How The Death of Net Neutrality Derails Social Justice Organizations

“Chairman Pai’s plan to gut the FCC’s net neutrality rules will devastate Black communities. Net neutrality is essential to protecting our free and open Internet, which has been crucial to today’s fights for civil rights and equality. Our ability to have our voices heard in this democracy depends on an open Internet because it allows voices and ideas to spread based on substance, rather than financial backing. Net neutrality ensures that the Internet is a place for innovation and opportunity for all, rather than just the wealthy few.”

To fully understand how the death of Net Neutrality will harm Social Justice organizations and impact the ability of grassroots organizations to thrive, one must first understand what it is. In 2015, during the Obama administration, the FCC adopted rules to keep the Internet free and open. Prohibiting Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T from dictating at what speeds you can access content and whether you can access it at all. The great majority of the public has supported Net Neutrality. Republican legislators, many of whom receive monetary donations from the ISP’s do not.

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Photo: businessinsider.com

Because most of us are used to a free and open Internet, we have no concept of what the loss of Net Neutrality means in practical terms. Let’s look at what ISP’s have already attempted to do before courts and now FCC Rules turned them back.

From 2007-2009, AT&T made Apple block Skype services, Google Net, and related services because they might compete with AT&T. In 2010, Windstream hijacked search queries of Firefox users, directing them to Windstream’s portal and results in spite of how the user set their search engine. In 2011, Metro PCS blocked any streaming service except for YouTube. Imagine if you or your organization went live on Black Junction or even Facebook and your message couldn’t get out to Metro PCS users.

From 2011-2013, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint blocked Google Wallet, a mobile payment system that competed with one the three firms were developing. In 2012, AT&T disabled a FaceTime video calling app unless users subscribed to a more expensive text and voice plan. All these things were stopped with the advent of Net Neutrality and without it are likely to return.

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Photo: billmoyers.com

This could easily be seen as a high-tech issue but it can also turn into a high-tech lynching like the one Clarence Thomas once imagined. What if Social Justice organizations lost the ability to get out their message, alerting the community of events that might otherwise go underreported and barely noticed. In 2012, in response to a constant narrative blaming the victim across the media. An organization started by three women was formed and because of free and uncensored access to the Internet was able to get their message out and start a movement. That “victim” was Trayvon Martin and the organization was Black Lives Matter. In a post-Net Neutrality world, their voice might never have been heard.

Rashad Robinson, the Executive Director of Color of Change said,

“Chairman Pai’s plan to gut the FCC’s net neutrality rules will devastate Black communities. Net neutrality is essential to protecting our free and open Internet, which has been crucial to today’s fights for civil rights and equality. Our ability to have our voices heard in this democracy depends on an open Internet because it allows voices and ideas to spread based on substance, rather than financial backing. Net neutrality ensures that the Internet is a place for innovation and opportunity for all, rather than just the wealthy few.”

Imagine a world where the ACLU, Amnesty International, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Together We Stand, the National Action Network, Color of Change, National Council of La Raza, Race Forward, National Council of Negro Women, the National Congress of American Indian and many other groups could no longer get the word out? These organizations depend on access to the Internet both to get their message out and to fundraise to support their very existence. There are those that think that kind of world with no resistance to their programming would be a good thing. They are the ones supporting the end of Net Neutrality.

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Photo: twitter.com

Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Terence Crutcher, Alton Sterling and more are the names you never would have said if the word didn’t get out. Suppose your request for information on something you heard about only returned an error message like, “Page Not Found.” The end of Net Neutrality would mean that others will determine what messages are allowed to be heard and seen and by whom. It’s about race, it’s about money, and it’s about power.

Stand up and be counted in resistance to the FCC’s plans to end Net Neutrality, Sign the Change.Org Petition to let the FCC and Congress know that the people do not support this change. If Social Justice isn’t enough to motivate you, imagine paying more to access YouTube or shop online. It gives control of what you can do online to large corporations.

The Republican-controlled FCC is resisting attempts to delay the vote to end Net Neutrality, scheduled for December 14, 2017. They prefer to rush the vote through, following the model of Republican legislators in the House and Senate while pursuing Tax Change and the end of Obamacare. Let them know you support an open Internet.

Featured Photo: colorofchange.org

Invisible Once Again

In 1952, Ralph Ellison published the acclaimed novel, “Invisible Man.” It delved into the issues facing African-Americans of the time, especially Black identity and his disillusionment with Political Parties in general and Socialism in particular. It focused on the “social invisibility” of the Black man. Looked at without being seen.

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Photo: buzzfeed.com

The 1950’s was not a unique time in American history in that the Black man was always invisible in terms of rights, self-determination and even viability without some form of interdependence in the greater white society. The Black man in America was regulated first by the slave codes, then Jim Crow, and even now in a general sense by all the ways he is still rendered invisible by those who classify him in a manner so that doesn’t count.

There was a moment in time in America when a Black man wasn’t invisible. The eight years that Barack Obama was President of the United States of America brought a visibility to that Black man that in some ways tore apart this country. It wasn’t his words or deeds, he behaved much in the manner of many American Presidents, doing so with exceeding grace. It was his existence that divided the nation as his omnipresence on the American landscape was more than some could endure.

Every attempt was made to send him back to invisibility, whether it be questioning his birth and eligibility to be President, or obstructing everything he did and denying him a legacy. The election of the current President can be traced to the desire of many to obliterate the memory of Obama and make him invisible again.

Once Trump became President, he set out to destroy every accomplishment of the previous Administration. While failing to accomplish anything legislatively. He’s used Executive Power and agency rule changes to bring back mass incarceration, suppress votes and turn the Federal Government’s back on oppressive police tactics. His perfect world brings back “Stop & Frisk” and would have a policeman on every inner-city block using unrestrained force in a world where only Blue Lives Matter. The Black man would be rendered not quite invisible, but labeled in a manner easily discounted. Thug, animal, criminal…one whose mere presence elicits fear which allows he be shot dead with no recourse while strangely reaching into an empty waistband or sometimes with hands up.

Invisible Again

Photo: twitter.com

White America offers limited visibility to those who excel at sports, entertain, or publicly toe the line. Until such time as they forget their role and their status is revoked. Athletes are revered until they develop a social conscience and then must be taken down. They can represent the best of Blackness unless of course, they get too Black. Entertainers can sing about making it rain in the strip club without fear of backlash but there’s a short leash if they try to exercise political power. Clarence Thomas is a silent overseer, Ben Carson is #Sad. Both perform their respective tasks on cue and go back to the lives compliance affords them.

There is a need to label Black organizations and make them dismissible, and therefore invisible. They fear Black Lives Matter and its potential for upsetting the apple cart. They call them racist and violent and want them seen as a hate group. They fail to recognize that Black Lives Matter, IS the non-violent response. These are the voices they wish silenced while First Amendment Rights for Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists are validated. The President is a White Supremacist, surrounded by the same, like Jemele Hill, I won’t take back saying so.

The Black woman uniquely suffers from invisibility. Attempts at solidarity with her allies in the fight for Women’s Rights often find them tossed aside as the goal nears. She watches her one-time sisters reap the benefits while she gets table scraps. The Women’s Suffrage movement needed Ida B Wells on their side, when it came time for her allies to support her causes, the call went unanswered. Another uneasy alliance is with Black men. Lacking control in most aspects of their own lives, Black men sometimes seek to control that which they could, their women.

In the Age of Trump, racism isn’t really racism as long as it’s justified. Black on Black crime, a high illegitimate birth rate, saggy pants… these and more are the excuses they give to not be concerned with wrongful police shootings, voter suppression and the racist occupants in the White House. I’m engaging in a long-running, wide-ranging conversation online with several that have tried to render me invisible. Their anonymity gives them strength as they attempt to dismiss what I say by discounting the messenger. Amazingly, a turn came when they discovered how much we have in common. We’ve read the same books, and have some similar interests. They tell me of the struggles of their people and for a moment see similarities. Yet when the topic switches back to race I’ll once again be a “self-pitying victim” dwelling on something relegated to the past. I’ll be invisible once again.

We must recognize that making Black people invisible is a strategy, a means to an end. One that ultimately requires our participation to be successful. Invisibility can be defeated by shining a light on it. Ellison said in his novel, “the truth is the light, and light is the truth,” Don’t allow your message to be discounted but insist the actual merits be discussed. Support the organizations that work on your behalf with your time, energy and money. Continue to fight injustice even when the Government temporarily turns its back for that too will change. There is an arc that bends toward justice and making yourself visible despite all the attempts to ignore you will bring that day sooner!

Featured Photo: playbuzz.com

 

“It’s Just One Of Those Things”

I watched the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and was frankly stunned. I’ll confess that I’m biased by my support for Hillary and my certainty  that a Trump presidency would be the worst imaginable thing for the country, so I did have a hoped for outcome. Having had almost all of my wishes fulfilled during the debate. I was at a loss for what to say as there was so much.

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I’ll leave it to others to describe Trump’s temperament, his lack of stamina as the night went on. His lack of understanding of international treaties and relationships. His defense of calling a woman “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.” His justification of attacking Rosie O’Donnell and offering up Sean Hannity as proof of a long-standing position, offset by public radio interviews. I choose to focus on a smaller statement. “It’s just one of those things.”

Secretary Clinton brought up his record of having been sued by the Justice Department in 1973 for discriminating against blacks in housing, refusing to rent to blacks in some of their developments. She didn’t even mention that his managers marked the application forms with the letter “C” for colored to ensure their rejection. Trump’s response was as follows:

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“Now, as far as the lawsuit, yes, when I was very young, I went into my father’s company, had a real estate company in Brooklyn and Queens, and we, along with many, many other companies throughout the country — it was a federal lawsuit — were sued. We settled the suit with zero — with no admission of guilt. It was very easy to do.”

He also said:

“But, frankly, I look — I look at that, and I say, isn’t that amazing? Because I settled that lawsuit with no admission of guilt, but that was a lawsuit brought against many real estate firms, and it’s just one of those things.”

Discriminating against black people was just one of those things to Donald Trump. Even after being sued by the Justice Department, he continued his racist policies and was sued a second time three years later where he settled a second time. He took great pride in proclaiming he never admitted any guilt. Donald never has.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matteo Prandoni/BFA/REX/Shutterstock (5665251k) Donald Trump Time 100 Gala, Arrivals, New York, America – 26 Apr 2016

It struck me as odd that he mentioned in his defense that he was very young and “went into his father’s company,” suggesting he as President of the company he was following his father’s existing racist policy. It’s worth noting that Fred Trump was arrested in 1927 during a violent confrontation between the police and the KKK. Fred Trump was not a member of the police department. I wonder if one day Donald Trump, Jr will defend his racist tweets as something he picked up from his father?

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There was so much to say about the performance of Donald Trump during the debate. It would be easy to miss something this because of all the other things he said or did. His history of racism including housing discrimination, a full page ad requesting the death penalty for the “Central Park Five” who turned out to be innocent. His comments about not wanting black people counting his money. His Birtherism. His newfound affinity for “The Blacks” that he expresses mostly before crowds of white people. No Donald, it’s not “just one of those things.” That would only be the case if the people you discriminated against didn’t matter. You will discover on election day that black lives definitely do.

No Justice, No Peace!

For those white people old enough to recall; remember how you felt the day O.J. was found Not Guilty?

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Even his own white lawyers gave him shade

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Now imagine you lived with this kind of injustice, once a week, for your entire life?

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How do you think you’d feel?

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no black lives matter

And there was never any justice…

 

Image: National March Against Police Violence - DC

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no peace

If nothing changes?

Killings By Police March

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Where do we go from here? Time for a change!