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Dismantling the Narrative

Police confront a protester in St Louis

With all that’s going on this week, I’m setting aside my Thursday review of WDSF.  Between #Ferguson and #OCaptainMyCaptain, any tweets promoting writing or reading seemed trivial or desperate.  If I reviewed anything right now, it would get an ugly picking at.  

Boy, was it a crappy time for me to get into twitter.  

I feel this sickness spreading through my guts–and can only imagine how it must feel for those who are there, experiencing it firsthand.

Here’s where I have to dig out some compost from the waste.  While much has been demoralizing, it’s been an extraordinary week to start following twitter.  

On the Robin Williams front, many beautiful tributes and memories were shared.  Amanda Palmer hosted a tribute to the comedian in the form of pics from followers standing on their desks (a la Dead Poet’s Society).  Yeah, I went there too…

P1070946

On the Ferguson front, no other medium reported what has been going on with the immediacy of twitter.  We not only saw blow-by-blow updates, videos, pics, real reporting, we also saw tweeters  hammer at the framing MSM imposed upon the events.  Everything from #whatpicturewouldtheyuse (if arrested: the “thug” shots vs. the scholar pics) to the use of language (“outraged mob” vs. “rightfully upset community”, “riot” vs. “vigil”) to the images getting the most play (the protestor throwing a tear gas can back at the police being called a molotov cocktail or the intense focus on the few looted stores), and the stories getting ignored (like the nightly volunteer clean-up crew).  Folks like @AntonioFrench and @WesleyLowery provided some of the best coverage out there–at personal risk to themselves, not from any “rioters” but from a hyper-militarized police force that referred to protestors as animals.    

I’d like to go back to framing.  What is wrong with MSM? Do they do it for money? To make it more palpable? Those two possibilities are the same thing really: MSM needs to make events like Ferguson fit the narrative their audiences will accept.  At the same time, though, I wonder how much of it is to make it fit the internal narrative (aka: cognitive dissonance) of the reporters?

What to do with all of this?  There is the reality that brown bodies are being viewed as disposable. It is part of widespread disenfranchisement and a severe abuse of power.  The power structure as it is needs masses of poor to support it.  So what do we do about it?  Continued tweeting and blogging, speaking truth to power, is just a beginning. As has been thrown around social media quite a bit: the system is not broken, it’s operating exactly as it is intended to.  So what do we do to create a new system?  

My only tools have been writing, and that has mostly been limited to fiction, and it’s why I love spec-fic so much: it’s a venue that allows us to explore new systems and new modes of being. It allows for a re-write of the dominant narrative and looks at a plurality of possibilities.  It’s not much and it doesn’t put me in any real danger.

The heroes of this narrative are all those who live in Ferguson and who went to Ferguson, all who put their bodies on the line for justice–and those whose bodies are always on that damn line because of the color of their skin.   

 

 

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2 comments on “Dismantling the Narrative

  1. I only heard about Ferguson last night – hasn’t exactly had a lot of news coverage here in Australia and I’m not on Twitter much. Needless to say I’m shocked. As you say, the system is working as intended, and that is the truly scary part.

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  2. Exploring the way various interests are framing the event would be a fascinating exercise were it not so dehumanizing and destructive.

    Like

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