For weeks leading up to my fourth birthday I listened to Radio Cultural Campesina with anticipation. My mom had promised me a shout out, and no present could get me more amped than that. Mexican community radio in the 90s was about power to the people. It was resistance wrapped up in laughter, corridos, and political debate. I go back to these scattered memories of community storytelling through radio waves often, as I think about what it means to have independent platforms to lift the power and stories of our communities.
In my work at Voices with youth, we always acknowledge the lies mainstream media tells us about who we are. We recognize mainstream culture is invested in replicating narratives that hold the logic of racism—and that the biggest trick that systems, media, and people can play on us is to convince us we don’t have the power to define our own stories.
AMPLIFY: Organizing for Media Change and Racial Justice will be held May 20thand 21st. It’s a convening developed by our team at voices with local organizers, cultural workers, and artists in partnership with the Media Action Grassroots Network. The goal is to share tools, resources and workshops that will be useful as we build powerful narratives in our work and provide an opportunity to connect with different local communities creating and organizing for media change and racial justice.
If you’re wondering why it matters to talk media change when we talk racial justice,the simple answer is that it’s too urgent not to. That the threat to open internet is a threat to economic justice. That we can’t talk about structural inequality in low-wealth communities of color, without talking about the fact that these communities pay the highest rates for internet, and that families are being left to have to choose between an internet bill and a water bill. That we can’t talk about prison justice without talking about access to phone lines and the exorbitant rates families of incarcerated loved ones have to pay to talk to them. That high-tech surveillance is taking the violence of racial profiling to a whole new level. That the fight for independent media platforms is one against corporate control and if we really want to shift the narratives or our art, our work, and who we are, we need to build our own platforms.
Join us next week as we share, vision, learn about new opportunities to build bridges across our art, media and organizing.