Color of Change responds to Baisden’s apology
From: “James & Van, ColorOfChange.org”
Date: November 13, 2007
Subject: Baisden’s “apology”
Last Friday, less than 24 hours after you and thousands of other ColorOfChange.org members wrote to his bosses at ABC Radio, Michael Baisden issued an “apology.” It shows that we got Baisden’s attention, and that wouldn’t have happened without you.
We hoped Baisden was really going to step up, but he didn’t. Baisden’s statement fails every test of a decent apology. First, it misleads listeners about how he came to defame us. Then, it misrepresents the real interests of the Jena 6 families, to take another shot at us. Finally, it tries to sweep all the damage Baisden has caused under the rug, while doing very little to rebuild his listeners’ confidence in ColorOfChange or in online organizing as a strategy.
Michael Baisden could be a valuable ally in our stuggle — but we can’t accept a dishonest apology that spreads more misinformation. This isn’t just about defending ourselves, it’s about being true to the values we have at ColorOfChange. An important part of our mission is holding those who claim to be our leaders accountable for their actions. For us to do that in this case, we can’t in good conscience accept Baisden’s partial and misleading “apology.”
1) Baisden said his staff had been given “inaccurate information,” and referenced the documentation on our website as if it were new to them. But the truth is that we gave the Baisden show everything they needed to confirm that the money was going where it was supposed to go weeks before the broadcast. And we have the documentation to prove it. This wasn’t a problem of not having “reliable sources.” It was a problem of deliberately ignoring them.
2) While “apologizing,” Baisden continued to sow seeds of doubt about ColorOfChange by misrepresenting the desires of most of the Jena 6 families. He claimed that four of the six Jena families insist that ColorOfChange stop fundraising on their behalf. Other than Marcus Jones, no parent has ever told us they want us to stop fundraising. Baisden refuses to reveal the letter that he now says was signed by four of the six families (and earlier claimed was signed by “all” of them); but in the past week, we have confirmed with the five other families, directly and through their attorneys, that they want us to continue fundraising for their children. We have, of course, honored Marcus Jones’ request that we stop fundraising for his son, after hearing it on the radio.
3) Baisden said he’s “relieved to have put this behind us.” But unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Baisden has done serious damage to ColorOfChange.org’s reputation. He has played on understandable fears among Black folks — that organizations are going to take their money and run with it. This doesn’t only damage ColorOfChange. It damages Black people. It damages the movement for change that we and our allies are trying to build. And it will take far more than a few partial and misleading apologies to undo that damage.
Moving forward, we are exploring every option to repair that damage in a constructive way and to clear our name with our members and with Michael Baisden’s listeners. Hopefully, Michael Baisden will be a partner in making that happen.
In times as serious as these, this kind of drama and distraction absolutely sickens us. We know it sickens you. We thank you, and our allies and partners in the Black blogosphere, for standing with us to help set the record straight and defend our work together. We look forward to continuing the work that we do, and, with your participation, to make America a better place for Black folks, and everyone else.
Thank You and Peace,
— James, Van, Clarissa, Gabriel, Mervyn, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
November 13th, 2007
Stay up fam,