As I step back and look at the purposes and issues at Cobb, I think one thing I should talk about is what I see as a shift from an external culture war (from the 80s) to an internal culture war. There are a number of fronts and a number of players and some of these battles are playing out in the blogosphere.
Political Battle: DuBois vs Washington vs Jes Grew
I see there being three points of a triangle for black politics. Among the primary and popular blogs are the Left Liberal, Right Conservative, and Centrist Progressive camps. Our respective loci are, from what I can see:
- Blackprof for the Left Liberal Classic Talented Tenth DuBoisian perspective
- Prometheus 6 for the Centrist Progressive Organic Jes Grew perspective
- Booker Rising for the Moderate to Right Washingtonian perspective
These three websites are each very popular and sustain the most lively and informed debates you are likely to find.
Publicity Battle: MSM vs The Emerging Black Media
One of the things that I've noticed over the years in combatting stereotypes and other shallow thinking about Black America is that the mainstream media's ability to underscore falsehoods and inaccuracies about who blackfolks are is greater than blackfolks own ability to represent themselves accurately. This is slowly changing. The truth is getting out.
While it is my premise that black culture is transparent, it doesn't mean that everybody has a sophisticated understanding, and that is what's required to contextualize the conflicts over black representation. The 'positive images' battles still rage. I must say, however, that I am dumbfounded by the flop this year of the film Black Snake Moan. How that never managed to raise any discussions of race is perplexing to me.
The black blogosphere is beginning to have a higher profile, and while notable black bloggers have been slogging it out in the trenches for years, new ones on the scene are filling out the profile nicely. This set of writers now has the critical mass to give every issue on the radar a thorough analysis and commentary. In that regard, faster than traditional columnists and deeper than black radio, we're moving forward while pop culture seems to be moving backwards.
The more I talk to people, the more I hear them sing the praises of 'Good Times', the old TV series as a good example of ordinary blackfolks. Today, writers in Hollywood cannot do that well.
So it's the deep variety of us vs the shallow simplicity of them.
Class Battle: Cosby vs Dyson
The controversy between Bill Cosby and Michael Eric Dyson represents a fairly deep fracture within African America because it has so many implications. I'd like to reduce it to class, but it's political as well. However since I think one's way of living has political implications, I'm going to be so bold as to suggest that, at least within black America, the class dog wags the tail of politics.
Cosby defends the collegiate preppy side of black America and Dyson has a problem with the locus of black agency outside of the working class. To suggest that the collegiate side should lead the working class side is anathema to Dyson. Dyson, a fast-talking leftist college professor, would like to represent the underclass as well. I reckon he'll do. Both gentlemen assume that a greater amount of unity would serve the duBoisian purposes of race raising, and I'd fault them both on that score but their commentary is no less vital. This battle is far from over.
Cultural Battle: Hiphop vs Itself
Some would characterize this as true hiphop vs commercial hiphop. Fair enough. The battle rages on.
Community Battle: Cops vs Crooks
I don't have to tell you that blackfolks don't trust cops. But blackfolks don't trust black cops either. I think black cops are tolerated, and I think black crooks are tolerated. When ten crimes go down people get fed up. When one cop messes up, people get fed up and show up at protests. The protests get noticed, and by and large black communities are not appreciably safer today than they were 20 years ago. How can 20 years of policing a community produce no results? What we have here is a failure to communicate, and for a clear majority to choose law & order. I am tempted to blame the Coalition of the Damned and write off many black communities as part of Sherwood Forest. I am at a loss to explain this dynamic. It's not a particular focus of mine.