I am a black woman. Why do we often find ourselves under some kind of hyper-surveillance...looked upon with so much criminality?
I am a registered voter.
I am a small business owner.
I am a fiancee.
I am a college grad three times over.
I am an educator.
I have worked since I was 14.
I smile...sometimes too much.
I laugh everyday.
I like to drive...preferably Jeeps
I don't smoke.
I don't drink.
I don't party late nights.
I go to bed before 10pm.
I go to concerts.
I go to networking events.
I call my mother regularly.
I apologize to my friends if they're hurt.
I cook my grandmother's food.
I workout 3+ times a week.
I take bubble baths.
I keep a pretty good morning routine.
I grocery shop on a budget.
I pay my taxes.
I am 135lbs and 5'9" on a good day.
I have full body arthritis.
I am vegetarian.
I eat organic if I can get it.
I like camping.
I like swimming.
I like and have played sports.
I like good music.
I write thank you cards.
I read the newspaper.
I use precision point gel pens.
I keep a small field notebook with me everywhere
I read a book every week.
I have mid-neck length, thin dreads.
I am in an interracial relationship.
I am a writer.
None of that makes us immune to racism. Subtle or overt. That's the only conclusion I have come to.
Black women seem to never be able to merit ourselves out of the conscious and subconscious projections of a society-- struggling with its desires and isms, spoken or unspoken.
[Short Version: A = B; B = C: A = C. Trump responds to bravado; bravado is what rappers emulate: Trump tries to emulate rappers, their cultural cache. Trump talks to those he admires. He doesn’t vibe with the classic straight man type (See Comey). In a time where there is a domestic crisis in political access to and sway with the president, cultural inroads need to be made. Who's the rapper that has been in most recent contact with President Trump? Mr. Kanye West. Thus, Kanye needs to talk to Trump. I, hereby, dub Kanye Ambassador to the President.]
“Blue collar billionaire” sounds like a rap song. It’s not, but it’s what Don Jr. called his father, our president, earlier this year while defending him on charges of racism . Don Jr. continues, “You know it’s amazing--all the rappers, all his African-American friends, from Jesse Jackson to Al Sharpton, have pictures with him” . Charles Blow, in Trump, 'He's Like a Rapper' writes, “[Trump’s] previous and present relationships with hip-hop royalty have put the hip-hop royals in a bind, because the racism we see was not their experience of him. For them, his racism was muted by their money” .
Trump’s complicated relationship with rappers can be termed, what Blow calls, “the racism of exceptions.” (Example: Marveling at black people’s music or swagger but not liking actual black people). It has been argued by black celebrities, who knew Trump prior to the election, that his stance toward issues of race felt very different than the vitriolic tone that he set and, consequently, unearthed during his campaign.
Again, the president’s relationship with black celebrities is a complex one, for sure. Because my aim is to make the argument that cultural inroads need to be made to the Oval Office, to get the right messaging to the president, it is important to note Trump’s affection for rappers. The common thread, the affinity that Trump shares with rap culture is an embracing of rebel culture. That doesn’t mean that Trump’s brand of disruption has been nearly as ameliorative and positive, globally, as hip hop has been. What it means is a shared style for challenging the status quo.
Our country is not perfect, neither is our president, nor our cultural icons. Yet and still, there is a country that needs to be run. I am very much at odds with Trump’s views on women’s rights, issues in housing discrimination and respecting relationships with our political allies. Nonetheless, someone has to be able to reach the president. Trump needs someone who speaks Twitter.
The President’s affinity for strongmen gives us a clue as to energy he responds to. Prowess. The issue is that strongmen come with complicated politics...Let’s say the dictatorial, fascist kind. Our president is not immune. Similarly, for all the cultural cache and legacies that rappers come with, they, too, have complicated politics. At least rappers in their craft learn to be accountable, intimately and professionally, with their fan-base.
It has been noted that Trump, in his family business, has never had to be accountable to a board of directors or shareholders . Jumping into being responsible to a whole nation, might have been a massive learning curve for him. Rappers can help with that. They have fan-bases in multiple countries. That is why I think they should talk: Trump and Kanye.
It’s not unprecedented for rap and politics to intersect. Rappers have been speaking truth to power since hip hop’s birth. Rap is inherently a political art form. The former mayor of Philly, Michael Nutter, performed “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang at his inauguration in 2008. Killer Mike, the consummate lyricist that he is and a frequent guest on Bill Maher, publicly endorsed candidate Bernie Sanders in the run up to the 2016 presidential elections .
Antonio Delgado, a Democratic candidate for Congress who won the most recent primaries in a district that is 83% white, had a fledgling career as a rapper in college. The Rhodes scholar, Harvard Law School grade, went by the name “AD the Voice” . Mr. John Faso, his running mate typified Delgado’s work as a “sonic blast of hateful rhetoric and anti-American values” . Rap’s lyrical history has been as notorious as Trump’s Twitter page. While many rappers note that policy-wise they do not agree with Trump, they find some affinity with him rhetorically.
Russell Simmons, wrote an open letter to Trump about six months after he announced his candidacy titled, To My Old Friend Donald Trump, Stop The Bullsh*t. Simmons writes, “I want to begin this tough criticism by reminding you that I am the Chairman of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, whose sole mission is to fight bigotry of all kinds...Stop fueling fires of hate. Don’t feed into the rhetoric created by small-minded people. You’re smarter and certainly more loving then you let on” .
Others have been less glowing in their commentary, but have signaled a desire to work with Trump for the sake of the country and the betterment of their communities. Such as rapper Meek Mills, who scheduled a visit to the White House earlier this year to talk about prison reform but later backed out due to political pressure and astute counsel from his friend, Jay-Z.
Trump seems to not understand the honor culture of politics but understands the honor culture of entertainment (quid pro quo). “Hey, I said nice things about you. Say nice things about me.” Politics doesn't work that way for all sorts of reason, (issues related to getting on the record & how a statement is going to be interpreted amongst one’s base, and so on and so forth).
Thus, a politician or even a military person trained in diplomacy may not speak at the same register and resonance for President Trump than an entertainer would. See the swift effect Kim Kardashian, Kanye’s wife, had in petitioning for the commuting of Alice Marie Johnson’s sentence in her June meeting with the president on prison reform.
The civil rights movement was aided by by artists leveraging their celebrity to keep the pressure on and find inroads. We had folks like Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne, Muhammad Ali & Lorraine Hansberry, to name a few. Our civil liberties are under attack. We need some celebrity power
Kanye West has a whole list of supporters. That means greater access in appealing to Kanye to appeal to the president. Kanye may help Trump understand what it means to be accountable to something larger than himself. Let the titans of Twitter talk.
There has always been a bit of theater in politics. The classic feature of breaking out into song from your standard musical is no match for the eruption of chants on the House floor Thursday as representatives belted out in unison, “U-S-A, U-S-A!” . From slamming gavels, to sit-ins, from the raucous town halls of 2016 to the rallies in Ferguson, the political process is a highly symbolic one.
It should come as no surprise that there is a connection between women in politics and women in cinema--particularly the early heroines of film. With the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, at the same time women’s rights were expanding, women’s presence as directors in film was contracting. Women have been fighting a multifront battle since the Seneca Falls Convention of the late 1800s. Where we have some successes (Roe v. Wade, Title IX), there still are areas where women’s livelihoods and full participation in society are threatened.
A new documentary series, Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers at BAMcinématek presented with Kino Lorber and the Library of Congress, takes a looks at the role of women in cinema as “directors, producers, writers and stars, and sometimes all at the same time” . Well before they won the right to vote, women like Guy Blaché, born 1873 and widely credited as the first female director, built their own studios and directed their own films .
Why don’t we know more about these women?
Similar to women in politics, women in the film industry have faced systemic barriers to participation. Manohla Dargis in The Real Gone Girls of Cinema, talks about how “directing, producing and editing [have] became masculinized” and have been “sex-typed", leaving writing as the most viable pathway for women .
The historical and collective amnesia surrounding the film industry causes many female filmmakers go unnoticed. “Too often [women filmmakers] have been written out of the history they helped make,” Dargis remarks. The power of political institutions is that they help take to task gender-biased industry practices and hold the institutional memory of our collective struggle for freedoms. At a time when there is a influx of women and people of color running for elected office in the 2018 midterms, revisiting the efforts that our forebearers have made toward ensuring full participation in society is crucial.
The current influx of women showing up as primary contenders has been compared to the 1992 Year of the Woman, when an influx of women--after the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas sexual harassment controversy--ran for office and won. Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won her second congressional primary earlier this summer, and Lauren Underwood, a House candidate from Illinois, women across the country are taking up the torch, continuing the legacy of trailblazing women by making our presence known and pushing for a seat at the table.
The challenges that women have to hurdle are formidable--yet, not impossible. They often face blockades in their career efforts and aspirations that seek to erase or obscure their contributions to the workforce. While it is sobering to realizing how many omissions have become “maddeningly routine,” as Dargis says, Blaché in a Boston newspaper was noted to be “the first of her sex to break the male monopoly on the directing of motion pictures" . Women like Ocasio-Cortez and Lauren Underwood are not only hurdling the bar that women face in a run for office, they are challengingly, in their run, barriers that people of color also have to face.
“We have to be excellent,” Underwood said, in response to the challenges that minority candidates have to surmount. The impossibility of excellency should not be something thrusted upon any elected official. Missteps will be made. It is about how we can come together and learn from them. Minority candidates, often already have difficulty in finding initial support, combating racial stereotypes and, as Asted W. Herndon writes, “a lack of trust from even members of their own party [about whether minority candidates] can succeed in predominantly white districts” .
Lauren Underwood, is a 31-year-old African-American candidate in North Aurora who won the March primaries in a predominately white district. Her platform is focused on healthcare and reducing gun violence. Underwood is one of 14 minority candidates out of the 60 party-backed Democrats running this fall . She, like Blaché, is a part of a legacy of women who proved the once-thought improbable possible.
At a time when women’s reproductive healthcare is under assault, women advocating for their rights is as crucial as it was in the 1920s wherever they may find themselves, in whatever sector of the economy or political landscape they may be. The upcoming elections are about, yes, the policies that we would like to see changed and the ones we want to stay in place. They are also about what it means to advocate for who we are--as women, as people of color, as Americans.
Donny Deutsch, on Morning Joe on Friday said that the 2018 midterms are a “fight for what your grandmothers fought for” . He’s right; it’s the “vote of [our] lifetime.”
What does poverty mean in one of the richest countries in the world? The same thing it means everywhere else: social structure. Poverty doesn’t just happen; it is thrusted upon a group. By what? Or more precisely, by whom, you ask? The wealthy. It’s simple class relations argument, right? The rich want to protect their money and the means by which they amass it. What’s new? Here’s the dynamic to notice. If big money wants to guard their coiffers, why then don’t the wealthy spend more of their political efforts and resources on fighting against other wealthy people? That’s the question that should be asked in any blanket acceptance of a class warfare argument. Why aren’t the wealthy fighting the wealthy?
An answer: Identity. Paul Krugman contends, in “The G.O.P.’s War on the Poor,” that identity is what motivates the elites and conservatives in their efforts to dismantle social protections for the poor and working poor. Writing in response to Paul Ryan’s recent declaration that Lyndon Johnson’s 50+ year-old war on poverty was a failure, Krugman shares, “...What motivates these elites is ideology. Their political identities, not to mention their careers, are wrapped up in the notion that more government is always bad. So they oppose programs that help the poor...” .
In Maine, when voters overwhelmingly supported an initiative to expand Medicaid coverage under Obamacare (ACA), their governor, Paul LePage, said that he’d rather go to jail “than see his constituents get health care” . Maine is predominately white. Arguments about the intersection of race and class are and have been central to the issue of class division. Yet, in the case of Maine where 93% of its population is white , it remains starkly clear: Controlling for race, elites still pit themselves against the lower and middle classes.
What’s happening is comparable to the The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, picking a fight with Steve Carell from The Office. And that still would be a fairer fight than 1% of the world owning 99% of the world’s wealth . What’s going on?
In Barack Obama’s commemorative trip to Kenya in honor of what would have been Nelson Mendela’s 100th birthday to launch a new charity initiative with his sister Auma, Obama talked about the societal and technological advantages that lifted over a billion people out of poverty . Not “denying the very real strides that the world has made,” Obama states, “admitting that whatever laws may have existed on the books, whatever pronouncements...previous structures of privilege and power and injustice and exploitation never completely went away. They were never fully dislodged” .
With all of the changes in ideology and identity politics in the post-Obama era, the realization of full equality under the law has a long way to go, and in many cases has been eroded or stalled. Take a look in the recent months of union-busting, stagnant wages and systemic gender barriers in the workplace. And the wealthy like it that way. It’s a hard pill to swallow. The aspirational goal to rise up from the lower rungs of society into the solid middle and upper classes is, at best, mythological. The exceptional cases skew the realities of the rule. The forces that the monied has put in place are to protect their greed.
Again, the question remains: With 1% owning almost everything, we should be seeing them fighting with each other rather than squeezing the last percentage point of wealth. Why are they pitting themselves against the 99%?
Ah, we return to ideology. Could it be that the elite’s idea of themselves and their understanding of where and how real wealth is created makes them protectionist? The rich control and sit on their wealth. The workers make the wealth--are the wealth. No amount of money can protect those at that level from realizing from whom their (syphoned) blessings flow.
[Idealistic Bubble Moment: What shared premise, shared identity can the wealthy and the poor find together that brings them into a more compassionate understanding and advocacy for holistic stewards of the planet’s resources? Could that be the whole point of an American identity?]
What does getting enough water have to do with diplomacy?
Besides the coughing spell that Prime Minister Theresa May had this past fall during a speech to Parliament, having access to water can teach a lot about diplomatic relations. Most economic issues can be boiled down to activity and provision, policy and trade. Political strategy is method that pushed for behavioral change by constraining necessary resources. Water, I’d say, is pretty necessary.
In an article, “How to Keep Your Body Properly Hyrdrated” by Jane E. Brody, she notes that “people can survive for only three or four days--a week at most--without water” . The body needs nutrients like countries need trade channels. It’s about infusion. The basic needs of a person is tied to the basic needs of a country. What each entity needs to survive is the foundational premise to get a diplomatic conversation started.
Countries want to get things done for their population. With the economic climate increasingly becoming niche market focused--global is now local--the next stages of political relations can be seen as entering a stage of socioeconomic tribalism. Okay, you are probably asking, “What does that have to do with water?” Everything. We need water to get things done.
The impact of inadequate hydration hurts performance and leads to malnutrition. There are damaging physical, cognitive and health effects, according to Brody, of dehydration. Her article offers preventative measures that people can use during, for example, hot summer months such as eating high-water content foods like chia seeds, cucumbers and pears.
If half the population was walking around dehydrated, that would be a major hit to GDP, to the nation’s economy. Plus, think about how decision-making would be impacted if people were walking around half-dazed. (Now, that is nothing against gatherings like Woodstock or a family barbeque). Yet, we are talking about economic decision-making affected by the constraining of vital resources.
Malnutrience results from resources as some level being missing from the development of a person. The impact on decision-making and developmental skill of a malnourished child can be seen well into their advanced educational years. Think of the impact to individual and collective earning power when an otherwise healthy person lacks adequate care.
The World Health Organization, according to a New York Times Op Ed piece, is currently being pushed by U.S. delegates to “water down or scrap simple a simple resolution meant to encourage breastfeeding in underdeveloped countries” . When Ecuador was readying to present an “uncontroversial measure” to advocate for breastfeeding, the Trump administration threatened to enact “punishing trade measures” and withdraw “crucial military aid unless the country dropped it” .
Balking to powerful industry lobbying from baby formula companies, the Trump administration overreached into the needs of women and children all the way over into another continent. This shows how necessary resources are frequently leveraged to create behavioral change between countries. This is the essence of trade war.
War is a way to create or access resources deemed necessary. So is diplomacy. Yet, diplomacy, when done correctly, leaves more room for peaceable relations to help support increased access. Trump’s diplomatic strategy has been an “America first” approach and can feel like “Trumping” or bullying his way through a deal.
We don’t need another war. Nor do we need continual overreach into the lives of women and children. What we need is more diplomacy and a better understanding of what it means to mutually protect and share in each other’s resources.
What is it in the phrase “for the least of these” that inspires people to take action? What is it that strikes a chord in us when we hear the words, “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” etched on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty? In following the stories of the detained young migrants from Central America as they are shuttled from place to place, in seeing the outcry from the folks in Washington and the larger public, I’ve been asking myself, “How to we react to people in vulnerable situations?”
Vulnerability seems to be the essence of what rallies communities together. Vulnerability is the foundation of social contracts. It is the starting place of policy. The policies created by the Trump administration and the ones from our already troubled immigration system, have exacerbated vulnerability rather than alleviated it. Policy is supposed to protect. The question is for whom and for what.
Where we are all global citizens, we are all inheritors and protectors of the planet we live on. Land is connected to our sense of personhood, and with that understanding we are afforded, in the U.S. unalienable rights. According to federal law, it is required that “all children on American soil receive a free public education, regardless of their immigration status” . This shows that the framers of the laws that we enjoy as freedoms had in mind what would it mean to compassionately respond to populations in distress.
While, yes, the point can be and has been made at education, like much of our social institutions, are centers for assimilation and social codification, in moments of crises, people need to know what is going on--on both sides of the issue. The migrant children need to understand what they are about to experience. The constituents and their representatives need to know how to best respond to the needs of the families entering their borders.
Policy debates on immigration, at the core of them, are really about acknowledging vulnerability.
Connecting the vulnerability experienced by one population to that of another gets us to focus on less of the hot button issues and to the heart of the matter: How to care for one another?
Familiarization is one way to create a feeling of care. The curriculum that the migrant children are being taught includes a focus on American civics, government, patriotism and geography . That is familiarization in terms of landscape. Health and Human Services requires assessments on “linguistic ability” as well as “cultural diversity and sensitivity” for children in shelters ; this includes children domestically already in foster care. On the part of the care providers, getting a baseline understanding of the children’s individual needs is part of familiarization.. Getting to know one another better takes vulnerability as it alleviates vulnerability.
Both groups are experiencing what it feels like to be in flux, to lack a safe and stable home environment. Coming to agreement on how to care about the intersecting needs of migrant and homeless populations includes tapping into what it means to be in a vulnerable position, what it means lose a safe haven.
What a social contract is erected to protect is vulnerability. Appealing to vulnerability is a way to help refocus debate on immigration or homelessness into something that we all can relate to: the precariousness that comes with living. What would it mean to approach policy from a care-centered approach?
People in vulnerable situations often are more responsive when people show they care. They find resonance in care-centered approach. They feel seen. When we notice that others notice our struggles, it creates a heart to heart connection that allows for healing. That kind of healing can last for years, especially for migrant and foster care children. I know this personally. I’ve been through it.
During my foster care experience in the third grade, my social worker taught be how to thrift store shop. When children are removed from their homes into foster care, there often is little time to grab all, if any, of their belongings. Clothing is often the first thing they need. State agencies have tight budgets and have to be creative in meeting the needs of children in distress. Thrift stores provide a valuable resource. They are super affordable.
Some thrift stores have dressing room; some do not. My social worker taught me a quick way to see if pants or a skirt would fit me if there wasn’t a dressing room by taking the waist of a garment and wrapping it around my neck. If it fit, edge to edge, then it would fit around my waist. It worked. This is how I still shop.
How many kids did she teach this skill, knowing what they were going through? How has her approach shown years of care and understanding of migrant and foster children’s challenges? My social worker did not make me feel like a “ charity case.” She taught me with stoicism and grace of a mother showing her kids what it means to be living.
Because someone cared enough to show me a strategy for shopping on a shoestring budget, I was able to buy work clothes for interviews or a normal day at the office.One moment of care rippled out into a strategy that has helped me during tough economic times.
What if we thought of policy not as some thing or regulation we had to follow or enact but a representation of a care-centered approach we get to offer?
Language is a line. It is a way for us to reach each other. It is a thread to the patchwork that becomes our lives and the world in which we live. The same can be said for technology in the digital age. Language, in a sense, is a kind of technology. Like telephone poles and cable wires transmit signals from one point to the next, communication allows us to speak to one another from what often feels like our isolated vantage points. One of the primary messages that we communicate is being in pain.
Lyric poetry is often described as a prison song overheard. It is a lamentation of pain in the form of a poem. The lyric poet sings to feel less lonely in the world. The poem is a line casted into the sea or air or a dream. Much of our communication travels along lines, threads and systems--and, in part, has been created to respond to pain. Whether it is about imminent danger, where to find food so that groups do not starve or where to find work that fulfills a deep need inside ourselves, communication helps us pool in more resources and feel less alone in our daily struggles.
Pain is a record of living. Living is expenditure, the inhalation and exhalation of breath. At crucial moments of our lives finding all that is necessary to language pain can be tough. In my life I found that when something traumatic or painful happens, it can take days, weeks, and, sometimes, even months to put all the words together. When something hurts us, it is like a shattering effect. Gathering the right words and tone, piece by piece, takes time and, eventually, becomes a process we call healing.
Healing and creating coping mechanism for the bumps and bruises that come along with living, is what we do. However, the opioid crisis over the last two years, has shown us that coping can go too far. What’s important to note, as Clinton Lawson does in her article America’s 150-Year Opioid Epidemic (2018), the abuse of pain meds and the existence of opioid crises are not new. They are markers for something more systemic occuring in society that is asking for healing--new methods of healing.
Lawson writes, “Most started out like Ella Henderson, who suffered from emotional trauma and chronic pain, for which she was prescribed copious amounts of morphine. She became addicted, was abandoned by the medical community and judged by her neighbors, and ultimately overdosed alone in her room. Her case mirrors the thousands of fentanyl and heroin overdoses that led President Trump in October to declare opioid abuse a public health emergency.”
With so many suffering, I have often wondered, recognizing my own chronic health condition and experimentation with various healing modalities, what eco-friendly and sustainably remedies are there for the wider public to respond to the pain they face, both individually and systemically?
Poetry has long been an art form that people have gone to for healing, to soothe the soul, so to speak. What role can art play in responding to, on one level, the pain that people are feeling? Before providing solutions, it is prudent to understand what is happening from the onset as well as providing needed assistance along the way.
Is there still a social malaise that pervades the civilization after all of the promises that were fulfilled by the increased access to information and communication? Is there some new kind of discontentment that is felt underneath the surface that resurfaced 150 years after opioid crises that Lawson talked about? While medicine is one approach, there needs to be a fuller and more dynamic approach to what ailes us--rather than overmedicating us into calamity.
There, imbed in the world, is a interchange of signals. We call it communication. Heidegger in Being and Time said that language is the world in which we dwell. However, more clearly the interchange of signals is a map of the relational energies that shape our world. Communication is an interplay. That playfulness is what we experience as a call and response. How many varied systems of communication flow through the atmosphere? How can a focus on audience help with new ways of understanding communication?
Audience is often understood in an artistic sense. It can also be applied to business. Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, dubbed the ‘Grandfather of Rap,’ remarked that his debut album with the group The Last Poets (1970) “sold over a million copies by word of mouth.”
What people say, to whom, how they say it, how often, has significance and enters the socio-cultural sphere. How something is said implies dialogue, at least two entities. Something is said to someone with someone in mind. That dialogic process is felt and is dynamic. That dialogic process in rap culture is one of foundational tenets, “call and response.” From an African-diasporic perspective, the call and response dynamic is seen in many of the continent’s cultural practices. To dance is to dance for one’s community. To sing is to honor vibrational harmonies of the past. There is always an audience implied. Thus, what does a focus on audience do to assist in deepening understandings of communicative strategies?
Audience conceptually assists with picturing how, in any practice of effective communication, knowing to whom you are talking changes things and impacts messaging. That dynamism is what makes the world work. When audience is seen as something relegated to art specifically, it obscures the impact of audience at all levels of the social structure. Audience is foundational. Opening to how that is manifested throughout the economic and political structure better enables a more just society.
As in business, “eyes-on” is a term used to assess valuation. Advertisers seek opportunities based on viewership. Political ads, for example, have important impact. The messages they send, both verbal and non-verbal, become to and through what voters must wade in making their decisions. Constituents are a form of viewership. Like advertisers, politicians do think about audience and how their responses help to clarify needed political action.
Dorothy Cotton, a champion of voters rights, knew the importance of helping members of the black community voice their concerns. That voicing is the power of audience. That is what politicians seek. Politicians want to see that their constituents support their policies and recognize the work they do for their districts. Voters likewise want to see that their representatives value their concerns and are accessible. If politicians viewed their constituents as a kind of audience, and if voters viewed their politicians as a kind of audience, how would their dialogue change?
Cotton’s work at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to educate community members is a practice in effective communication. [Read more]. It is an opportunity for voters to deepen their understandings of the language the politicians use and to teach politicians what voters want to see. That dance of figuring out ways to talk about and talk through the changes that constituents want to see in their world is enhanced by a notion of audience.
The implications of audience being essential to realizing the change we want to see in the world helps in understanding why Dorothy Cotton was so passionate about combating voter suppression in her workshops to educate African-American citizens. Voter suppression prevents politician from seeing and hearing what they want to know and prevents constituents from knowing whether or not their politicians hear them. Valuing audience is an equitable means of creating opportunities for communication in creating a healthy culture and society.