The Difference Between 'Talk' Identities and 'Walk' Realities
July 5, 2015
There is a sense of deja vu many Americans are feeling there days. As we navigate new questions about our national identity and how we as individual citizens relate our own lives to public and historical narratives--known and unknown—thanks to recent events reminiscent of the 1960s, but with a New Media twist.
Waving the wrong flag One relates to what the rebel flag, still seen at a few Southern capitals and more than a few back windows of pickup trucks. So effectively promoted by cloaked hate groups that few until recently knew its false pretense. Namely, the reality that, not only is it not the Confederate flag, but that it was designed to be a symbol of white supremacy and, as such was adopted by the Ku Klux Klan.
Amplifying this—to the surprise of many--was Walmart, who stopped selling the flag just days after the massacre of the pastor and eight parishioners at Charleston's historical black Emanuel AME Church by a white supremacist gunman. Walmart's competitors, manufacturers and many others followed its lead. Including none other than Nascar, equally as recognized for it's southern pride symbolism, and it's star Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. says the Confederate flag "Belongs in the History books. And, that's about it."
More provocative on the money-power continuum was how quickly Univision, NBC, Macys and others dumped Donald Trump following his recent polarizing comments.
Corporations conceding to citizen-style democracy? It’s too soon to tell if these are signs that corporations are finally matching their values-talk with real-world walk. But there is good evidence that participatory democracy is benefiting. The parallel power of the populist-empowering public space that's social media, is ever clearer. Lately seen in the flash-mob style protests that propelled these companies' hasty actions.
Amplifying repressed voices Even before the race-issues awakened by Charleston's grief, WetheP had begun amplifiying the themes. Throwing together the Me to We Racial Healing website within half a day of noticing racial healing videos germinating after a white 'redneck' showed up on Youtube early this Spring. His tone so shockingly opposite the usual stereotypes, it managed to agitate repressed voices from inertia.
"Yeah I'm a redneck. I'm proud of it." drawled Dixon D. White from his red Ford F150 pickup truck. "Many years I was a racist. I didn't like blacks. I used to call them the N word and what not. But I come to a point I realized this is my personal experience. Whites are racist. Our white American culture is full of white supremacy. There's a new America that's called White Racial Responsibility."
Turns out White is a creative alter-ego of Jorge Moran, a businessman, filmmaker and occasional actor. Within just a few weeks millions had viewed his videos. Which was good. It quickly appeared their fandom became as much about the metrics as the message. Moran was courted by leaders at Tribeca Film Festival, American Civil Liberties Union. Even scored a Huffington Post column. All appreciated his ability to tap into a hidden truth that insidiously obstructs American progress.
Unpolished power Just a quickly, many began to increasingly question Moran’s motives. Among the most vocal were people who’d risked upsetting friends, family and colleagues by following his lead with their own videos. While Moran cited death threats as his reason for using a pseudonym, most used their real names too. Several noting that they, too, would likely trigger similar ire with their videos. Though Moran's was more polished and less personal. The many others were less preachy. As poignant public narratives, the collective effect of theirs were in some ways more powerful Which ABC News Nightline vividly captured in a segment featuring them that you can see: HERE.
Most were whites who spoke of their own ignorance or complicity. Blacks, for their part, expressed grateful shock, and emboldened, took the themes deeper –well beyond the usual addressed in interracial dialogues.
The voices grew by dozens as people from all places, positions and political perspectives shared theirs. Then, hundreds, when others added written thoughts. More are still added by the day. Many the by product of new multi-race relationships developed from those first videos that spilled into intense, illuminating conversations as thousands of new connections sprung up in Facebook and Google+ groups. Some going further and developing offshoot initiatives.
Granddaughter of slaves working with Confederate-son Like one that's co-led by a white southeastern Harley-loving long-haired friend of Jesus type and a straight-talking, professional and proactive black woman who lives in the northwest. The unlikely pair (that would be unthinkable anywhere but the anything-goes Internet) broke ties with Moran. Frustrated with what they viewed as his lack of interest in the growing ‘real people’ effort. After observing it from a distance the duo recently asked to partner with and promote the ‘we the people’ approach captured on the healing videos website. Echoing, perhaps, what civil rights leader and participatory democracy pioneer Ella Baker meant when she said:
“Strong people don’t need strong leaders.”
WetheP agrees. We’re especially bullish on ‘roots to tips’ collaborations that marry people who might not be seen or self-identify as leaders, but, whose common-person expertise is critical to the co-creation of systemic culture change, to strong leaders at the 'tips' of the power strata. .To that end, WetheP invited acclaimed authorJonathan Odell (The Healing, A View from Delphi) and Rev Canon Peg Chemberlin, recent president of the National Council of Churches, to contribute their voices, too, to ME to WE Racial Healing.
Such mixes are meant to facilitate a much needed paradigm shift. By joining ranks for shared solutions online—in ways that go well beyond the usual talk by employing proven community organizing methods. Connecting diverse people and cross-sector groups in sustained and contextually developmental ways, that, of late, have been largely lost in the transactional fast-twitch world.
Whipping People up With Words Talking about or telling people how to change is one thing. has its place. It's way of drawing people together with relatable rhetoric. Such approaches are by far the favored from the pulpits of academia and religion to the programs of non-profits and the pickup trucks, street corners and social media threads that increasingly more populist-proxy personas and others preach from.
But none of this talk can or will achieve anything unless intentionally and persistently acted upon in organized, authentic, collaborative, multi-faceted real people relational efforts.How’s that for something to think about? Scratch ‘think about – make that: something to act on. How about starting right now by sharing your own racial healing video or voice HERE?!
Act American! It’s easy. It’s American. It will prove that you really are walking the talk of a we the people patriot!