Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Deray McKesson on activism

"I love Twitter. I think about Twitter as the friend that’s always awake. It’s why I tweet so much. I’m interested to see which of the platforms will be the first one that allows people to build skills. Right now, mostly, it’s about information sharing. We haven’t seen a platform really be [about] skill building, so I’m hoping that’ll come next. It’s been interesting to see Snapchat grow and change, [and] I think that in the coming years we’ll see that. I’m not one of the people who is a Twitter doomsday person. I think that we’ll see the golden days of Twitter ahead.

I think that we have to be open to new ways of organizing and new ways of building community. I’m mindful that we aren’t born woke, something wakes us up, and for so many people, what woke them up was a tweet or a Facebook post, an Instagram post, a picture. I never criticize people who [others] deem to be Twitter activists, or hashtag activists, because I know that telling the truth is often a tough act, no matter where you tell that truth. I think that’s important. I think that we’ll continue to see the platforms push and redefine the way we organize.
In terms of the new organizing, you think about how you can use people on Slack and mobilize them, you think about how we can spread messages on Twitter. I think that we’re just at the beginning of seeing the power of technology to really push in the social justice and the equity space. I think that moving forward in terms of what the solutions look like, I think we’ll see platforms like Twilio be really important. I think we’ll see these sort of quieter, seemingly, platforms take a primary role."

This is a great Q&A for a prominent activist of our time, reflecting on how technology works for activism, and what needs to be done to move forward from here.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Why do some protests work while others fail?

"One of the most consistent answers I got was that protesters should realize that protests aren’t enough. There’s a real risk of catharsis being the start and end of the resistance to Trump: Protesting feels good and righteous, but if nothing comes after then it may not accomplish that much. It’s key, therefore, to understand the limits of protests and to put them in a broader activism context. 'There are some people that think that protests solve everything; you just have a protest, it’s going to make everything change,' said Fabio Rojas, a professor at Indiana University and the author of From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline. 'That’s not true — it is a tool that does a very specific thing, and you have to understand that when you start out.'
Protests are effective — sometimes very effective, in the case of big ones — at drawing attention to a given cause, and all else being equal they have an impact. 'There’s a lot of research showing that there is an effect of protest on policy,' he said. 'If you protest rather than do nothing, that does seem to attract attention, and that does seem to make institutions lean in your direction.' But beyond that, it’s important, Rojas said, to have a clear sense of what a given protest is for.' What are you really trying to accomplish with a protest? Are you trying to influence a specific policy? Are you trying to build solidarity within the movement? Are you trying to persuade people who are watching the movement, or even trying to persuade people on the other side of the movement?'”

What to protest about and what to do along with protesting seem to be 2 key parts of success.