You are on page 1of 2

 

OneWebDay Comments,
September 22, 2009

Hello, and thank you for including me today.

My name is amalia deloney and I am the Coordinator for the Media Action Grassroots
Network. The Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) is an advocacy network of
more than 100 grassroots social justice, media, and cultural organizations. Together, we
are developing advocacy strategies to improve media conditions for communities of
color and poor people with universal broadband and digital justice among our goals.

BOLD IDEA:
WE believe that we need to transform the social infrastructure of our
communities to match the increasingly digitized and technologically mediated
environment we live in.

This is no small idea, and we realize it.


• It means a massive overhaul of school curriculum—with a strong emphasis on
digital and media literacy
• It means we need community-based technology centers with the goal of full
employment and access to services in EVERY community
• It means we need to transform journalism—with a specific look towards new
models that engage communities in real ways
• And it involves re-imagining the relationship between digital technologies and
surveillance—acknowledging that our communities have very real
communication needs and are often in situations where it’s unsafe to share

We know we are at a place in our society where we are undergoing a massive global
communications restructuring. This requires a new framework for understanding
Communication Rights and Media. Digital Justice includes a new understanding of
“rights, access, and power.” And as history has taught us, a transformation of power
requires deep change! Using a communication rights platform, coupled with grassroots
organizing, is a vital part of this process.

To understand our relationship to this digital environment, MAG-Net and our allies use a
framework we call “A Healthy Digital Ecology.” By this we mean that we are working to
build a digital ecosystem that is community-based, people-centered, and supportive of
political, economic, cultural and technological justice. At the same time, it encourages
us to explore and take into account how people interact with, are shaped by, and shape
the mechanisms through which we produce, share, receive, archive, and access
information. And though speed and price are important, our communities know that the
Internet and other forms of digital communication have always been about more than a
fast and affordable connection.

 
 

While the Pew Research Center reports that 63% of U.S. adults have broadband in their
homes—the 37% who remain “disconnected” are disproportionately rural, people of
color, poor people, migrants and refugees, and speakers of languages other than
English. Raising the level of digital inclusion by increasing the number of people using
the technology must remain an important national goal—but we cannot simply bring our
communities into a system, which will exacerbate deep and pre-existing disparities. We
need access--but, in keeping with our standards of justice, we also need a new
infrastructure that provides our communities with:
• Full employment
• Safe and affordable housing
• Quality education, and
• Content that is relevant and useful to our lives and life plans

Communication is a fundamental human right! Good, comprehensive digital policy can


connect rural and urban concerns and connect communities politically, technologically,
and culturally. This is especially true given the involuntary migration of poor
communities brought about by economic globalization and free trade. While 56% of
Latinos in the U.S. use the Internet, only 1-in-3 Spanish speakers go online. Separated
from their homelands and often working long hours in multiple jobs —Latinos need fast
and affordable ways to communicate with their families and communities. Yet it’s not
just about access. It’s also about finding a computer, knowing how to use email, feeling
confident in your reading and writing skills and knowing how to upload or download
content, all within the context of knowing that this connection might be the only
connection you have to your home, for a very long time—and maybe forever. This
“internet” experience is now more than just a “neutral online experience in the digital
age,” it has become your lifeline. As I mentioned before: political, cultural and
technological connections matter.

In closing, what is true for rural Latinos is also true for the more than 2 million people
moving between communities, jails and prisons. It is also true for poor whites
throughout the south and urban Blacks and Latinos forced to migrate by corporate land
grabs and displacement. The vast majority of people not connected to the Internet have
similar experiences of marginalization. However we can, with bold ideas, innovation,
and real access and equity- also have a shared experience of justice.

Thank you.