I first heard about the Shaquanda Cotton case through my former student Frederic Mitchell at his spot. I didn’t post on it myself. Rather, I decided to do an NPR commentary on it (that will probably come out later today). But Temple3, and Prometheus6 both jumped on it (Temple3 from an email I relayed to him, and Prometheus6 from Qusan).
When Witt reported it, he was relatively clueless about the way that blogs work and the existence of black bloggers. No more.
I picked the graph above from technorati. As you can see “Shaquanda Cotton” goes from being pretty much invisible to getting around 80 or so blog hits. Another measure is here. For Witt this is proof of the growing power of black bloggers, the internet as an organizing tool, and an example of the continuing role of newspapers.
Since I’ve been doing this here thing, (and before this the other thing) I’ve thought about what the role of black bloggers should be, to the extent that they identify as black and want to engage in explicit state-centered politics of some sort. Some would say that part of our role is to counter the information that comes from non-black bloggers, specifically on racial issues, but on a variety of issues in general. I don’t have a dog in that hunt. Someone should do it, and I probably do it from time to time.
But I think a more important role is speaking directly to each other and using our connections to further develop the notion of what I call open source politics. Partially as a result of the increased scrutiny engendered by black bloggers, the Cotton case (and the prison she was sent to) is being reviewed. Note that this occurs without Revs. Jackson or Sharpton getting involved (Sharpton is said to be “thinking” about doing it). If this isn’t cell based leadership I’m not sure what is.
Waxing nostalgic, Earl talks about the dissolution of the types of networks that black people used during Jim Crow. But he’s wrong here. The network never went away. I’m not sure how you get from Michigan to Alabama for seven days with barely $30 to my name without people willing to look out. What we need to do is take the networks that we currently have and simply repurpose them a bit.