Last week I participated on a panel at the Rainbow Push Telecom conference with Reverend Jesse Jackson on the topic "From Exclusion to Inclusion, Getting to Equal in our Society Economically, Politically and Socially. As you could imagine the conversations quickly turned to Ferguson case and the Garner case. As we discussed I realized something significant and shared it with the crowd. That two days prior I watch the Grand jury verdict for Ferguson or TV realize that was the first time that I had received any information about the case of any place other than the Internet. This was impactful for several reasons, the first one being that I was fully up to speed well-versed on all the issues related to what was happening there. The second because the account CNN was really one-sided and focused on the looting in the anger and negativity of the outcome and it was really obvious that there only goes to show Black people looting and rioting and causing construction. But it was from the Internet and stupid people on the ground that I was given the full picture of what was going on there the TV would never show.
• The full video of what happened to Michael Brown
• The Black men protecting local businesses from being looted
• The peaceful protesting by the people of Ferguson
• How people from across the country came to Ferguson to show the support and come to the aid of the people that town peacefully
I was able to get the whole story I was able to form my own opinion I was able to have the right emotion the right temperament and thoughts around the issue because the Internet allowed me to see the full picture one in a way that TV would never allow me to see. The same has continued with the Garner case New York. I've witnessed us use the Internet to create unified organized peaceful protest and allow the voices be heard, the pictures to tell the story of our pain and we've allowed ourselves to make an impact from die-ins on the street to celebrities showing their support everyone in the own way lending to that one voice and the internet is taking center stage in that. It's a powerful testament to what we are capable what we focus on leveraging the tools in front of us. But what I also said on the panel that we often allow ourselves in situations like this inconsistent to go back into our everyday lives once the issue dies down and we forget about the impact we are capable of creating.
My hope is that this time we allow ourselves to stay awake after this wake up call. Looking back on what we have accomplished over the last week and saying to ourselves." If the Internet could help us do that with us can we achieve?
• Learn the skills to create better economic opportunities for ourselves
• Give our children for educational opportunities no matter where they live
• Be vocal participants in any issue that needs voice not just the ones that make National news
• Level the playing field for ourselves
When I travel to give speeches and workshops for the close divide project, my goal is to ensure we understand the opportunities in front of us and the power we have to make an impact economically, socially and politically. To start more of us on the path of searching for the facts ourselves and not let others guide our decision though emotionally laden remarks that are meant to play on our existing anxiety.
The beauty of the Internet is that the facts are there for you, you just have to know to look there. As I sat with Reverend Jackson and heard stories about how we was on the ground with Martin Luther King and partnered with Marion Barry as helped create economic opportunity in D.C. and is still on the ground today. I realized that is what real activism looks like. It's not the armchair activists who look to insight people to causes without truly educating them on how the results of those changes will affect them.
The current Net Neutrality debate around title II is a great example. There are groups who throw out worlds like "discrimination" and "civil rights" as emotionally charged buzzwords to cloud the facts. They spend money on elaborate stunts but I don' t see them in the community centers with me, on the ground connecting people with real information instead they just create emotionally fueled misdirection. Sadly even people of color have been mislead to attempt to direct people on a path that is not optimal for them. But it does not matter because the new revolution is about information; it's about the facts. It's about us using the platform in front of us to learn, organize and be heard. I believe the revolution has begun and we are ready for change and soon no one will be able to mislead us and we will take advantage fully of the voice we have on a regular basis. Not just in extreme times, so if you want to be a part of this revolution, don't look on TV, look on your phone or your computer.