I was super pumped to see the Southern Media Makers Caucus on the agenda today at the Allied Media Conference, and a little disappointed in the way it played out.
The facilitator, Jordan Flaherty (of Left Turn fame), feeling an under-representation of Southerners at the conference over the years, wanted to know how we could bring the AMC back to the South and/or how we could bring more of the South to the AMC in future. Does the South need an AMC of its very own?
The vast majority of the discussion surrounded apparently internalized stereotypes made by Yankees/Northerners/East & West Coasters about people from the South, feelings that (don’t know about you) we talk about a lot already with our fellow Southerners.
Southerners are lazy, slow, uneducated, racist, backwards, etc. You know what I’m talking about. The consensus, it seemed, is that we need more access to technology (rurally and locally) and more regional communication (social networking?), which will be facilitated best through the internet.
I’m concerned though, and I’m guilty of this myself sometimes, that we in the South are maybe idolizing what we think is “better” organizing in other regions of the US. I would argue that, while the North East and the West Coast seem better “connected” or successful, in truth their organizing is simply more visible.
I’d like to know, if we start moving our energies into Southern regional coalition building, what will come of our local projects? Additionally, how can we collaborate with communities that have little access to computers and low literacy rates if we’re shifting our focus towards technology-based communication? Do we have to address literacy and computer literacy and then access to technology before we even begin to unify the South through the internets, so we can really then “start” organizing amongst ourselves? Or, can we keep organizing where we and our communities are already at?
In my experience, Southern organizing is more often than not a direct response to a community need. Instead of forming a coalition, and then consensing on our demands, and holding a press conference to ask our supporters to write to their congressmen, we just try to do it ourselves. We’re not interested in re-inventing the wheel or even fixing it. We’re working around it instead.
Southern brethren, don’t believe the hype! We ain’t backwards or stupid and we should not have to compare our work to that of the North, the Mid West, or either coasts. Our regions and communities exist amongst geographically specific cultural, historical, and environmental conditions and work with different (and often fewer) resources. Our peoples have many beautiful and distinct ways of surviving and thriving that already lead to decentralized and horizontally organized alternate structures to those of capitalism and the state. We’re accidentally anarchist! How lovely! Let’s not fix that please!