Color of Change, the online progressive activism and advocacy site for issues concerning Black folks, has won the battle against black radio talk show host Michael Baisden and Mychal Bell’s father Marcus Jones, who spent the last several days accusing Color of Change of pocketing over $200,000 the group raised for the legal defense of the Jena 6. They published a statement refuting the accusations, and published copies of the cancelled checks they cut to the Jena 6 lawyers. They write in some of their core points (go HERE to read in its entirety, and listen to the radio segments from the Baisden show):
- ColorOfChange.org has disbursed $210,809.90 of the $212,039.90 collected as of the last reporting period (October 4th). These distributions cover all invoices we’ve received from the young men’s legal teams to date. $33,150.00 was sent to Louis Scott, Marcus Jones’ son’s lawyer on October 7th (Scott was able to request $35,339.98 but only provided an invoice for $33,150).Here are images of the deposited checks to the defense teams, proving they received the funds.
- The Jena 6 families are all aware of how we raise money and how we distribute it. We make payments to their attorneys at the families’ sole direction. Within 24 hours of receiving written authorization from the family, along with an invoice from an attorney, we send checks for up to 1/6 of the total amount donated. Here are the authorizations signed by the families, starting with Marcus Jones’.
- Michael Baisden has shown a reckless disregard for the truth. Marcus Jones has been making false allegations about us for months. However, responsible journalists check facts and then report accordingly. We’ve fielded inquiries from CNN, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, Black America Web, and others, based on Marcus Jones’ allegations–they all concluded the claims were without merit and refused to give him a stage to speak. Despite knowing the reality of how ColorOfChange has managed the fundraising and distribution process, Baisden has joined with Jones in launching baseless attacks.
- ColorOfChange.org exists for one reason: to organize and amplify the political voice of Black America and our allies. Michael Baisden claims to share this goal but he is using his show to recklessly attack an organization that has a clear record of doing the real work he claims is important, in Jena and beyond.(their emphasis)
If you didn’t know Baisden before the Jena 6 event, I could have told you: The man is a damn fool using his radio show to position himself as an authority–usually on love and relationships mostly. I usually hear his show when I’m in South Carolina driving around, as I usually don’t listen to shitty corporate radio. I have heard him make several gross inaccuracies on his show, usually about HIV/AIDS (especially about men on the down low), or talking about what “men are like” or what “women are like” with nothing but his two cents to back it up. Unfortunately he has misused a moment the black community was mobilized around to spread misinformation. At this point, Baisden has about as much journalistic integrity as Bill O’Reilly and people with sense should take anything that comes out of his mouth with a grain of salt.
I don’t know what Marcus Jones stands to gain by appearing on the radio and defaming an organization that gave money so that he or his son or Ms. Bell or any of the defendants’ families would not be sunk in a debt they may never recover from. Maybe he really and truly thought they had done something wrong. Maybe he was cajolled into it. Maybe he was expecting checks to be cut to the families. Whatever the case, I blame Baisden and his producers who should have better vetted the story before decided to go on the air with it. Are your ratings (0r your need to be seen as the sole hero of Jena, Louisiana) really worth destroying the black community’s trust in a new black organization actually doing innovative work beyond what some of our dinosaur organizations have done in decades?
Read what my friend Andre had to say at Write What I Like.