Review by Joel Patterson
Juan Gonzalez, co-host of the daily “rebel, dissenting arm of the press” news broadcast “Democracy Now” spoke Friday night at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, and the place was packed. It’s an old church converted into a video camera-equipped meeting hall/concert stage/art gallery, and his appearance was part of their ongoing efforts to present alternative perspectives from established colorful and articulate rabble rousers. There were maybe 300 people or so in attendance. The scruffy crew was video taping his remarks, so I’m sure he’s entered into their archive. The crowd was a mix of aging hippies (some even older than me!) and young people of various hues.
He spoke a little about his background and then summarized his latest book, “News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media,” which is all about the successive waves of information distribution media over the course of the last 200 years (starting with the first Colonial newspapers and ending with today’s Internet), and how in each case centralization has led to homogenization and top-down distortions that reinforce a “white man’s narrative.”
He’s a remarkably good natured and good humored man, considering the bleak perspective he’s got to offer: there will be an eternal struggle with the forces of repression that minimize or negate the perspectives and contributions of those outside of the power structure.
He also took questions from the audience, ending with this keen observation: if the current population of illegal immigrants are ever granted citizenship and voting rights, the demographic of electorates to come will be dramatically shifted towards a Latino orientation. This is perhaps inevitable in the long run, anyway– because of the aging American population, the urgent need for young workers will continue to draw immigrants from nearby nations, and by 2050, if current trends continue, half the American public will trace their origins “not from Europe, but from the Latin American countries.”
I bought the book, and our mini conversation went something like this:
“And what is your name?”
“Joel Patterson.” I set down my card in front of him, which made it easy for him to spell out his dedication. “My son’s girlfriend is Amy Littlefield, she’s an intern producer who started working for you a few months ago.”
His face brightened. “Ah yes, you know, the pool of young people we’ve got working there are fantastic.”
And I confided to him, “The day you find your son’s hooked up with a wonderful woman – that’s a good day.”
He smiled broadly, we shook hands, and each of us walked off into history.