Dear community media friends,
Try as I might to stay focused on catching up in the office after our inspiring summit in Albuquerque, the horrific massacre of nine people during a Bible study session at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston is something I can’t shake.
I looked around the room in Albuquerque and I saw America.
I saw true diversity that reflects our population. I heard from legions of dedicated folks who want nothing more than to give a voice to communities that are marginalized and exploited. I heard how they struggle to navigate absurd bureaucracies, a morass of unnecessary regulation, and a public media culture that pathologizes them for being “small market” and “amateur”. I listened in awe as they generously shared their successes and earnestly considered their challenges. I heard their frustration as they try to crack the nut of how you are supposed to just magically squeeze more dollars out of people living in poverty so that you can prove that your community cares enough to have the luxury of non-commercial media in service to them (aka: a free press).
Here’s a quote from Charleston that stabbed my heart:
John Mullins, a former classmate of Roof’s at White Knoll High School, told the Daily Beast that Roof “made a lot of racist jokes” but people never really took them seriously. “You don’t really think of it like that,” Mullins said.
You don’t really think of it like that? Really? You don’t really think of the implications for our country, a country that was built on, indeed got rich on, genocide, racialized terrorism and white supremacy?
Silence is a conspiracy in these matters. You all have the public airwaves in your hands……use them wisely. Not to incite more violence and destruction, not to hide the truth, but to speak truth to power.
Set aside any petty agendas and self-defeating practices that are dragging down your stations and diminishing the power of your work. Re-dedicate yourself to the shared values of upholding and uplifting DIVERSITY, LOCALISM, COMMUNITY, and JUSTICE.
There is no time to waste. We cannot allow this “open season” on our brothers and sisters. We cannot sanction hate. We cannot call ourselves community media and blindly nod to the status quo. Ya Basta!