Wednesday, April 2, 2008

NAACP Branches: It's time we let our voices be heard

9 months ago, I started the Wichita NAACP Blog. At the time I'd noticed that there was a wealth of information online about the organization, but virtually none of it was written by our members. The information that was available tended to be negative and incendiary and reflected a series of assumptions and misrepresentations of who we are and what we do.
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So in that light, I set out to create a small local forum wherein I could speak directly to the members of my community, so that they would hear our positions - unedited - and without spin or editorial comment. The effort has paid off ten-fold. The blogsite has provided us our own virtual 'media' outlet to break stories and issues that we feel are important, to correct misinformation, and to increase our advocacy and outreach in ways we hadn't even imagined. We now field complaints and requests for assistance from all over the country (which we route back to the local branches) :-) Our site has received nearly 10,000 hits and we have subscribers and visitors from 38 foreign countries. And as our society becomes more technologically advanced, it is clear that we too must adapt in order to grow.
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As I look around the "blogosphere" today, I see that not much has changed where we are concerned. There are a few strong voices who are letting their voices be heard through Branch Blogs, such as President James Bible in Seattle-King County, President Christopher Smitherman in Cincinnati Ohio, President Warren Robinson in Otero County, Jondon Little, and River Rouge-Ecorse. But still the overwhelming majority of voices speaking for and about the NAACP, are non-members - most of whom seem intent on proving that we are all insignificant, ignorant, or just unnecessary.
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We have not yet adapted to this new media, and others have seized upon this vacuum and declared themselves to be the new Authentic voices of advocacy and activism. But I'm a Branch President, as are many of you... I Know how many miles you put on your car... I know what it's like to work a full day-job and still put in 35 to 40 hours a week doing volunteer NAACP work... I know how much you and your family have to sacrifice so that you can be an advocate for people you've never met... I know what it's like to fight against the Police Department and hope there are no repercussions... I know what it feels like to fight against your school board while your children are still in Public School... I know what it's like to make yourself personally available every day and every night whenever folks need you or choose to call... We know the difference between "talking about it" and "being about it". We have inherited our community's legacy of struggle in a real - not rhetorical - sense. But we ARE NOT doing a good job of telling our story...
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I believe that the time has come where we should begin to raise our voices. We should embrace this new media and the emerging technologies and tell our OWN stories in cyberspace. We must stop allowing others intent on diminishing our organization to define us. We must stop allowing others to speak on our behalf. And we must stop allowing other to reinterpret our words and actions to fit them into their predetermined meme that we are irrelevant... We need to stand up on this new battlefield family; we need to let everyone hear us speak our own name.

I would like to suggest that we each become deliberate about setting up individual NAACP Branch Blogs... The process is very simple (takes about 20 minutes) and it's FREE.

Setting up NAACP Branch Blogs will allow us to speak out on our own behalf and introduce issues into the mainstream without filtering or spin. There are 2,200 NAACP Units; if we all build our platforms and link together - we can once again redefine our 'brand'. If you have questions about how to build a blog, you can just send me an email: kevin@wichitanaacp.org and I'll walk you through it...
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So how about we set a goal.. Let's each work with the very conservative goal of having at least 150 NAACP Branch Blogs up and running by the end of this year... With just a few strong leaders and voices such as Marvin "Doc" Cheatham up in Baltimore, Alice Huffman in California, Tammi Davis in Gary, Reverend Barber in North Carolina, Glenda Overstreet in Topeka, Odora Nweze and Sabu Williams in Florida, Anita Russell in Missouri, or virtually any combination of countless others... we could take the blogosphere by storm...
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I would also like to request of the National Board that we find sometime in the agenda at this year's National Convention to discuss blogging and new media technologies. I would be willing to volunteer to help set up and staff the workshop and I have a few contacts that could provide us with valuable information that would strengthen the organization as a whole.
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So how about it Fam ... Are you in?

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