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Civil Rights Groups, CBC Are Right To Question FCC About Net Neutrality:An Open Letter to James Rucker

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Hey James - let me start by saying I am a true fan of Color of Change and have much respect for everything you've done for the movement. But right now your arguments don't make a lot of sense, and you need to check your facts.

First off, all of the civil rights groups and the CBC have been big supporters of ensuring that companies cannot control the content and applications that people can access online. In fact, the civil rights groups fought hard to make sure the FCC developed the principles of net neutrality--this is nothing new, we've been living with net neutrality since 2004. Those principles made it possible for you to create Color of Change and for Senator Barack Obama to become President Obama. You should thank the people that helped make it all happen. Instead you question their sincerity.

We all know the fight today is between Google and the ISPs. And just because the arguments you make sound just like those made by Google and Public Knowledge, it doesn't make you a bad guy. What I don't understand though is why you are criticizing people who are looking for answers. You seem surprised that the CBC and civil right leaders are concerned that when the big companies fight each other the under served may lose?

Don't you think the FCC should answer the questions raised by the civil rights leaders and CBC? Why is it wrong to ask the FCC to make sure the rules they are proposing will not widen the digital divide? Why is it wrong to ask the FCC to make sure the rules they develop will not lead to regressive pricing which would shackle poor people? Why is it wrong to ask that the costs be borne by the people that cause them and not by the underserved? Why are you so afraid of the answers to these questions?

Maybe you don't quite grasp why minority leadership is vexed. Perhaps you're too young to understand why many of our elders, who've given their lives and wear the scars of the struggle, feel the need to seek the truth. You might not understand why they don't trust the FCC to get it right. Understandable mistakes if this is your first foray into media and communications issues...but there is a long history behind their deep skepticism and it makes sense that they would question the FCC on its intended course of action.

With all due respect to Commissioner Clyburn since this isn't her fault--have you checked out the FCC's record on minorities and women - on EEO enforcement (none lately), on saving Black radio (won't even hold a damn hearing), even on multilingual emergency broadcasting (no movement since Katrina)? Please take a look - the FCC has failed miserably. Yet you are willing to put our fate in their hands without question?

Instead of playing this game of whose side is better and which argument is right, why don't we join forces and seek the truth together? If our fears are not justified then we all win. If our fears are justified, then they must be addressed. We have too much at stake to not to get this right.