The Parlay Think Tank For Black Millennials & Gen-X’er Influencers Of Color
By Angela Johnson-Rogers
Parlay (Verb) – To increase or transform one thing into something of much greater value
The third installment of Parlay: An Urban Think Tank on Civic Engagement happened on March 23, in Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall. This discussion panel focused on civic engagement and resistance. The panelist consisted of political strategist and founder of the think tank, Kenay T. Parham (@KParham). Journalist Jarrett Hill (@JarrettHill), the writer who broke the Melania Trump plagiarized speech story. Nina Parker (@mzGossipGirl), television host and journalist for (but not limited to) Access Hollywood Live. Shavone Charles (@Shavone), the young girl slaying as Head of Music & Teens at Instagram. Closing the panel out was David Banner (@davidbanner), music artist and black activist.
The discussion, which also streamed live via facebook opened with a simple (yet complex) series of questions targeted at Black America, Parham called them the SWOT entry questions which typically start every Parlay panel.
What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of/to/facing Black America?
In the political climate that we are living in, I think this question has been at the base of most discussion in the black community lately. What are our strengths as it comes to political power, civic engagement, and resisting the current government? The conscience on the panel was, us. Black Americans have shaped how our nation views human rights/laws, and treat marginalized groups. Through protesting and holding the government accountable Black Americans have set the blueprint for civic engagement. It is through these models of civic engagement, protesting, and mobilizing that many see as the strength of Black Americans.
Parker tackled the question by saying, “we have this ability to know when something doesn’t feel right… when something doesn’t feel right, or something doesn’t look right… if something doesn’t feel authentic… The weakness sometimes is that we are not sure what to do about it.”
What do we do then? How do we continue to be civically and politically engaged when we don’t feel like we have the avenue or platform to make a difference? How do we resist government shifts that harm our well being? Charles replied, “resistance comes in different forms and shapes, resistance for me is standing in my truth everyday, showing up to work with people who look nothing like me and being myself. Its speaking out, its walking around with a purpose… It’s taking responsibility for your community. Part of the resistance for young people now is the internet.”
The theme of social media and the internet was a common thread during the panel discussion. May people see social media as a platform for the voiceless. The pivotal shifting point from mainstream media to social media was Ferguson. The protest in Ferguson caught the nation’s attention after multiple stories were shared and reposted via social media. This was the first time young adults felt in control of the narrative and took the opportunity to showcase the injustices taking place. Protestors were being interviewed via facebook, and stories were being reported, analyzed, and shared widely via twitter. This media coverage was unlike anything we had seen before in the black community because it was an instantaneous way to get the story heard way before mainstream media stations picked it up.
Parker, Charles, and Hill, advocated for to using digital platforms to create community, stay engaged, and abreast of political/cultural trends. Banner ended the discussions by warning us not to, “let someone else define what your place in the movement, you find what’s best for you…” The resounding takeaways were: you do not need to be Malcolm X or Martin Luther King J.r. to be woke. You do not have to have a million followers to start a movement. You define how your resistance to this government may look. The most important part is that you are engaging in the civic/political discussions and always walking in your truth.