Someone help me - which cartoon did two characters take the ‘Wayback Machine’ (WABAC as they called it) used to go back in time and get involved with a historical event back in the day? The characters would either learn something from their adventure or we who are watching, the audience, would get something out the adventure too. Courtesy of another Wayback Machine
, I had the fortune of looking at various websites from the late 1990’s and needless to say, the rantings haven’t changed much.
For example, I read message board posts from Black Voices
(before the AOL
- Huffington Post
takeovers) and the conversations ranged in the following:The top five postings from their Rant page copied and pasted from the actual archives)
IT'S THE YEAR 2020 BLACK HAVE CREATED THEIR OWN COUNTRY IN THE SOUTHERN U.S.A. WOULD YOU GO OR STAY??? (11/28/99) 338 comments
I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THINGS YOU BE HATTIN? (11/28/99) 885 comments
HAS CHRISTAINITY HELPED OR HENDERED BLACK PEOPLE'S EFFORTS OF TRUE LIBERATION? (11/28/99) 496 commentsHere’s from their ‘Talk of The Day’ page:
A Question for (ALL) Blackmen in America (11/27/99) 693 comments
Must Black Pride be based on Lies and Oppression? (11/28/99) 511 comments
Young & Restless Fans...lets talk. (11/28/99) 861 comments
When Did It Become Acceptable for the Black Man Turn His Back on His Children (11/28/99)
389 commentsMy honorable mention of selected posts - take a look at the number of responses)
There is a Black man running for president. (11/28/99) 21 comments
PRESIDENT CLINTON....... WHAT DID HE DO FOR BLACK PEOPLE? (11/28/99)
WHEN DID IT BECOME FASHIONABLE TO DISRESPECT SISTAS BY USING VULGAR SLANG WORDS? (11/26/99) 25 comments
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ENRICH/BUILD THE COMMUMITY? (11/27/99) 19 comments
And a popular topic that has picked up steam on social media in recent years, not so fourteen years ago:
SUSPENSION OF THE CONSTITUTION!!! ROUNDING UP YOUR BLACK AZZ AND OTHER POLITICAL DISSENDENTS IS LEGAL !!!! (11/28/99) 9 comments(Note: please keep in mind these posts are from the old Black Voices page circa 1999. Other sites might have more engaged conversations with similar themes. Plus, I know I'm going to get some flack on the misspelled words from the copied titles. The only thing I changed was adding 'comments' after the numbers to help readers on how much reaction the posts received. Can't help it if the originators of the posts didn't have spell check back then, smile.)
Do you notice anything familiar? If you take out the fact we have a President who looks just like us, the discussions and topics haven’t changed from 1997-2000. We still have the issues of incarceration, problem with families, sexual orientation, sports figures, entertainment and yes, even books. While the Wayback Machine limited a deeper examination on what folks were actually saying, it has become quite clear the needle has not moved in at least sixteen years.
Again, this is if you leave out the fact we have a Black President.
So what happened during this time? A lot. Something the philosophers and ‘freedom fighters’ of today’s social media doesn’t quite grasp. We can write posts about injustice a thousand times, have passionate debate on timelines and feeds (back in those days, message boards), complain about government, have righteous indignation over the way we’re treated in the media, etc. When we’ve run out of metaphorical ‘breath’, all we’ve done is huffed and puffed, but like the Big Bad Wolf in the Three Little Pigs, that brick wall of society is not coming down.
When I read the comments of these topics and the columns written by esteemed activists on these older websites, it amazes me that Activiz4U (not a real screen name, smile) has said the same thing someone on Facebook mentioned years ago. For good or for ill, President Obama’s presence just gives us a chance to regurgitate those arguments with greater force, but again, unless we physically get up and do…something….all of our comments will be just that, whether they come off as educational, informative or snide.
As of 1997, Black people like myself were just starting to log on to these sites often. Personally, the AOL
chat rooms and Net Noir
(still online) were great platforms for me to build an audience for my poetic works, which led to the publication of my books. As other forms of entertainment, information, Net Noir and Black Voices were websites much needed for that period of time. Black Voices now belongs to a corporation and Net Noir hasn’t been the same since its heyday in the late 1990’s - early 2000’s. The irony is while Black Voices, Net Noir and the early Black Planet (before it took a ill-fated turn), were websites that belonged to the people it was meant to represent. Now, we spend our time posting on Facebook and Twitter, which is meant for a larger audience. The deeper irony is we always speak of ‘having our own’ and when we do have our own, we somehow don’t take the time to show support which then goes offline - for good - or we let it disintegrate into a cesspool of sex, gossip and drama. Yes, you know it’s true. But hey, it’s all worth another ‘like’ or followed ‘tweet’ right?
On the other hand, in the years since these sites began online, gone is the voice of the people - well, the people who posted on topics online like Black Voices. I took a look at the new BV, the sanitized version of the former site and while it still retains some of the old format, it lacks the feel of community. I equate as a small publisher that now acts as an imprint of the more corporate house. It may keep the name, but not the soul that made it so special. Perhaps that is the reason why folks have decided to create their own discussion forums and opinion pages to separate the facts from manufactured fiction. Net Noir and Black Voices may have paved the way, but it’s through a collective of well-informed people, a different perspective on topics for the present day are needed and much appreciated. For intellectuals, this is a welcome sight in the myriad of the world wide web. The point still remains that while online conversation and debate is essential in keeping these topics into the forefront of the societal consciousness and to search for solid solutions whether they be financial, legal or otherwise, all this continues to become moot without active participation.
So while I didn’t enlist the help of Sherman and Mr. Peabody
for the online Wayback Machine, a trip back in time proves that we had a lot to say back then and a lot to say now. Maybe one day, we’ll do more than rant online, maybe……