Archive for March, 2011

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Sixties’ media philosopher Marshall McLuhan discusses how all media are extensions of some human faculty – psychic or physical. This means the will is an extension of the foot, or a book is the extension of the eye. The evidence McLuhan puts forward to prove his argument is very convincing, and is all logically sound. For example, “The phonetic alphabet forced the magical world of the ear to yield to the neutral world of the eye”.

He also discusses how man has gone from villages to individualistic beings due to the technology of the printed word— and because we read books privately, this causes us to become more privately oriented. However, with the invention of the television and the Internet though, we have a constant flow of shared information moving around us, causing people to become more social. So in a sense, we have moved from a village into an individualistic society, back to a village, but on a global scale due to the constant sharing of information.
McLuhan predicted the coming of a Global Village in which telecommunications technology would figuratively shrink the world. He argued that the environment we create is our medium for describing our role in it. In fact, we have moved from a village mentality to an individualistic mentality and are now moving back to the village mentality. These transformations are due to our technology and the way it affects us intimately. He is right, in part, because satellites, the Internet, multinational communications giants, televisions and computers have helped realize his prophecy.
Questions to ponder:
Elitism – At one time, as American music, TV, film, sports, fashion, and food spread worldwide often competing with the local fare. At some point, we were guilty of cultural imperialism. Is this still the case?  Who are the big players and what kind of village have they created today?
Social Media – The media of our time changes our patterns of social interaction and our personal life. What does that mean for today’s digital culture in which cell phones, computers, etc. make it possible to community 24/7. Have we become more or less individualistic? Referring back to Englehart’s bootstrapping principles, have today’s popular media made it easier to collaborate with our peers.
The Black Wall Street Records logo, C-Le Logo

The Black Wall Street Records logo, C-Le Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Waco’s Church Swap group went on a Civil Right’s Tour this past weekend, which featured visits to Memphis, Tenn.; Little Rock, Ark. and Tulsa, Okla. I joined the group in Oklahoma. We visited The Department of Special Collections and University Archives of the McFarlin Library at The University of Tulsa. It was there that I learned for the first time of the Tulsa Riots.

The event seems almost impossible to believe. During the course of18 hours, more than 1,000 homes in “Black Wall Street” were burned to the ground. Practically overnight, entire neighborhoods were suddenly reduced to ashes. In less than 24 hours, nearly all of Tulsa’s African American residential district — some 40-square- blocks in all — had been laid to waste, leaving nearly nine-thousand people homeless. The area featured two theatres, several grocery stores, hotels, skating rinks, schools, churches, etc.

The riots began after black men, who were WWI vets, tried to protect a 19-year-old black man accused of “bothering” a white women. This is one account of how the event unfolded: Sometime around or after 4 p.m. Dick Rowland, a black shoeshiner employed at a Main Street shine parlor, entered the elevator at the rear of the nearby Drexel Building at 319 South Main Street en route to the ‘colored’ washroom on the top floor. Upon entering the elevator, he encountered Sarah Page, the 17-year old white elevator operator who was on duty at the time. A clerk at Renberg’s, a clothing store located on the first floor of the Drexel, heard what sounded like a woman’s scream and observed a young black man hurriedly leaving the building. Upon rushing to the elevator, the clerk found Page in what he perceived to be a distraught state. The clerk reached the conclusion that the young woman had been assualted and subsequently summoned the authorities. She later admitted he was innocent.

Many of the members of the Church Swap group became emotional as they learned of the lost potential of the thriving black settlement, which was called “Black Wall Street” because of the many successful African-Americans who lived there, including attorneys, teachers and the a top surgeon.

Tulsa African-Americans received a formal apology for the riots a few years ago. They were also promised reparations. However, they have not collected them. The city also funded scholarships and a multi-purpose center in the area.