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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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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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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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.

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Shadow Warriors: Returning February 7th (Bonus Photo’s of John Lewis’s Congressional District)

Shadow Warriors will return February 7, 2017 and honor its second recipient. On January 7th we honored Sevgi Fernandez the founder of  Together We Stand whose mission is to proactively dismantle racism, discrimination and police brutality through education, advocacy and legislation.

We’ll be back in February with a new honoree. We are continuing to seek suggestions of people doing the work that may not yet have received national recognition. Others may well be known for other accomplishments but not for what they do behind the scenes. Please make any suggestions in the comments section or E-mail to To not miss a recipient. Please press the “Follow” button on the side bar or from a mobile device, scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Until February 7th arrives, were providing some bonus pictures from John Lewis’s Congressional District that Donald Trump describes as,“In horrible shape and falling apart.”


Photo: Downtown Atlanta


Photo: World of Coca Cola


Photo Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport


Photo: Emory University


Photo: Morehouse University


Photo: Spelman College


Photo: Piedmont Park


Photo: Buckhead mansion


Photo: Buckhead mansion


Photo: Auburn Avenue Research Library


Photo: Curbed Atlanta

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Photo: Mural of John Lewis on Auburn Avenue

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Sevgi Fernandez: Shadow Warrior

“My goal is to bring people together across racial, religious and cultural lines to combat the system of racism and oppression in the country. As long as we are divided, our voices and impact are weakened.” Sevgi Fernandez

Sevgi Fernandez is the first “Shadow Warrior” and is the epitome of the type leader Enigma In Black will recognize each month. You may not have heard of her yet but she and her not for profit organization, Together We Stand are already making a difference and growing daily. Throughout this article, I will use her own words which serve better than my own.



“My name is Sevgi Fernandez, I’m a biracial woman and have spent the better part of the last two decades working as a Coach and Consultant specializing in cross-cultural/interracial families, blended families and Corporate/Executive diversity training. I’d appreciate your adding your voices to the discussions on my new blog. I’m hoping to create a forum where everyone can speak on the issues of racism and racial bias. I hope to challenge people of ALL races, not only to examine the issues we are facing but also to examine themselves and what they individually are bringing to the table.”

Her mother is white, her father black, a former Black Panther. In some respects that shouldn’t matter but her mixed-race heritage is very much a part of who she is. Her father was part of patrols that protected the homes of black families in Boston that moved into white neighborhoods and had their homes firebombed or crosses burned in their yards. Sevgi witnessed another type of racism that her mother faced for marrying a black man. Disapproval and hatred from both races. When her parents separated, she was raised primarily by her mother and grandmother who gave her a new name in lieu of the one her father had given her, Sevgi, which means love. With her mother, she was raised to be white though Carmel skinned and called “Carrie.” When with her father, she was Sevgi again and black. Out of this confusion came a focus and determination to fight racism… together.

“Together We Stand” started as a Facebook group in the summer of 2015 and has now grown to a national non-profit with 2,300+ members. An all-volunteer effort, she along with her board members and a growing following began getting involved in cases others passed by. She initiated petitions and calls to action. One of the first cases they got involved with was the death of Marcus (Marc) Anthony Merritt Sr, in Leonville, LA. Working with his mother who wanted answers and justice when police ruled his death a suicide. There were no crime scene photos taken, no toxicology reports, no autopsy. The coroner never even saw the body. After deluging authorities with E-mails and calls, they eventually got the body exhumed and an autopsy performed. The report has been completed but Louisiana won’t release the findings, only a woefully incomplete report. The work and the pressure continue. Sevgi conducted a podcast January 4, 2017, toward that effort. A case file will be presented to the Justice Department on January 13, 2017.



They’re working with a family in Chicago where a young girl, Madisyn Wordlow, was handcuffed and kept in a school basement for two hours for allegedly stealing something that was hers, to begin with. She’s working towards getting charges brought against the security guard and getting therapy for the child. Sevgi Fernandez says and works with some of the names that no one is saying. Last July they organized nationwide vigils spurred by the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille.

In Virginia, 15-year-old Ryan Turk was suspended from school and charged with larceny for taking a 65 cent carton of milk he was entitled to free. The school stood by its School Resource Officer. Sevgi stood by Ryan and his mother!

“I often feel overwhelmed and wonder if what I’m doing/trying to do is really going to make a difference?”


Yes, Sevgi you are making a difference. Together We Stand is growing now at a pace of a few people a day and is getting involved with efforts all over the country. They’ve teamed with Black Lives Matter and the American Indian Movement in support of various causes. 2017 will see their first Youth Social Justice Center formed in Northern California and they’re about to kick off what will hopefully be a major fundraising effort, “It Stops With Me!”

“We have people from ALL corners of the earth. Differing religions, races, backgrounds. Yet we are ALL here to bring about a revolution. To FINALLY shift this culture of racism and oppression which has defined our lives. If we focus ourselves and our intentions, on action, on solutions, we are UNSTOPPABLE!”

There is so much more to say about Sevgi and Together We Stand and no room to say it. She’s married, a mother of three sons that she wants to be able to grow up in a more optimistic world. I haven’t talked about the work she does with Diverse World Coaching which she founded. I haven’t mentioned she’s a consultant with ARMC Global, helping corporations get it together. Together We Stand sent packages to protesters at Standing Rock. She’s helped feed the hungry. Fought corruption in the San Francisco Police Department. She just keeps going and going!

Check out the Together We Stand Nationbuilder website. Review their Newsletter, check out and follow their Blog, sign the Petitions, see the work! They’re looking for people to volunteer in various capacities and you can also donate. Become aware of what this Shadow Warrior is doing. Time to end the divisiveness threatening to engulf this nation and stand… together!



Each month Enigma In Black will feature a new Shadow Warrior. Don’t miss a single one by scrolling down and clicking “Follow”. Please share so that we can bring these Warriors and their work out of the shadows! Would love to hear your suggestions for future Warriors which you can leave in the comments section.

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