Access Denied

root - Posted on 24 September 2000

"...Not Being Heard is standing inside of a beautiful bright blue sky with a shimmering sun that drips blood..."

by Tiny

Not Being Heard is standing inside of a beautiful bright blue sky with a shimmering sun that drips blood, and runs down the sidewalk and onto your feet as you stand next to humans that are laughing and talking and thinking about regular things like jobs and school work and friendships and family while you beg someone, anyone to help you out of this homeless shelter this jail this evistion court..this police car..this welfare line..this low wage job... this situation... this terror....dealing with struggles on top of struggles inside of other struggles tucked under rent checks and phone bills and towed cars and lost jobs that breed yet again more struggles - sufferring so deep and so endless that you canít breathe - - Not Being heard is to sit in jail next to five other inmates eating a wonder bread sand-wich as they wonder whatís wrong with.. them.... and gladly giving up because it is easier than going on...

Being heard is to dream that you will be listened to - perhaps understood... consulted..questioned and therefore recognized for the miracle of surviving through poverty..through hopelessness....surviving.... through not being heard.... Lisa Gray-Garcia

Thick gray fog descended on the POOR Magazine team of poverty journalists as we jumped off the 14 Mission towards Moscone center, the site of the National Association of Broadcasters. “Who gets access? “ Who Gets Heard” our brown, black, pale yellow and bright white hands clutched our handmade signs proclaiming our right to media access, the broadcast airwaves, and jus’being heard.

Our first encounter was a staged piece of street theatre in collaboration with Media alliance and “los Cybrids” a group of digital performance artists known for their radical art on race, class and gentrification.

“Hey Sweetheart, show me your breasts....yeah you, with the sign” Renee Garcia,played the role of Howard Sternum, as one of the representatives of “the National Association of Brainwashers”

The role of Eddie Fritz, CEO of The NAB was played by John Leanos repleat with bulging thighs and spontaneous regurgitation, Praba Pilar and Mario Zapp played the roles of corporate females who aided and abetted the evil white men in their mass media control along with a representative from Billionaires for Media Mergers.

And then.......Who gets Access ? Who gets Heard? suddenly the poor folks seized their rightful access and took down the “Corporate Fat Cats” landing them in a squirming pile on Howard street.

After we seized the mike, staff writers, Leroy Moore, Kaponda, Leo Stegman, Joseph Bolden, Anna Morrow, Barbara Huntley Smith, Liana Fabiani, Will Steel and myself began to speak truth to power,i.e., the handful of companies that control the airwaves.who arrived in limosines and Yahoo! taxicabs spitted out bunches of corporate media moguls as we the unheard and independent media, requested a voice; “What do we want?.... Access - When do we want it?...... now!!!”

The POOR Magazine staff was followed by Janine Jackson, program director of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and Andrea Buffa, Executive Director of Media Alliance, who summed up the NAB’s tactics in an analagy to another far too powerful lobby group, “ The NAB is just like the NRA- but instead of lobbying for guns, they lobby to to keep the airwaves out of the hands of the public”

After our official press conference was finished the POOR staff embarked on their next form of “Media in Action”. We attached our press badges ( which stated that we were POOR Magazine reporters!), walked past the police barricades and into the polished floors of the Moscone Center North. “We are reporters-let’s report!!!” We murmured in unison

As we descended onto the the convention hall our first encounter with access denial was a whisper into a hand-held intercom by a security agent wearing a stiff blue polyester suit. “Five sketchy looking characters just entered the building...”

Undaunted we proceeded...through the shimmering chrome, glistening formica and floor to ceiling posters of PAUL HARVEY and DR LAURA. to the hall where Colin Powell would be speaking.

“You can’t come in without press credentials” A blue suited security man in conjunction with a tan suited woman were shaking their heads in a collaborative no!!

“But we have press credentials...” we all held up our badges.

“ need the press passes that we issue - you have to go downstairs for those”

“ OK” Once again we went down the escalator to another deeper escalator into the bowels of the Moscone center - we passed the signs and banners- lunch counter and slightly curious attendees and beyond a red velvet curtain into a long cement hall which would be our final destination.

“ What publication are you from?” Another tan suited security woman queried me on who we were as three other women and a Tommy Lee Jones/CIA-like NAB official huddled in the corner while shooting furtive glances in our direction. Meanwhile several reporters from NBC, MSNBC, CNN and ABC darted past us, picking up plastic badges hanging on sporty green necklaces. At one point the Tommy Lee Jones man walked in and out and when he returned he was followed by a San Francisco Police Officer, who unbeknownst to me was almost arresting one of our reporters who made the crucial mistake of taking a picture of the SFPD officer”

“We are from POOR are our press badges” I enunciated my words- savoring each consonant - intent on her hearing every syllable.

“But I don’t know that Mag-a-zine....” She shook her head as she spoke in much the same way all the people who have ever turned me down for an apartment, welfare payments, a job or a loan have done.

I was tempted to say - well you do nowwwww...but instead I continued, very seriously, very calmly, just like a game show host or a lawyer. “Well...we can go on-line right now and you can see our news service”

“OK” She relented quickly, guiding me swiftly to the back of the room to a small computer

After waiting for several painful minutes she printed a few pages of PNN and we walked to the front of the room. As she stood over the registration table shuffling through my forms the huddle formed once again, eventually motioning to my tan suited lady to come into the huddle. The huddle members all looked quite relieved, shaking their heads and chuckling, and as I inched nearer to them I heard them tell her, “Colin Powell has finished- give them passes......”


Sign-up for POOR email!