[Air-L] MLK Day reflection

Mark Marino markcmarino at gmail.com
Thu Jan 24 21:45:02 PST 2008

Quick update:

Recently, Wesch published a post addressing the video I made.  See this

After commenting briefly on my video (which he embeds in the post), Wesch
posts images from a scene that he had to cut from the video.  First he sets
up the scene:

several students had ideas emerge right on the spot [of the video
> recording]. Whenever they had an idea they would write it down on a piece of
> paper and hold it up for the camera. While we were reflecting on the size of
> the room and the anonymity this creates among students, one student held up
> the following sign:

A white (looking) woman holds up a sign that reads, "I am more than just a

This shot is followed by an African American (looking) woman holding a sign
that reads, "There is more to me than just MY RACE!"

Wesch explains that this scene

>  "did not make the final cut - not because it wasn't worth showing - but
> because it was so important that it overshadowed some of the other issues we
> were trying to raise."

He also adds,

> It was a powerful moment, and the sign itself defies any simple reading.

I agree that it is a powerful moment, although I have conflicting feelings
about this YouTube deleted scene.  Here is the evidence that at least one of
the students was thinking in terms of racial issues (or a critique of racial
readings).  However, when this critique is raised (literally and
figuratively) by one, if not the only one, of the African-American students
in the video seems to underscore some of my initial concerns.   Somehow I
feel that this scene overshadows the video even in its exclusion.

Perhaps I am falling into a trap that Wesch was trying to avoid altogether
by drawing too much attention to this aspect of the video.  Perhaps, on the
other hand, the video has a racial component that can't be deleted.


On Jan 20, 2008 2:06 PM, Mark Marino <markcmarino at gmail.com> wrote:

> Deen,
> Thank you for this thoughtful reply.
> I just want to speak to a few of the issues you raise with the hopes of
> picking up more of them later.
> Check out this document for the source of some of the video:
> http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dfnq2hd6_26cs5w6j
> If there was an "imaginary," "exemplary," or "quintessential" Web 2.0
> > >
> > student, an Everystudent of the future, what race/gender/sexual
> > orientation would he/she be? I'd be surprised if no one out there has
> > researched what online discussants tend to assume about their invisible
> > interlocutors' real-life demographic characteristics.
> >
> Precisely.  Screen names obscure some identity characeristics.  Profile
> pictures offer a little more information.  But my guess would be similar to
> yours, that there is an latent segregation occurring and a tendency to
> imagine the community to be either similar to yourself or similar to the
> cultural majority.
> We may well
> > imagine that most of the newsgroups/forums/comment areas we frequent
> > look a lot like Wesch's classroom, at least ethnically speaking. In that
> > scenario, inconvenient disparities in privilege and opportunity could be
> > assumed away to ease the pursuit of less dissonant discussion topics.
> >
> And possibly sometimes that leads to people networking and communicating
> in ways (and with others) that they wouldn't in person.  But judging from
> your comments below, you are also suggesting that that omission may be to
> the detriment of the community itself as de/illusion of homogeneity leads to
> unwelcoming comments.
> I too would be interested in relevant research in this area. As a member
> > of a racial minority myself, I feel that some new media outlets make me
> > less likely to speak my mind online by bracketing ethnicity and
> > disinhibiting conversation. The instances of casual racism I've
> > encountered in several open forums I have observed closely but
> > informally ( e.g . political blog comments, newspaper comments, Youtube)
> > effectively foreclose any substantive contribution I may have been
> > interested in making. Not to jump too far off the deep end of casual
> > social theorizing here, but perhaps this is an inevitable consequence of
> >
> > our society's failure to provide sufficient offline avenues for honest
> > dialogue on race/SES/sexual orientation.
> >
> I would love to see some more writing about these issues, even
> ethnographic or first-person accounts of the ways these communities put up
> their cultural gates, if you will.  It might help online communities start
> to think about ways to open themselves up.  I think there is also an aspect
> of intimidation involved and that technological knowledge is one of the
> tools (though not in the case you relate about yourself).
> Getting back to the original
> > question, in examining whatever social benefits new media are supposed
> > to provide, we should always slow down to ask ourselves: who's speaking
> > and who's lurking? Whose views are represented and whose aren't? What
> > can we do to make representation more equitable, more inviting, and more
> > tolerant?
> >
> Absolutely, as we should with any discussion, academic or otherwise.
> I wonder if some technologies make this a bit more apparent. Have you seen
> the  recent readers pictures on some blogs?  Under the category: Look who
> else is reading this blog?  But of course, when we such such information,
> instead of trying to network with our fellow blog-readers (adding them to
> our Facebook pages), we might ask who's not represented.
> Thank you, Deen,
> Mark

Writing Program
University of Southern California

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