Movie Friday: @Toure and microaggressions


One of the things we discussed in the interview I posted yesterday is the power that the internet has to democratize the flow of information. I used the term ‘anarchic’ intentionally, because when nearly everyone can access the mechanisms of broadcast, the hierarchy of media enterprise is quickly obliterated. All of a sudden, the size of a media organization becomes only as important as whether or not they are able to reliably deliver accurate information and analysis in a timely way (sorry, CNN). Of course, this is based on the assumption that people are critical consumers of information, and there’s certainly plenty of information to suggest that this is not the case.

One of the other advantages to this media explosion, as I summarized with Jamila, is that minority voices will disproportionately benefit. Rather than all voices needing to go through a fixed number of filters that throttle content based on how much ‘general interest’ it will garner (i.e., will white men like it), every person becomes a broadcaster. This not only means that you as a consumer of media are more likely to run across ideas that lie outside the mainstream, but that you can tailor your consumption to a degree that is unprecedented in human history – if all you want to take in is brony slash fiction, I’m confident you’ll find what you’re looking for.

One of the voices that I’ve come across perhaps solely as a result of the anarchic delivery of media is writer, television personality, and host of MSNBC’s new daytime show ‘The Cycle’* Touré. While he’s well-known in general circles, I don’t watch any of the channels he’s on, nor do I read many magazines. I do, however, spend a lot of time on Twitter, where Touré is prolific. It was from his feed that I got today’s video:

Microaggressions are more or less the reason I reject the concept of someone being ‘a racist’, and instead focus my energy on giving people tools and the language they can use to navigate racial situations. Without being able to scrutinize your own thoughts and feelings and separate fact from cultural inculcation, we are all likely to fall in to the lazy cognitive practices that are the breeding ground for microaggressive words and actions, regardless of how forward-thinking and ‘not racist’ we might consider ourselves. This kind of self- scrutiny doesn’t come naturally, nor does much of the basic knowledge that underpins the empathy required to find neutral ground.

These are skills that we can develop, as is the practice of learning to shield one’s self from the impact that unthinking racism has on our lives. Most members of visible minority groups have learned at least some coping mechanisms, particularly if they’ve spent a lot of time among the majority group. These tricks aren’t perfect, but they can certainly help. For me personally, I’ve had that giant poster hanging in my mind for years – it’s the only way to justify having a blog like this one.

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*Warning: contains S.E. Cupp

Comments

  1. says

    It’s interesting, the “how did you get here” theme mirrors a discussion from a linguistic anthropologist (Michael Silverstein) who studied the transcript of two college students meeting for the first time. One asks; “where were you before coming here?” The answer was some Ivy League school. The other asks the sake question, and the answer was “Ohio.” …it’s the beginning of a status-duel of sorts, one carried out in perfectly polite tones, but a very serious contest for status nonetheless.

    That little extra twist on something that appears on the surface to be an innocent question…

  2. says

    This got caught in the spam filter. Northierthanthou e-mailed me when it didn’t go through (which is the appropriate thing to do, so I thank you)

  3. PSG says

    That is an awesome video. I don’t spend much time on TV or twitter, but I will make it a point to check Toure out myself now. Thanks.

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