Our pal mediageek files a report from this weekend’s Allied Media Conference 2006 in Bowling Green, Ohio. It’s a meeting of media makers and media activists who want to make significant changes to our society (i.e. progressive to radical), not just make documentaries or elect Democrats to office.
I attended the conference last year, but opted not to go this year. It was fun and I met some good folks, but it had also been stressful (lots of reliance on strangers for transport and lodging). Also, with just the three days there last year, I feel like I’ve seen everything that Bowling Green has to offer (very small town). The conference is held in there every year because the organizers are students of Bowling Green State University, but I wish they’d pick some new locales for the future.
But back to the present.
One panel participant for the 2006 conference, a blogger named “brownfemipower”, writes on her site that this year had a theme “valorizing” hip-hop as a form of resistance. But she questions what that means, given all of the misogyny and homophobia running through hip-hop today. Hell, you could argue that in some of its common forms, hip-hop is a form of oppression, not liberation. That’s not my main point here, just wanted to mention it because it’s worth thinking about.
Anyhow, mediageek writes about one panel discussion that he sat in on, “Is This What Democracy Looks Like?”, focusing on the concrete impacts of independent media to social change, as well as equality and diversity within the independent media movement itself.
mediageek summarizes the aspects of the panel about blogging, specifically how the practice of blogging is effected by racism and sexism:
Blogger Susana Adama tackled race and gender head-on, challenging the notion that blogging is an inherently free and open medium. Instead, she says that there are standard structures that bloggers and readers expect blogs to adhere to.
Adama said that it took six months to bring together the Radical Women of Color Bloggers, in part because it was difficult for the women just to find each other. But that is just one of the struggles they face, because many white male readers react strongly and negatively to these women taking on race, gender and class is a critical fashion. The bloggers have to deal with a deluge of hate filled email and comments posted to their blogs.
Adama also noted the problem of other progressive blogs which may support the Radical Women of Color, but do not moderate their own comments sections, allowing them to fill up with hateful and racist comments aimed at the Women.
One audience member summed up the situation very clearly, saying, in effect, when you challenge white supremacy then many members of that ruling class is going to feel excluded. But you can’t go on appeasing them. Very simply, she said that it is a privilege in the first place for white people to say that they feel excluded.
I keep trying to write some commentary about mg’s summary here, but it’s so succint that my would-be comments seem redundant.
mg concludes with questions from one conference member, who asks “Media for what? Information for what?” Which is a very important question to ask. What is the end goal of our media making? What do we want to accomplish? Will our media efforts actually achieve this goal, or are we on the wrong path altogether?
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