While watching Michelle Alexander preach on injustices in our criminal justice system while simultaneously preaching about compassion and forgiveness, I couldn’t help but think about the format of TED Talks. She mentions Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. among other advocates, and I began to wonder what it would look like if Martin Luther King Jr. had done a TED Talk and if his words would become more or less powerful. Primarily, it feels amazing because it is a platform that can reach virtually anyone, yet because there are so many videos out there on the internet it almost seems to belittle the most beautiful moments of the talk — putting Alexander behind a screen. It got me curious how we create momentum in movements like this one through the internet, and how important face to face interactions are in the process of earning people’s interest and hearts.

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2 responses »

  1. hannahginsberg says:

    In fall 2014 I was apart of the course Hip Hop and Incarceration at Pitzer taught by Anthony Francoso. In this class we used Michelle Alexander’s novel, “The New Jim Crow” as a framework for much of our class discussions as well as a method of looking at the prison industrial complex. Part of the course was going inside Norco state prison and having class with some of the men there. While being inside the prison I was able to see how true Michelle Alexander’s words are. Much of why I am taking this course is because I was to continue to work with neglected communities as well as try to illustrate and teach other people about the way the United States prison system truly functions. I think its amazing that Ted included Michelle Alexander in their talks because due to their popularity I think what she discusses can reach more people who perhaps might have not previously thought much of mass incarceration.

  2. doriebailey says:

    I totally agree with you Molly! It’s amazing to think how much was accomplished by such influential figures as MLK Jr. and Rosa Parks without the help of the technological advancements made since the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. Especially as of late, it seems that some social movement or another is constantly trending on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram. Especially when the young people involved with activism are concerned, the intelligent and nuanced usage of these social media sites to promote and educate others on causes and injustices on both a local and global scale is truly impressive. But, as you mention, what is lost by prioritizing these virtual collaborations over face-to-face activism? I would be very curious to see how the powerful historical figures (like those mentioned previously) would have reacted to/utilized these platforms of communication, especially considering the much wider reach they have in comparison to the rather limited span of early televised broadcasts and print media used for these causes half a century ago.

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