We have heard “We Shall Overcome” in many accents, and now we hear the words “Million Man March” from the African Diaspora, being taken up by revolutionaries on the streets of the most ancient African countries, Egypt.
“Culture is a weapon” is a tenet of the December 12th Movement, and here we see how the technology of the cell phone and social networking sites Facebook and Twitter have had an E=MC2 effect by placing the cultural weapon instantly in the hands of masses of people resulting in enormous and sudden changes throughout the world.
And yet sometimes a weapon can be turned inward. And here we see the truth South African student protest leader Steven Biko spoke when he said, “The greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
Writing on theroot.com about the troubling trending topics of African-Americans, Patrice J. Williams asks, with African-Americans reportedly making up 25 percent of Twitter users, why do “the trending topics on any given day reflect hateful, stereotypical and misogynistic messages?”
She gives examples such as “howtotellahoodho” and “taintrape” and compares them to acknowledgement of the anniversary of the Haiti earthquake and found that “the Haiti topic peaked at number 76 out of the day’s most popular subjects. Stereotypes of black women can dominate a Twitter conversation for hours, but attempts to commemorate a disaster that killed hundreds of thousands of people and left a million homeless went practically unnoticed. Are we using our large social networking presence to do more harm than good?”
Stopping that harm can only be done by education, employment, and parenting, in any order and preferably all at once. These are the keystones to recapturing those lost minds and tamping down the damage for future generations. And yet the Internet has the ability to transform reality in an instant and self-destructive use of social networking may change suddenly with a spark or over time with conscious effort, into an organizing force to strengthen those three pillars of society. But the frivilous use of technology by young people is not the only example of minds in the hands of the oppressed.
“I could have freed more if only they knew they were slaves” is how Harriet Tubman put it, speaking of those who believed things were normal as they were. These are the folks who steadfastly believed that Massa is just so special, and who had to go run tell, “Oh Massa come quick! Dey’s some Niggas tryin’ to get free,” exposing the rebellions of African-American rebel leaders Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey and others. Examples of this mindset of clinging to Massa can be clearly seen today in Pastors Calvin Butts, A. R. Bernard and Floyd Flake in their support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg over Bill Thompson in the last election.. These pastors all have robust congregations, employ hundreds of people, build schools and senior citizen homes and run what are large corporations as religious institutions. They like being friends with billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the growth ofttheir fiefdoms. And always when you watch this spectacle you must remember William Agustus Jones, former pastor of Bethany Baptist Church and his oft-repreated refrain, “If you eat the king’s meat, you do the king’s bidding.”
With each battle with Bloomberg over education and school closings, we should not ever forget that had the pastors supported William Thompson we would be having far more progressive conversations about education and city contracting than we have now.
Fortunately for the Tunisians and the Egyptians, their oppression has not yet gotten to the bone and they were able to effectively wield this new weapon and demonstrate what a little power multiplied by a lot of hands can do. I hope everyone is paying attention.