Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks

All I could think of today was Cedric's rant as Eddie in Barbershop: "Rosa Parks didn't do nuthin' but sit her black ass down on the bus." That along with "we got affirmative action and welfare -- now if that ain't resperations I don't know what is" are the funniest lines in that movie.

I also posted on several blogs that what Rosa Parks did was not a spontaneous act, but was well planned by the local civil rights leadership in which she was very active. She trained at the Highlander School and her action was deliberate, as was the organized boycott following it. This in no way diminishes her courage but it does point out that organized strategic action is more effective.

Perpetuating the myth that the spontaneous action of one individual sparked a movement actually damages efforts toward social change. Read this for more. (Thanks Ruby.)

When media reduces a story of committed, long-term leadership to a 30-second celebrity moment, more harm than good is done, says Loeb. This reportorial reductionism suggests to the public that social activists "come out of nowhere to suddenly take dramatic stands." Indeed, the overly-condensed, freeze-dried version discounts those people who spend years toiling for a cause without fame.


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