Grassroots Organizing

Pilisuk and colleagues discuss in their article the post industrial milieu for grassroots organizing and the consequences of these six conditions. Which one of these could be best attributed to the widening achievement gap and what are strategies that can be used to reverse or alleviate these conditions? A possible source for this issue is the media. Pilisuk discusses the monopoly that the media has over the means to project cultural symbols. In reference to the achievement gap, there too many images on television that portray African Americans as either entertainers or criminals and not enough that show African Americans as lawyers, doctors, or any profession that requires an education. Because the major media are parts of transnational corporations, the bottom line/ratings become a determining factor as to what is put out there. Considering that African Americans are only a small part of the viewing audience; therefore it is safe to assume that these images that they are being inundated with are for the entertainment of people other than themselves.

In Speer and Hughey’s article, they discuss the instruments of power. The first is superior bargaining resources that are used to reward and punish various people. The second is the ability to construct barriers to participate or eliminate barriers to participation through setting agendas and defining issues. The third is a force that shapes shared consciousness through myths, ideology, and control of information. The second and third instruments are the most salient in terms of this issue. In order to figure out how to fix a problem, the problem must first be defined. How the problem is approached and fixed is contingent on how the problem is defined. The media highlights the achievement, but serious discussion is lacking from various media outlets, leaving people only the “impartial” numbers to gather conclusions from. This works together the shaping of public consciousness. The media projects the great American dream that anything can be done with hard work and effort and that anyone who does not succeed is lazy and/or deficient. Unfortunately this instrument of power also serves to prevent the collaboration of different groups or even that of people within the same general group. More privileged African Americans may be unwilling to help those that are less privileged because they have been inundated with the same messages of the American dream. This goes in line with a point made in Bettencourt’s article that social identifications can be manipulated by the individuals in power. Such power can too often be the end of grassroots organizations that attempt to change the status quo or improve conditions.

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