Tuesday, November 13, 2007

AB GuestPost: Michael Baisden Should Be Ashamed

[AverageBro isn't the only blog I read, of course. Sometimes I'll come across a post elsewhere that says what I can't say, and far better. So, I now present to you the latest installment of our newest feature: The AverageBro GuestPost. Pinch hitting today is my homegirl Anne-Marie McReynolds from Backyard Beacon. I've always thought of radio/TV personality Michael Baisden as a used car salesman type hustler, and his involvement in the Jena Six "movement" made me wonder what was really up with this guy. Turns out there's a story behind even his story.]


Why didn’t listeners suspect a ratings ploy when Bad Boy, Michael Baisden, took up the gauntlet for the “Jena 6” instead of “Girl 6?”

In the fashion of Jerry Springer, the radio talk show host of “Love, Lust, and Lies” found ratings in racism. And a post-Katrina black America was his target demographic. The issue at the forefront of the black agenda was obvious: equal justice. With a black candidate campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, Baisden marched in lockstep with the black netroots – hundreds of interlinked blogs and tens of thousands of followers.

ColorofChange.org lead what Rev. Al Sharpton has called an “underground railroad of information.” This non-profit corporation has since collected and distributed over $200,000 to the Jena 6 legal defense. Conversely, The Michael Baisden Foundation raised $40,000, he said at the start of his Nov. 5 broadcast. Copying another best practice from the netroots (the Ron Paul Money Bomb), Baisden announced a way for listeners to donate online in the form of a “Web-A-Thon.” He challenged his audience to raise $1 million in 1 day - Friday, Nov. 9.

As a precursor to unveiling a his Internet-based strategy for out-fundraising competitors, Baisden offered Marcus Jones, the father of Mychal Bell, an open mic to discredit ColorofChange.org. Jones said that “a lot of these online organizations are unknown to the families.” And Baisden claimed to have a letter signed by all the Jena 6 families that implies that ColorOfChange.org is acting against the wishes of the families.

According to a statement posted on their Web site, “We’ve[ColorofChange.org] fielded inquiries from CNN, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, Black America Web, and others, based on Marcus Jones’ allegations–they all concluded the claims were without merit and refused to give him a stage to speak.

“The Jena 6 families are all aware of how we raise money and how we distribute it,” ColorofChange.org said. “We make payments to their attorneys at the families’ sole direction. Within 24 hours of receiving written authorization from the family, along with an invoice from an attorney, we send checks for up to 1/6 of the total amount donated (1/6 for each of the Jena 6 families).” ColorofChange.org also posted a written authorization by Jones as evidence of their relationship.

The letter supposedly signed by the Jena 6 families is false, they said. “One parent who signed the letter says that it made no mention of ColorOfChange whatsoever. Two families say they did not sign the letter at all. They also posted an e-mail sent to Baisden’s team by one of the parents who did not sign the letter.

Although The Baisden Foundation is inextricably linked to its namesake’s for-profit enterprises, Baisden insists that “any insinuations that were made about me wanting to be the sole fundraiser for legal defense is ridiculous,” he said.

Baisen’s just “too tired after [his] radio gig to take on that responsibility, and furthermore, it is impossible,” he said.

Really? Too tired to host the “Enough Is Enough” reception, fundraiser, and concert benefiting his foundation’s Un-Equal Justice Legal Defense Fund on Friday, Nov. 5 at the Hyatt Regency and Sat., Nov.6 at the Atlantic Civic Center in Atlanta, GA? Worth noting, Marcus Jones spoke at these events.

Baisden’s crusade as an activist proved to be nothing more than a publicity stunt yet again. Take his apology to ColorofChange.org as case in point. In “A Response to Color of Change” posted in an online forum on Nov.9 at 2:35 p.m. - hours before reception doors opened for his charity fundraiser - Baisden said:

I am relieved to have put this behind us so that both our organizations can get back to the business of helping people. There is nothing wrong with having disagreements, as long as you love people enough to work it out, sooner rather than later.
As activists, black bloggers serve as watchdogs over more traditional community mediums. Perhaps auditing The Michael Baisden Foundation will spotlight his business practices.

Baisden’s Web-A-Thon has raised approximately $19,000 — 1% of its target amount.

Baisden’s Foundation For-Profit [Backyard Beacon]

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