Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Social Forum Part Three

Saturday was the last day of workshops at the Social Forum, and I only went to two of them. My major goal by then was to attend things that I hadn't gotten a chance to do during the rest of the day. One was to go to a hip-hop session; there were several at the conference, but the one I had tried to attend on Friday was restricted to people of color only. The one I chose was called "COINTELPRO to Rapintelpro." While the name suggested government surveillance, the panel's most interesting feature was the inside discussion of "urban radio" marketing that we got from Davey D, an Oakland activist who once worked at AOL/Time Warner and Clear Channel.
The government element in the presentation was the recent NYCLU subpoena of NYPD documentsrelated to the 2004 RNC convention, which revealed that the police had been spying on people as "radical" and "way out" as Alicia Keys and Jay Z, but that was not such new news.
The corporate aspect of the censorship was also chilling. Davey D. talked about the way commercial radio has tried to get audiences to focus on brands (Yo MTV raps; Summerjams, etc) instead of artists, and described what programming directors would say when refusing to play artists such as Talib Kweli on urban radio ("our audience is not intelligent enough for that.") while record companies chose to market him and other political or "conscious" rappers through surfing and skateboarding magazines. The audience for this event was diverse and the conversation, while limited because the people in the front had so much to say, interesting.

** *
I had workshop fatigue and skipped the middle of the day to go to the "solidarity tents" and buy a t-shirt.
Then I headed for a 3:30 workshop by the group that had the buzz of the forum: Right to the City, a national alliance of urban community organizations working against gentrification. The workshop I went to was not the most popular one they did, and started off a little slowly, but became interesting later on. (My friend Alex said that he'd encountered this at another workshop, and thought that the audience of the social forum was such that workshop organizers would have to pitch their discussions past the introductory level in order to maintain interest.) So, for example, when people at this workshop were just talking about the basics of what they did in their groups, and answering questions with rather obvious platitudes, people were leaving. When people started to get into the nitty gritty of leadership development, and then - finally - the relationship of paid staff to membership organizations, it got much more interesting. That last issue in particular led to a dialogue between workshop presenters and audience members, who included people such as members of New York's Picture the Homeless and the fabulous FIERCE.

and that's all for now.


matt capri said...

Thanks for posting all this stuff. I keep saying that these sorts of events in the U.S. get progressively better as time goes on. That probably gooes even for NCOR. Even so I consistently neglect to plan for and go to any.
It's the kind of laziness about traveling that people acquire growing up so close to NYC.
So thanks for these report backs, the greater the variety of available report backs the merrrier.

reb said...

More social forum info. Common Dreams has an article today that also has comments.

Anonymous said...

Reb: I hate to trouble you, but I had a question about Josie Fowler and I couldn't locate an e-mail address for you. While I'm happy that her book was just published, I wondered about the status of her other writings. I'm a friend of hers from Minnesota and would appreciate it if you could e-mail me at storysouth (AT SIGN) yahoo (DOT) com.


Jason Sanford

max said...

Great (quick) report backs, after taking a few days to decompress i finally spent the weekend writing down some thoughts over at: www.ideasforaction.org