Sustainable Movements

In the final chapter of By Any Media Necessary, “It’s Called Giving a Shit: What Counts as ‘Politics?’”, Henry Jenkins and Sangita Shresthova tie together all of the articles from the previous chapters while adding some final thoughts to the discussion.  They effectively discuss some of the overarching themes throughout the book, including intersections between different movements and criticisms, as well as some of the commonalities and differences between the movements that are included.

One of the ideas that they bring up is that of the contrast between the development of older social movements and that of newer ones, like the ones that are brought up in the book. They say that even though the older movements took much longer to develop, that they “came with shared identities and agendas” whereas newer movements were developed more quickly but “struggle with issues of coherence and sustainability” (263).

They recount an attempted movement to “call out… Chick-fil-A for its owner’s support of homophobic organizations” that one of its organizers thought would be easy for supporters to participate in. Because of a lack of “coordinated effort” on their side, the message got into the hands of enemies who “distorted [their] message and reframed the story” (263).

This makes me think about (again) the Women’s March and the backlash that it received. There were so many voices and concerns that went unheard and much of the criticism was that it was a march put together by white women for white women. It’s true: it was not as cohesive as it could have been, but I would argue that many women are now working to be more inclusive in future movements.

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Dreamers

Chapter Three of By Any Media Necessary focuses on some issues that have gotten a lot of attention since the election of our newest president: immigration and citizenship. “DREAMing Citizenship: Undocumented Youth, Coming Out, and Pathways to Participation” by Liana Gamber-Thompson and Arely M. Zimmerman specifically focus on the experiences of undocumented youth and some of the ways that they’ve gone about advocating for themselves, like posting “coming out” videos and staging walk-outs during school. Here are some of my thoughts about the movement.

 And here’s an article about the recent DREAMer deportation that I refer to.

 

Kony 2012

I distinctly remember sitting at the computer desk in my house in early March of 2012 watching a 30-minute video that I had seen being talked about all over Twitter.

At first I thought it was kind of overrated and I didn’t really want to spend a half hour watching a YouTube video (30 minutes!!! Way too long for my 16 year old attention span), but after my best friend, who was and still is much more critical than I am, tweeted about Kony 2012, I decided to bite the bullet and just watch it. I Tweeted about it too, referring to it as “the most inspiring half hour of my life.”

kony tweeet

Photo by: Sara Nicotra

I remember there being some backlash against the circulation of the video from people my own age that I followed on Twitter.  People were saying things like, “Why did you not care about this before?” and, “What can we even do about stopping what’s going on in Uganda?” As Sangita Shresthova points out in the second chapter of By Any Media Necessary, “‘Watch 30 Minute Video on Internet, Become Social Activist’?: Kony 2012, Invisible Children, and the Paradoxes of Participatory Politics,” my peers were not the only critics of the video.

Shresthova quotes TMS Ruge, an activist from Uganda. He called the video “another travesty in shepherd’s clothing befalling [his] country and [his] continent” and said that it was “so devoid of nuance, utility and respect for agency that is so appallingly hard to contextualize” (66).

I know I said that the 30 minute video was a little much for my 16 year old attention span, but the fact that it’s only 30 minutes does a disservice to the issue at hand. There had to have been so many complexities of the situation that weren’t covered, including the effects of colonialism. This detailed and complicated issue that had been going on for years had been reduced to a 30 minute video, and it’s evident that TMS Ruge recognized that.

 

Young Citizens

The next book we’ve been assigned to read is By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism, which is, like Media and Social Justice, is a collection of articles written by a number of different people. It was published in 2016 and highlights several of the most recent political and social movements for justice, such as Occupy Wall Street, the protests that came in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown, and Black Lives Matter.

Just like when I was reading Necessary Trouble, which was also published in 2016, it’s really interesting to read about events and movements and protests that have happened in my very recent memory. Not only do I have a bit of background knowledge about these events, but it’s cool to get yet another perspective on them that’s different than my own. And I always end up learning more about them, too.

As implied by its full title, By Any Means Necessary is focused on young people’s involvement in activism. The first chapter, “Youth Voice, Media, and Political Engagement: Introducing the Core Concepts,” Henry Jenkins makes it a point to define “youth” as “people in their teens or twenties” who are not only in “a stage of physiological or psychological development, but also a stage in the process of acquiring the skills necessary for political participation at an age where there is less than complete access to the rights of citizenship” (7).

I think it’s interesting that he brings up running for office as a “right of citizenship.” When I think of political citizenship, I think of voting, which I just did for the first time in this past election, not running for office. Maybe it’s because I don’t have any interest in running for any kind of political office, but the thought has literally never crossed my mind. I do, however, think it’s a great way to infiltrate the system.

A kid that I had graduated high school with was recently elected as a councilman of the borough that he lives in, so clearly, running for office is a thought that has crossed other young people’s minds, and I think that’s awesome.

After reading what Jenkins had to say, it dawned on me that someone who is currently my age will be the President of the United States. We will be the ones holding all of the political positions in the future and honestly, that gives me hope.