rights.

Make a difference by writing a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Assistant Secretary John Morton in ending an egregious immigration enforcement program that has led to many racial profiling and civil rights abuses. Take action now.

Photo courtesy of allpsychologycareers.com

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

 

 

Does your race and income matter if you face the death penalty?

From the Restore Fairness blog.

It is no secret that the country’s criminal justice system has consistently proven to be biased against minority communities of color. Statistics published by the NAACP show that even amongst those found guilty of crimes, African-Americans continue to be disproportionately sentenced to life in prison, face higher drug sentences, and are executed at higher rates when compared to people of other races. Michelle Alexander speaks of a “color-coded caste system” in The New Jim Crow that marginalized communities who encounter the criminal justice system.

Seasoned Texas attorney David R. Dow’s new book The Autobiography of an Execution provides an exploration of the death penalty, written through the eyes of a man who has spent 20 years defending over a hundred death-row inmates, most of whom died, and most of whom were guilty. As the head litigator for the Texas Defender Service, a non profit legal aid organization in the state that boasts the highest number of executions since 1976, Dow presents a powerful argument against the death penalty system. Candidly exploring how he balances such a trying job with being a good father and husband, Dow’s extremely personal book only works to strengthen the argument that the broken criminal justice system operates on a vicious cycle based on racial and economic disparity.

In his book, Dow opposes the unequal basis on which some criminals are sentenced to be executed while others aren’t, and deems the criminal justice system “racist, classist (and) unprincipled.” He opposes the death penalty as a flawed and unjust facet of the criminal justice system. Based on his experience, he notes that while he believes that a majority of the clients he represented were, in fact, guilty, there was very little separating those criminals from others who were guilty of the same crime, other than “the operation of what I consider to be insidious types of prejudice.” Most unsettling is his severe mistrust of members of the justice system – police officers, prosecutors and judges – whom he believes would “violate their oaths of office” and put men and women on death row who they think “deserve to be there”.

In Dow’s exploration of the politics behind the death penalty, perhaps the most tenacious argument against it is the blatant way that the intersections of race and class influence the outcome of a criminal case. Dow says,

…if you’re going to commit murder, you want to be white, and you want to be wealthy — so that you can hire a first-class lawyer — and you want to kill a black person. And if [you are], the odds of your being sentenced to death are basically zero…It’s one thing to say that rich people should be able to drive Ferraris and poor people should have to take the bus. It’s very different to say that rich people should get treated one way by the state’s criminal-justice system and poor people should get treated another way. But that is the system that we have.

Dow’s book reflects all that is wrong with a social system that perpetuates inequality based on race and income, and a criminal justice system that feeds off prejudice in its sentencing and prosecution methods. More than ever, a lot needs to be done to ensure that the criminal justice system functions on the principles of “fairness” that are implicit in its definition, and not those of difference and persecution. Photo courtesy of chicagotribune.com

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

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