After Color of Change published the cancelled checks to lawyers, emails to Jena 6 family members and what not, Michael Baisden was forced to issue an apology on his website (albeit begrudgingly).
Response to Color of Change
The Michael Baisden show and staff were given inaccurate information regarding donations made by the public and David Bowie. We apologize to our listeners and to ColorofChange for not seeking more reliable sources. According to documentation provided by the organization through their web site, all the funds collected by ColorofChange have been distributed to the families as promised.
We do, however, respect the right of four of the Jena 6 families who have insisted that ColorofChange discontinue collection of any monies on their behalf. But this should not reflect on the integrity of this organization which has collected and distributed over $200,000 to their legal defense.
Any insinuations that were made about me wanting to be the sole fundraiser for legal defense is ridiculous. I am too tired after my radio gig to take on that responsibility, and furthermore, it is impossible. No one man or organization can fund the movement of an entire nation.
I am relieved to have put this behind us so that both our organizations can get back to the business of helping people. There is nothing wrong with having disagreements, as long as you love the people enough to work it out, sooner rather than later.
Thanks again for your support of the many organizations that are doing an outstanding job of raising money to help those who desperately need it. We’ve got a long way to go family and we won’t get there unless we work together. Divided we fall!
That’s something I guess. But given the fact that the entire premise of his criticisms was false, it should have been an unqualified apology. Other bloggers have written about this as well, namely Write What I Like and my new favorite What About Our Daughters both have very interesting things to say about this. The Chicago Tribune also published a story about this whole fiasco.
But I think this entire Jena 6 situation needs to be a major lesson to the Black community in many ways:
- Black activism is now online and it’s here to stay! For all the talk about the digital divide, the Jena story happened largely because of Black bloggers. There have been several other cases of things happening in the last several years due to the power of Black online communities. People like Baisden (or whomever else) cant just say some shit and get away with it without impunity anymore because people are listening, and have their own means to respond, and don’t have to have a radio show, a newspaper or a television station to do so.
- Stop making issues about individuals! You’ll come up short! The boys involved in Jena aren’t saints. What happened to them was fucked up without a doubt, and didn’t deserve the racism they received in that school, that town, or in the (in) justice system there in Louisiana. I think it was important to mobilize and get them out of that situation, but to also use this as a jumpoff point to begin to put pressure on our public school systems to de-militarize them, and address the ways in which black youth are criminalized in schools. Believing in heroes or infallable human beings will get you blaming organizations against the word of a sole family member without any proof. Organizer and labor scholar Bill Fletcher has some interesting things to say about this on Znet.
- Black entertainment is not Black journalism! We need to be clear that what Baisden does is not news. It is entertainment. Therefore you should take it as such. Be skeptical. But hell, be skeptical of the news, too!
- What about Megan Williams? What about the woman in Dunbar Village? The Newark 4? We will come running anytime a young black man is in trouble. We will sometimes come running if a Black woman has been attacked by white men. But we will do absolutely nothing when Black men attack black women. When will we put this much energy to support black women who are subject to violence, or by the criminal justice system?
There are more things to be learned. More things to look over about this situation. I hope that all the hurt feelings and accusations and whack-ass apologies don’t sour us as bloggers from doing what we’re best at. If media is the watchdog of power, to me, the blogosphere is the watchdog of the media.