To Our MediaJustice Community,
Regardless of who wins the election this year, we already know the outcome for Black and brown lives. Racial inequities in healthcare and workplaces will continue to claim the lives of BIPOC communities as this pandemic persists. Police killing Black people won’t stop. When we protest, property will be valued more than Black lives.
Team #MediaJustice will be here ready to organize and build the power we need to #ProtectBlackDissent.
For generations, our communities have always known that when we organize, build power, and win – the state doubles down to undermine our progress. And we know that one place they set their sights first is on stripping away our right to protest. While white militias mobilize intimidation tactics to suppress the Black vote, law enforcement agencies are focused on going after “Antifa”. Harmful disinformation targeting Black and Latinx communities spreads widely on social media, while platforms like Facebook and Youtube refuse to take down content for fear of appearing partisan. Black dissent is treated like the problem when in fact it’s a warning sign. The strength of our democracy rests on the power of Black dissent.
At MediaJustice, we know this, and we invite you to join us in this fight. We present you with our Agenda to #ProtectBlackDissent, the fights that MediaJustice will be prioritizing over the coming weeks, they include:
End FBI Surveillance of Black Activists
Three years ago, we learned about the FBI’s 2017 intelligence assessment report which warned 18,000 local law enforcement agencies that Black activists protesting police violence, are a domestic threat and labeled us “Black Identity Extremists”. MediaJustice, ACLU, Free Press, Movement Alliance Project and countless allies from our #ProtectBlackDissent campaign brought these concerns to Congress last year, & yet the false, racist “Black Identity Extremist” label as well as “Operation Iron Fist” (essentially, the 21st century COINTELPRO) are still in use.
Over those three years, over 200,000 people have signed our petitions demanding Congress to take action – we’ve urged our representatives to investigate the FBI for its surveillance of Black activists and to cease funding for surveillance tools. Regardless of who wins the election, Congress still has a responsibility to act and repair the harm caused by the continued government surveillance intended to undermine our movements.
Defend Our Movements
While we’ll continue to pressure our representatives to exercise their leadership and stand up in defense of Black lives, we must have a community-facing safety plan that protects us from both the political and technological threats that face our movements. Check out our #DefendOurMovements database that includes a range of educational resources and materials on surveillance tools, digital safety tips, and crisis planning. We recommend starting with our most recent blogs below:
Hold Tech Companies Accountable
Technology is mirroring the same systemic violence that undervalues Black lives and we can’t allow #BigTech billionaires to pretend to be passive by-standers. Dis/mis information (check our folder below for definitions) that spreads and goes unchecked on our social media platforms impacts our movements and derails our progress. The Right is getting more savvy with how to target racist propaganda to our communities and tech companies have an obligation to stop the spread of hateful and racist information.
As a member of the Disinfo Defense League, MediaJustice is working to train and resource our communities with the information we need to identify and stop the spread of this racist propaganda. To learn more about our work on Disinformation, feel free to visit our online folder here
We’ve also already given #BigTech companies five concrete ways they can change course now to defend Black Lives, yet new threats keep emerging from their failure to act. The Intercept just exposed Twitter for abandoning its commitment to stand in Defense of Black Lives when it allowed Dataminr to collect and share information about demonstrations or protests with law enforcement.This violated the platform’s own surveillance policies, policies allegedly reinforced in 2016 after civil rights groups exposed Twitter then for helping the police and the government surveil users on the platform. Since Twitter doesn’t seem to be getting the message, please follow @mediajustice and join us for an upcoming digital action this month demanding Twitter terminate its partnership and investment in Dataminr.
Stop Media Manipulation and the Spread of Disinformation
News coverage of the George Floyd uprisings failed at telling the right, or even complete story. Sensationalized images of “looting” by protesters and violent clashes with police dominate the media and fail to explain or educate the public about the core demands of this still active movement for liberation and justice. We’re not violent extremists, looters or criminals as AG Barr has repeatedly insisted this summer. Journalists can and should do better to ensure activists on the ground are on the front lines of news coverage as well.
- Before and After the Vote: A Journalism-Resource Database (Free Press)
- How to Talk to Friends and Family Who Share Misinformation (Pen America)
- Backgrounder: Deepfakes in 2020 (Witness)
Meanwhile, false narratives and coordinated campaigns of disinformation are spreading in Black and Latinx communities, often aided by people in our communities who amplify and share bad content. People of color have always been on the receiving end of false and manipulated media, from harmful media stereotypes like the “superpredators” and “Welfare Queen” in the 1990s. MediaJustice started out as an organization teaching young Black and brown organizers how to analyze media more effectively. While the scale of the problem is different today, due to the volume of content we are exposed to, we have the tools to analyze disinformation and prevent it from causing harm in our communities. Follow MediaJustice to ensure you receive the latest updates on events and resources.
Yours in struggle,
Steven, Myaisha and the rest of Team #MediaJustice