There seems to be a lot of hateration in the universe towards black bloggers these days. First it was Michael Biasden, then Stephen A. Smith. Now locally James Ragland has taken on Mike Davis at Dallas Progress. I thought I'd combine my thoughts on two events in one post.
The USA Today posts an article on their website by Yolanda Young titled Blacks' protests lack unity of purpose. In the brief article, Ms. Young speaks on black leadership, the need for cohesion and transparency in the civil rights movement, and protest overkill
She devotes 1/3 of her short piece to discrepancies surrounding money donated for the legal defense of the Jena 6. Ms. Young says that pictures have surfaced of a defendant "with $100 bills stuffed in his mouth and two others posing like gansta rappers." How do you pose like gangsta rappers?
She also talks about Bell's lawyers not being paid. What does that have to do with the civil rights movement?
Imagine that, 1/3 of all funds allocated for rebuilding Iraq are unaccounted for, and a few thousand dollars at odds in Jena, Louisiana continues to make headlines. This is what I mean when I talk about images in the media disproportionately twisted against black folks. It happens every day.
I do agree with Ms. Young's assessment that after the Rally in Jena, "several protests fell flat." It seemed like all of a sudden people wanted to protest and march because it was the in thing to do. There were marches all up and down the east coast, I think in part by folks who wish they had been able to attend the rally in Jena and wanted to find another way to support "the cause."
However that is not in and of itself a knock on leadership as much as it is a learning process among the people. Anything done too often tends to lose its effect, so is the case with the protests. It is an issue of diminishing returns.
What did the Jena rally have that the rest of these (including the March on the Justice Department) did not? The support of the black blogging community. The collection of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of web readers is beginning to be portrayed as a bad thing.
As much as Mychal Baisden, Stephen A. Smith, even Ms. Young, want to diss and dismiss black bloggers, I think we are the only ones who get it. There is coalition building, idea sharing, and best practices (I hate that term) that are swapped among these bright minds that for some reason forces are eager to diminish.
Young's article says "…it seems that bloggers, radio personalities and rogue activists have hijacked the movement." First off what movement is she speaking of? There was no movement before a fledgling network of websites began to form after the ShaQuanda Cotton case. And by the time a movement took shape behind the Jena 6, with "national" leaders and radio personalities, the situation was old news to bloggers.
Black Webloggers have lead the movement, not hijacked it. And to that end, we didn't get into for that purpose, it has just happened that way. Even the voices of black journalist have become louder as a result of the web. Mainstream media has examined itself in ways that were unheard of even this time last year. Critique the movement if you shall and lament the leadership if you must, but leave bloggers out of it.
That moves me to the scrum my man Mike Davis of Dallas Progress has found himself in with James Ragland of the Dallas Morning News. I hate to even reference the original article (Mayor's party at Perot pad does raise some concerns) because I, like Mike, didn't think it was a big deal. But look at how Ragland responds on the Belo Blog to a letter Mike wrote to the news (Ragland's words are in bold, are in regular text).
Who cares about the party? That's the question that Michael Davis, a blogger wrote in a letter published today.
I may be taking this totally out of context, but the way the word 'blogger' is placed in the sentence seems a little condescending to me. I think it's mostly because I know that blogging is only part of the civic contribution Mike makes. I wonder if Mr. Ragland knew when he wrote this (because I'm sure he knows now), that Mike Davis is a member of the Dallas City Plan Commission? This is the panel his paper reported voting unanimously Thursday to allow the Day Resource Center downtown to open temporarily as an overnight homeless shelter.
Let's see, I've been reporting on this city for the better part of two decades. I've covered Dallas City Hall and came to know many of the major players there now when they were aspiring to greater roles.
Why do journalists feel the need to whip out their credentials all of a sudden? We get it. You guys went to school to learn how to write and we didn't. You guys write for a living and most of us don't? What does that have to do with Mike Davis and the work he's doing? And my guess is that Mike knows 95% of the folks Ragland listed as attending the meeting in question personally. You don't do that by sitting in an office all day.
Not sure what Michael Davis' credentials are, (except) that he has a penchant for taking some cheap shots. When he demonstrates a capacity to connect the dots vis a vis government and politics, I may give more credence to what he has to say.
Cheap Shots? Come on Brother Ragland do you even know this dude like that? Have you read one post this cat has written? Did you know that he wrote an article in this month's issue of D Magazine? For the last year and a half at Dallas Progress, Mr. Davis has connected the dots vis a vis government and politics and received praise from all over, including the Dallas Observer and your paper. But in the end, he doesn't need anyone to "give more credence" for him to do what he does.
Mr. Davis might consider getting out of the office himself a bit more, and expanding the universe of people with whom he chats.
Talk about cheap shots. I guess Mr. Ragland didn't see the piece Channel 8 did on Mike's work shutting down "hot sheet" motels in Southern Dallas. What about how he has worked with the mayor and Dwaine Caraway to bulldoze drug houses? And who chats anymore now that Skype is available?
He might also consider picking up the phone and giving me call if he a question about something; that's what a real journalist does, especially if he's lacking understanding and context.
This is the blogosphere man! Mike D. is not, nor has he claimed to be a journalist. I'm sure he didn't lack from understanding or context of the original article.
Mike Davis doesn't need me to fight his battles, he's has written his own response to Mr. Ragland – This is Me Laughing at You . But I couldn't pass up the chance to catch Mike's back, because that's what we should all do for one another. Especially when someone who's worked as hard as Mike D. is questioned as he was at Belo.