Friday, November 09, 2007

Michael Baisden Smears, Then Half-Ass Apologizes to Color of Change

Radio Disc Jockey Michael Baisden has been attacking Color of, an online activist organization formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Color of Change was one of the first blogs to give light and to raise money for The Jena Six.

Hat tip to Prometheus 6 and Jack and Jill Politics for alerting me to this situation.

From Jack and Jill:

Michael Baisden Attacks Color of Change and Jena 6 families

Michael Baisden is an emerging figure on African-American radio with a syndicated drive time show. For reasons that appear at best, self-serving, he and another DJ have gone on the attack against the laudable leadership Color of Change has shown in bringing needed attention to the plight of the Jena 6 families. They have provided real on the ground support. Despite direct communications with Michael Baisden and his staff, Baisden has chosen to air falsehoods promoted by one of the Jena 6 father, Marcus Jones. Other bloggers like Prometheus 6 and Eddie Griffin have the dope.

This is a shame. It's really a shame because it threatens to divide a successful organizing coalition that happened online among our own community and spread from there across the nation and the world. As a card-carrying member of Color of Change, I am outraged by the unjustified slander against them by a man known mostly for his advice to the lovelorn and not his civil rights activism. It's ok if he wants to be like Tom Joyner when he grows up. But not by climbing on the backs of sincere brothers and sisters trying to make a difference.

Rest of column is here.

Prometheus 6 has several posts about this situation. In order:

This is why I hate shit like this

We yield the floor to Chris Rabb

Baisden blowback

Wait...Mr. Baisden has collected money for the Jena 6??

Baisden issues part of an apology to Color of Change

Afro-Netizen has written a good post about the importance of issue between Baisden and Color of Change.

Jena 6, the Black netroots & the importance of media literacy

Recently, a storm has brewed over allegations by popular radio host Michael Baisden that progressive advocacy group,, has defrauded one of the Jena 6 families.

It is a serious, unsubstantiated and ridiculous charge from a man who took the lead in the corporate radio community to advocate for and promote the Jena 6. But that said, while we're all entitled to differing opinions, we're not entitled to different facts.

Afro-Netizen unequivocally supports They represent the future and power of renewed civic engagement in our communities. They honor the spirit of generations of Blackfolk and other freedom-fighters who organized around the message instead of merely venerating a given messenger. promotes and thrives on decentralization, diffusing influence and resources to individuals from all walks of life to get involved in ways that the cults of charismatic leadership discourage and corporate media fear.

I do not know Micheal Baisden, nor listen to his show (and rarely listen to corporate radio). So, this is really not a counter-attack. Because, really, this is not about whether Baisden is "good or bad". It's analogous to the common expression, "Do you see the glass as half-full or half-empty?". Because in actuality, any many contexts, the best answers come from related, but unasked questions like, "What's in the glass?" and "Who's glass is it?"

Michael Baisden may not be an employee for ABC Radio, but as long as ABC doesn't kick him off the air, he's doing their bidding. And doing their bidding is essentially producing consistently high ratings to increase their advertising rates and revenues towards maximizing shareholder value for what is a publicly-held media titan -- one of only a handful of such behemoths that is strangling our democracy and so-called "free speech". is a progressive, independent and under-resourced non-profit. It is a labor of love by its stakeholders, manifested as an innovative civic enterprise whose potential is only limited by the commitment, creativity and energy of its ever-growing membership. is an honorable and vital member of 21st Century freedom-fighters with whom Afro-Netizen stands shoulder to shoulder.

Interestingly, on Michael Baisden's own website, he chose to highlight his Jena-related activity with a photo of him & Rev. Al Sharpton, while giving no mention to nor the Black netroots community whatsoever who predated his on-air efforts to promote the Jena 6 affair.

But again, this matter is bigger than both Baisden and

This is about whether we allow corporate media to facilitate COINTELPRO 2.0 to divide and conquer the emerging Black netroots community.

Many entrenched Negroes who have poo-pooed those of us in the Black netroots community as lap dogs of "white liberal activists" (read:, are afraid that they will have to become accountable to the rhetoric they have almost begun to believe after all these years without the antiseptic of transparency.

The reality is, Afro-Netizen need not name names in this regard. But toward interested readers doing their own research on who's promoting whose agenda, as my late hell-raising activist maternal grandmother (inspiring the moniker "Geronimo" by Baltimore politicos) liked to remind me sternly: "Consider the source!" (Not unlike the ever sanguine pearl: "Follow the money.")

This is why media literacy is so important to disadvantaged communities who do not genuinely control their own media. Because if we knew who owns what and what they are are about, the current and future Baisden-like fiascoes would be taken for what they are: distractions from the much larger threat of media consolidation at the expense of widening and amplifying the diverse, autonomous voices of communities color.

And for all the good things Baisden may have said or done around Jena and other salient issues, if you haven't heard him mention "media literacy", "media consolidation" or "media justice", now you know why.

Chris Rabb on Thursday, November 08, 2007 at 03:34 PM

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