Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guest Blog by Hakim Bellamy: With Media and Justice for All: Media Justice as Anti-Racism Work

027 cropHakim Bellamy is the Strategic Communications Director at Media Literacy Project

Last week, Media Literacy Project (MLP) attended the Second Annual Anti-Racism Day at the New Mexico State Legislature. Having served on the planning committee for this day of action, convened by the New Mexico Health Equity Working Group and the Deconstructing Racism Group, MLP had a chance to reflect on the anti-racism aspects of our work. Recently, we have been protecting the cyber frontier from corporate colonization through our opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), both in Congress.

Racism often frames the environment in which the most horrific human rights abuses occur. The human right to communication is certainly threatened by SOPA and PIPA, making freedom of speech the dominant argument in these debates currently happening in the U.S. House and Senate, respectively. However, these companion bills that were initially supported by a majority of the New Mexico Congressional Delegation have a more acute impact on communities of color. With Anti-Racism Day fresh in our minds, we must at least acknowledge the disparity of that impact on our communities.

The intentionally deceptive use of language by supporters of SOPA and PIPA is something that disproportionately impacts people of color and therefore, disproportionately impacts New Mexico. The good news is that this deceptive language is not lost on folks who work in the fields of media justice and creative arts. The idea that the SOPA and PIPA legislation was designed out of some altruistic concern of Congress to protect “the starving artist” is an utterly absurd frame. Yet, this is the frame that they have been using, with some success, to get artists to support protecting intellectual property at the expense of freedom. The reality is that the content owners, not the content creators, are the ones lobbying this legislation through Congress. As an organization whose work is reliant upon content created by cultural workers and artists in the Southwest, we want to see the fair use and fair compensation of our partners and collaborators protected.

At the same time, we know that the most innovative and democratic model for communication and artistic distribution ever created is the Internet. The Internet is a threat to the corporate model of gatekeeping content, communication and culture for profit. Much like the artists that work in your community, the artists we work with are more likely to make a living from their art because of the Internet, not in spite of it. Rarely are these artists in the economic stratosphere of “1%ers” who have to concern themselves with how the Internet is cutting into their movie, television or music profits. As an artist, I suspect that for artists of color approximately 99 percent of us fall into the former category.

It is not the content creators who stand to see a windfall of profit if SOPA and PIPA become law; it is the content owners who want to make sure that they remain the middle man between the artist and the audience. In the scope of anti-racism theory, the economics of this dynamic can best be explained with a plantation analogy. The plantation gets the harvest of the artist for next to nothing, and then keeps all the market profit.

However, the corporate owners have been faced with a revolt. Their attempt to put a noose around the Internet has been met with great opposition. Their attempts to control the market and bully us into giving up our freedom, is failing. Community artists figured out that working for themselves could provide much more creative and economic freedom than slaving for the owners, and have been doing so since the advent of the digital revolution in the 1980s. Essentially, the Internet has emancipated poor people (read: artists) and communities of color from having their talent, their issues and their culture ignored or marginalized as not universal enough or not profitable enough.

So as we all apply this idea of anti-racism to the work that we do, please consider how difficult it would be for us to do the work of bringing people of all colors together without being able to share our culture freely? How would we realize the anti-racist world we seek without being able to communicate our songs, our images and our stories? Where else might we share our languages, our traditions, and our truth? It was the Internet that gave consumer advocates, web experts and media justice advocates the power to stop SOPA and PIPA from seeing a vote. That power to catalyze change is precisely the quality of the Internet that proponents of this legislation seek to eliminate.  We ask that you write your Congressperson and Senators and tell them to leave the Internet open and free...with media and justice for all.

January 31, 2012 at 06:36 PM in Action Alerts, Guest Blogger, Media, Net Neutrality, NM Legislature 2012, Racial Minorities | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Clash of the Titans; Don’t Forget About us

The following was provided by Jon Hendry of IATSE Local 480, Motion Picture Technicians state of NM.

Mr. Hendry raises some interesting concerns in his breif peice here regarding the SOPA bill and the PIPA bill and how it could affect our beloved film industry in this state.

As the monumental clash between Hollywood and Silicon Valley develops please don’t forget about the film workers of NM. There are thousands of us who put on our boots at 5am and go to work building sets, shooting commercials, handling post production for the US and the world.

We’re by no means Hollywood. Just because we’re concerned that foreign sites are stealing our work product and the residuals that fund our pension and health plans doesn’t mean we’re in any way proposing restrictions to the free internet access we all enjoy. If we can’t protect our intellectual property then the future of the film business in NM and the bright future for thousands of students currently in film & media programs in our high schools and colleges will be squandered. This is not about intellectual freedom, it’s about theft. The film workers of NM and their unions: IATSE, SAG, AFTRA, IBT, DGA, and AFM challenge those who oppose the bill to help us protect our jobs, protect the taxes that NM so desperately needs, and come up with a solution that protects everyone’s rights and intellectual freedom.

January 21, 2012 at 05:07 PM in Film, Net Neutrality | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Good SOPA, Bad SOPA: Congress needs to hear your voice, New Mexico.

From the Blog: Media Literacy Project
Posted on January 18, 2012

Today thousands of sites have gone black in solidarity against the "Stop Online Piracy Act" and the "Protect IP Act". In support of the blackout, Media Literacy Project encourages you to visit our coalition partners at Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net), Latinos for Internet Freedom and Black Voices for Internet Freedom to find out how you can contact your congressional representatives and tell them “SOPA is BAD.” The passage of these acts could fundamentally change the Internet as we know it--limiting the openness and creativity of the Internet that our communities have fought for. Among other things, these bills could censor websites, limit innovation, and kill jobs--Outcomes that New Mexico cannot afford.

Congress has the power to stop these bills -- but they need to hear from us. They need to know that working class, New Mexican families care about technology and the role it plays in social and economic inclusion.

We can play a direct role in determining the future of the Internet!  Call your elected officials and tell them we want a fair and open Internet.

Watch the KRQE News on SOPA/PIPA featuring Media Literacy Project.

See if your Congressperson or Senator supports SOPA/PIPA.

And More from Fight for the Future

The internet is currently engaged in the largest ever online protest in opposition to internet censorship legislation moving in Congress, PIPA and SOPA.

Three top-ten sites in the U.S. -- Google.com, Craigslist.org, and en.wikipedia.org -- have blacked out all or part of their sites in protest of the bill.

As of 10 a.m. ET,  eleven top 100 U.S. sites are participating in the strike (site rankings are from Alexa.com). Wordpress alone powers 16 percent of the top 1 million sites globally, and all of those sites are being blacked out.

More than 62,000 sites have signed up to join at sopastrike.com. The exact number of sites that are participating is unknown at this point, but we believe 10,000 to be a conservative estimate.

The protest is in response to legislation (S.968) scheduled for a vote in the Senate on Jan. 24th that would give the government and corporations new powers to block access to entire websites because of a single link in violation of copyright law. The website takedowns would effectively censor hosts of legal, constitutionally-protected speech, and the bill is considered to be in violation of the First Amendment by several prominent constitutional scholars.

Ultimately, the fight against these bills is about more than web censorship. It is a fundamental struggle about who has power in modern society -- the people with the means to communicate freely or the governments and corporations that want to lock down control. Today's action, and the corresponding drop-off in congressional support for these bills, is a raw display of power for the people at large.

January 18, 2012 at 07:59 PM in Action Alerts, Net Neutrality | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Powerful Testimony Abounds at Future of the Internet Hearing Supporting Net Neutrality and Broadband Access


Click for photo album

This is a report by Mary Ellen Broderick.

On Tuesday night, Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps, as well as other distinguished speakers, provided in-depth explanations of the importance of net neutrality and expanded access to broadband at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. The hall was almost three-quarters full, the setting was dramatic and the graphic behind the speakers made the events message loud and clear: “SAVE THE INTERNET.com.” A wide variety of citizens also participated by providing testimony about their views. 

I found the hearing to be very informative and compelling. It's impressive that the organizations chose New Mexico as the location for their first hearing on net neutrality since the return of Congress to Washington after the November election.  Unfortunately, I didn't hear the topic of net neutrality mentioned by any New Mexico candidate this fall, even though New Mexico ranks 47th out of the 50 states in terms of access to the internet because of high costs and inadequate services. Only 10% of Native Americans in the state are connected to the internet. No wonder our education statistics rank so low. Of course rural people, the forgotten Native Americans and other native New Mexicans are the ones that suffer -- especially low-income folks, whether inner city or rural.

If Governor-elect Susana Martinez really cares about the our people and our future, she should be pounding down the doors to demand net neutrality and access for all New Mexicans. This is the way to business growth, better health and stronger families -- it is a perfect win-win situation.

The hearing was co-hosted by Free Press, the Center for Media Justice and the Media Literacy Project. If you attended, I think you would agree they did a fine job. The event was well attended, the speakers were excellent and the public hearing portion featured a diverse mix of New Mexicans of various ages and backgrounds explaining what the internet means to them. There was very compelling testimony from middle school children to adults, from artists of the spoken word to health care providers. All stressed that they NEED the internet to function well in their daily lives. What would prevent them from having affordable and easy access to the internet? Corporate greed.

Let’s face it, our country has severely fallen behind other nations in making this modern communication tool available for all. Without it, we are entering the 21st century with at least one hand tied behind our back -- and maybe even a patch on one eye and cotton stuffed in one ear. Severely handicapped.

What is net neutrality about? Simply, a fast lane for all versus a slow lane; monopolies setting the rules with only profit in mind versus common-sense regulations that assure fair access for everyone.  The issue of net neutrality is really about the future of all communication in America -- and who will have access. Who will learn and grow and who will be left behind? In the past, we have instituted rules developed for the common good in many areas important to the public -- highways, railroads, telephones, our public air waves. Now we need to do the same for internet access.

The battle is really about preserving our democracy.

The last speaker at the podium was FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. When I saw this rather curmudgeonly figure walking to the podium, I thought oh crap ... I know what this guy is going to say and it won't be good. But I was very wrong. I discovered that Copps is a true liberal -- in the traditional and best sense of the word. He talked about the needs of the people and strengthening democracy, about the greedy corporations, about the lack of comprehensive and even-handed news on our public air waves. It was refreshing to hear him discuss the importance of ensuring that our communication networks serve the public interest and provide access to wide-ranging and diverse news sources so Americans can be educated on informed on the issues.

“Right now we are not getting the news that democracy needs to sustain it,” Commissioner Copps said. "Opinions are not facts."


Michael Copps on media failures

Commissioner Copps listened intently to each and every person testifying -- taking notes, nodding his head and even clapping at times! He was authentically engaged in the testimony. He said he hadn't heard from so many young folks in other hearings, and he found their sweet voices insightful in the debate. He said he also enjoyed the creativity of the spoken word artists who testified. What he saw and heard was pure New Mexico -- a whole crop of creative, smart, hardworking, caring people ready to engage in the battle at hand.


Spoken word testimony

In conclusion, Commissioner Copps urged people to stay involved and keep up the pressure for real net neutrality and ready access for all. He said although grassroots work is never easy, it's necessary to make sure the will of the people is heard. “Truth has got to go out like water across the land,” he said. “People must understand what is at stake. You --action -- now” is what's needed.


Commissioner Copps calls for citizen action now

Click for a playlist of all the video clips from this hearing.

All photos and videos by M.E. Broderick.

You can see a video of the entire hearing at the New Mexico in Focus website, as well as a video and live blog archive at Freepress. Check out reports on various aspects of the hearing at local blogs NM FBIHOP and El Grito, at the Colorlines site, The Hill and Save the Internet.

November 18, 2010 at 02:27 PM in Hispanic Issues, Media, Minority Issues, Native Americans, Net Neutrality, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sneak Preview: Moyers on Saving the Internet

Moyers2

Be sure to tune into the next installment of the top-notch new Moyers On America series that will be aired on PBS stations this week. On KNME Albuquerque/Santa Fe, you can see it on Wednesday, October 18 at 9:00 PM. (See below for additional dates and times.) This time Bill Moyers focuses on The Net at Risk and delves into the threats to our freedom of access to the internet that are being pushed strongly by big telecom and cable interests. Click to see a video preview of the show plus much, much more about the program and the issues it considers.

Perhaps most dangerous is the heavily financed (and fact-challenged) effort by big telecoms and cable to get rid of so-called "net neutrality" and replace it with a tiered system where big players who can afford high fees can get better connectivity. Net neutrality has provided a level playing field for all users and content providers from the inception of the internet, not just deep pocket powerhouses. That could change if the massive telecom bill that's already passed the House gains approval in the Senate without amendments to restore our net neutrality protections. Already the FCC has ruled against net neutrality. This may be our last chance to preserve our freedoms on the net and avoid the concentrations of power and access that have become endemic on TV and in other media.

This is the real deal, folks. If we don't win this, you won't recognize what the big media and communications conglomerates will do to the net. If we can judge their future behavior by their past, we can expect big players to have the advantage of lightning fast connections for visitors while bloggers, innovators, start-ups, musicians, artists and political commentators that aren't connected with the megacorps will be hard to access. To learn more, visit SaveTheInternet.com and FreePress.net

Contact Your Senator AGAIN
Fortunately, the damaging telecom bill has failed so far to be heard in the Senate. However, there will undoubtedly be another push to get the bill to the Senate floor after the election, so it's vital that we continue to urge our Senators to stop it unless it's amended to solidly protect net neutrality. New Mexico's Senator Jeff Bingaman has so far refused to publicly support net neutrality and pledge to vote nay on any telecom bill that doesn't preserve it. You can contact him here: Sen. Jeff Bingaman

KNME - Channel 5 (Albuquerque/Santa Fe)
Moyers on America
The Net at Risk: The Internet's future, including the role of big business.

  • Wednesday, October 18, 9:00 PM
  • Thursday, October 19, 2:00 AM
  • Friday, October 20, 9:30 PM
  • Saturday, October 21, 3:30 AM

Here's a listing of the scheduled rebroadcasts of the previous Moyers in America show:

KNME - Channel 5 (Albuquerque/Santa Fe)
Moyers on America: Is God Green?
The evangelical community's embrace of environmentalism.

Wednesday, October 11, 9:00 PM
Thursday, October 12, 3:00 AM
Friday, October 13, 9:00 PM
Saturday, October 14, 3:00 AM

October 16, 2006 at 11:22 AM in Media, Net Neutrality | Permalink | Comments (3)