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The New Media Revolution Within a Queer-Subculture: Martin Luther King and Visibility Through Video

In 1994, (when I was four years old) I remember the day that I moved in with my grandmother. The geographical context of my situation was found on the south side of Chicago in Marquette Park (67th Street), where my grandmother had owned a home for a couple of decades. 28 Years before this day in 1994, Martin Luther King Jr. was marching down the very same street. More than 700 people marched with Dr. King on this particular day. However, as we approach MLK commemoration day and I reflect on various parts of the civil rights movement, I am led to think of one of the defining moments. We’ve all heard about the fire hoses and dogs being released on the marchers.  It was the power of video that led to outrage of many watching from the comfort of their home. It was also the power of these videos that made the hatred within the civil rights movement so visible—and helped to mobilize more people to action.

In the discourse of new media and the queer community, above all, I believe in power of ‘video’. It has and will continue to transform the way people are marginalized, by capturing the perpetrators inside of an eternal documentation of truth. Video recordings bring truth and accountability to all those who wish to publically oppress and face no consequences. We see the remnants of this in places like Egypt, Syria and Tunisia. The power of new media, particularly video, changes the dynamic of power in society. Think if everyone in the civil rights movement would of had camera phones. Just imagine if there was literally an army of videographers able and willing to record what most of the time became invisible acts of racism in America. How much would this change the face of activism?

Video conjures up visibility. When things become visible they become real and stories that were once left caged in the imagination are infused into a progressive reality. Video does more than create accountability for the privileged subjugator, it allows for us to tell narratives that have been suppressed, ignored and pushed into the silhouettes of invisible faces that society would prefer not to make eye contact with.

Dane Joseph, a graduate of Columbia University is a part of a project titled “Fade In.” This is an absolutely genius work that highlights the story of queer people of color. In the short episode posted above, Dane highlights two queer people of color that elucidates both the diversity and complexity of queer youth of color.

Tonight I met Geoffrey Canada and heard him speak about the future of youth and education. Ultimately his message was one that relates not only to communities of color, but also to those who face secondary marginalization. “They don’t have the answers…so we have to try something different,” He stated.

I think we must take that effective activism we have learned from King Jr. and combine it with Canada’s claim to pro-activity and use what we learn from New Media to actually try something new. It might spark the next social movement.