London #140 Conf Talk by Kyra Gaunt
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London #140 Conf Talk by Kyra Gaunt

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I shared this idea about racism as a resource with Jeff Pulver at a #140 Conf Meetup in NYC in September. He invited me to speak at the State of Now #140 Conference in London. ...

I shared this idea about racism as a resource with Jeff Pulver at a #140 Conf Meetup in NYC in September. He invited me to speak at the State of Now #140 Conference in London.

Other than Twitter, where can you jump head first into a conversation about race without fear of losing your job, not getting a holiday gift this year, or worrying about being ostracized or demoted because you have the wrong skin color to privilege such expression? Twitter offers a new state of now that we rarely experience in person, safely in the workplace, or at home with relatives we disagree with.

There was obviously a narrative with this that if you email me I can send you.

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  • I shared this idea about racism as a resource with Jeff Pulver at a #140 Conf Meetup in NYC in September. Where can you jump head first into a conversation of race without fear of losing your job, not getting a holiday gift this year, or being ostracized or not promoted because you have the wrong skin color to privilege such expression. Twitter offers a new kind of now that we rarely experience in person, safely in the workplace, or at home with relatives we disagree with.
  • Before we talk about racism, I want to talk about the social construction of race using this map. Most ppl around the world would agree that north is UP on a map. But like false interpretations of the curvature of the earth from a human’s point of view, race is not only more complex than skin color, we might be better off thinking of it as a superstition.
  • Whatever we think race IS or ISN’T, it is a POWERFUL way of talking about differences we learned at a very young age. As adults it seems natural and real like a physical object . Said another way, RACE is a sticky conversation like some BRAND for human beings. We’ve been STUCK combatting racism. Stuck ERASING race. Stuck CHANGING racism. Nothing wrong with change. Just the wrong TOOL for an invented conversation like the earth being flat. It takes a lot of endless work to CHANGE something that doesn’t actually EXIST in the physical universe. But a conversation // is another matter.
  • After joining Twitter 10 Jul 2008 I found the perfect avatar for my profile name kyraocity, a portmanteau of kyra of the city. It was this photograph of a black cat by Jon Bertelli and since `I also have a black cat who has her own twitter acct under cat_delilah, it was a perfect fit. Just after the election of our first black president in early Feb, I began numbered series of tweets called k yraocity abt racism #1: [READ TWEET]. STORY RE: JEW IN MORMON COUNTRY AND HOW RACISM IS NOT PERSONAL Since profile name is a portmanteau of kyra of the city thus kyraocity , and since I have a black cat named Delilah who has her own Twitter profile @cat_Delilah, it seemed purrfectly fitting to use this photo by Jon Bertelli. In October I copied an animated avatar of myself from the October 09 issue of Monocle magazine featured in a Nokia ad about TED Fellows. The tweet below is from Ruth Ann Harnisch, one of the sponsors along with Nokia and Kodak.
  • This summer on June 21 the Iranian Election was #1 on Trending Topics and I had already added green to my avatar in solidarity though my Iranian host told me this Twitter Revolution was not all that for Iranians inside Iran but that’s another story. On June 21 st from about 7:30pm to 9:30pm, a trending topic was born under the hashtag #thatsafrican. Mostly Africans in US, some Afr-Ams or domesticated Africans, and many begruntled whites entered the fray. Nice to see MattPlatts and 5am u well as whites enter with some sanity versus the posts that MeModelNot retweeted anonymously. The Trending Topic #thatsafrican was probably the first moment, or one of the first moments that an African experience was broadcast on a popular social medium of the blogosphere and reached above the regular fray to hit the top of Trending Topics. When a minority perspective gets broadcast it is not uncommon for members of the majority to get really uncomfortable. Like the status quo is being upended and what will happen if…God forbid…if the minority starts to dominate the discourse. What happens then is the majority steps in and rights what feels “wrong.” #Thatsafrican was standing firm at the sixth slot for about an hour from 8pm to 9pm and then for about 30 mins it was at #3. The Iranian Elections held the #1 trending topic slot. Then it happened… HuffPo reports poorly on #Thatsafrican trending topic on June 21 at 9pm. About that time it had risen from the ten position to reach #3 on the Trending Topics. Trending Topics began on March 5, 2009 for select profiles. By June when #thatsafrican peaked, trending topics was the latest buzz, but not in this case it wasn’t a hit with many Tweeple. http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/twitter_begins_rolling_out_search_and_trends.php Twitter Begins Rolling Out Search and Trends Written by Lidija Davis / March 5, 2009 3:54 PM / 35 Comments « Prior Post Next Post » twitter_logo_Jan_09.pngTwitter appears to be in the process of rolling out its integrated search feature, with a search box and a trends button appearing on some user profiles today. While the feature is not yet available to all users, our guess is that it's very much on the way - and soon. http://www.afrolicious.net/2009/06/21/telling-our-own-stories-thatsafrican/ http://afromusicology.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/thatsafrican-censored-on-twitter-trending-topics/
  • Before it could reach #2 on the Trending Topics the hashtag was removed. I blogged about it being a form of twensorship on Twitter. For an hour from 8-9 it sat at #6 on Trending Topics and from 9-9:30 it wasfirmly at #3. Then… [READ TWEET] Perhaps the HuffPo’s piece appearing at 9:09pm, which was poorly written and researched, was a catalyst in the twensoring of thatsafrican. Whites in the stream were so uncomfortable with the a conversation that was in no way racist but was definitely racial by certain standards. So who were the separatists? At about 9pm on June 21 2009, Huffington Post’s David Weiner poorly reported on a trending topic under the hashtag #Thatsafrican. Trending Topics began three months earlier around March 5, 2009. [CLICK] http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/twitter_begins_rolling_out_search_and_trends.php Twitter Begins Rolling Out Search and Trends Written by Lidija Davis / March 5, 2009 3:54 PM / 35 Comments « Prior Post Next Post » twitter_logo_Jan_09.pngTwitter appears to be in the process of rolling out its integrated search feature, with a search box and a trends button appearing on some user profiles today. While the feature is not yet available to all users, our guess is that it's very much on the way - and soon.
  • A day later Matt Platts from Oxfordshire had a conversation on Twitter and I would have NEVER met him otherwise limited by time, age, space, distance and race. We chat on Google. We follow each other and Matt recently shared re BNP party leader Nick Griffin’s recent appearance on BBC’s Question Time. Before I conclude I want to propose like Matt that following the conversation to its logical conclusion would require using racism as a resource rather than a something to get stopped by or stuck with in a P.C. conversation. Then on Jun 23 we google chat and he writes: [email_address] 3:15 AM (8:15am UK) matthew.plattsJust following what we were talking about yesterday on Twitter. Racism has reared its ugly head in my country recently, I'm slightly hoping it will spark off a national conversation about race. I don't know if you've followed the news from here? [About 10 days ago Matt sent me a YouTube link to the show Question Time featuring a panel that included BNP party leader Nick [email_address] to me show details Nov 2 (12 days ago) 2:10 PM me: Matthew, you in London? If so, I am coming to London and want to invite you to an informal talk I am giving on racism as a resource. Email me at kyraocity@gmail.com 5 minutes 2:16 PM matthew.platts: I'm near to London I'd be delighted. 2:17 PM I assume you have followed the rise of the British National Party recently? 2:18 PM I recommend you watch the footage of the BNP's appearance on Question Time, with special attention to Bonnie Greer. She seems right up your street and I strongly recommend you invite her as well, I think she'd be a really positive person for you to talk to.
  • Recently I learned re a series on Channel Four called Race Science’s Last Taboo and in visitng their website I found a timeline and noticed a particular date that seemed to intersect with my own biography back in the Washington DC metro area and my great granddaddy Louis W hicks. But even the producers of theshow in behind the scenes commentary say that if people say things against equality in society than “those people should be dismissed” (Ralph Lee) or “scientific nonsense” / ”the BNP was riding on their own and there were no one to expose how ridiculous their views were” (Oona King) http://raceandscience.channel4.com/why-this-season-matters.htm
  • This conversation hit home as a explored a timeline on their website. It featured a reference to the 1904 St Louis World Fair. The first human zoo was a highlight with a Congolese man labeled a pgymy on exhibition. In 1905, he was asked to live at the Bronx Zoo and later put in the exhibit with the Orangatan as “the missing link.” This struck a chord in my memory. My great grandfather had kept a ruby red cedar point souvenir wine glass in a kitchen glass display cabinet. I remember the inscription from 1904 and the world’s fair. Over 20 million people visited the fair. My gg worked for FDR at the white house as a mason pictured here and he traveled extensively with a major general. I wonder what it must have been like if they happened to capture each other’s gaze. Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the Saint Louis World's Fair Louis W. Hicks visited 1904 St. Louis World Fair. Though he was born in 1883, I knew my great-grandfather who worked at the White House and passed away in 1974 when I was 12. The St. Louis World Fair, as the BBC4 website notes, was organized to celebrate American achievements. Ota Benga was exhibited before 20 million visitors, one of whom may have been my great granddaddy, who purchased a ruby red souvenir glass similar to this cedar point creamer, which I vividly recall endlessly gazing at in the glass cabinet of his kitchen. I wonder what it’s history was but only made the link through a curious connection as a TED Fellow last week. I am featured in a 3 min documentary for Nokia’s Responsiveness Campaign and I was invited to do some PR while here. Nokia reps sent the link to the BBC4 series Race: Science’s Last Taboo and when I read about Ota Benga at the St Louis World Fair, I remembered the red glass. I wonder if Louis W Hicks was offended by this “human zoo” or what it was like for Ota Benga, who was labeled the “missing link” in an exhibition at the Bronx Zoo the next year, to witness my great grandfather a mason from the White House, who preferred formal attire and was called “The Professor”. Louis Wood Hicks, 9/30/1883 - 10/13/1974, at the White House. Source: Montgomery County Historical Society, 086-HICKS-001. A mason at the White House in Washington, he worked there until 1943. In one of the photographs, taken during President Franklin Roosevelt's first administration, Mr. Hicks is shown next to a White House flag stand for which he laid the supports. He preferred formal attire and so was called "The Professor." Mr. Hicks died October 13, 1974. http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/libraries/lpark/hicks.asp http://www.onehumanrace.com/docs/ota_benga.asp
  • What’s needed concerning racism, more than positive discrimination or affirmative action, more the diversity training without an accountability, more than a black president or a debate railing against the BNP on the BBC, is the power to see how we all learned racial difference and see how learning that was an essential resource when we were young but no longer serves us well as adults. [IF TIME, SHARE ALABAMA STORY] Official WhiteHouse.gov photo almost 2 weeks ago A student with an "Obama" haircut at Wright Middle School in Madison, Wisconsin, listens to U.S. President Barack Obama speak as he visits the area, November 4, 2009.
  • THE FREEDOM TO BE OFFENDED AND STAY CONNECTED we could be eye to eye with the remarkable oneness of humanity without changing a thing. And that is racism as a resource. I offer workshops esp designed for the multiracial settings in the workplace and in tense communities where ppl learn to undo their own cosntructions of race/racism naturally. I’m speaking in the Netherlands this week sharing a technique that creates the space where bigotry, prejudice and discrimination canreally be considered a superstition of the past like the earth being flat. It’s simple, but like twitter it requires the diverse, real time safe space for really being straight and saying youre taking things personally but staying connected. Use the hashtag #ATBO and share your story about whenyou first learned abt racial difference and see how racism can be a resource. A resource for being courageous and compassionate. Without racism, there wouldn’t have been a MLK, Jr. fighting to overcome discrimination so perhaps it has been a resource for our TRUE courage as human beings to show up. Twitter might be one of the great meeting halls for justice. With only a 140 characters perhaps we are listning more or at least listening to more ppl rather than getting stuck being offended eliminating the few around us. Thankyou. Photo by CHRIS from Hong Kong 9gag.com/gag/2518/ Funny+cat+and+dog/

London #140 Conf Talk by Kyra Gaunt London #140 Conf Talk by Kyra Gaunt Presentation Transcript

  • Racism as a Resource: Twitter as a New Kind of Now #atbo @kyraocity
  • Upside down map for UK
  • @kyraocity
  • My avatar: Kyraocity @kyraocity
  • That’s african led me to meet Matt Platts June 21, 2009 #thatsafrican Trending Topic
  • That’s african Twensored? @kyraocity Twensored?
  • Brooklyn meets Oxfordshire: curious connection
  • Race first used: BBC4
  • Ota Benga & Zoo: Ch. 4 Great Granddaddy at White House Louis W. Hicks (1883 – 1974) owned a similar souvenir from the St. Louis, Missouri World Fair 1904 Ota Benga in Bronx Zoo (c.1881 – 1916) @kyraocity
  • “ Obama” Haircut Nov 4 @kyraocity
  • Safe Space Agree to be Offended #atbo & Get Connected @kyraocity