Erasing Mariah Parker - Articles - Soundblab

Erasing Mariah Parker

by Jon Burke Rating: Release Date:
Erasing Mariah Parker
Erasing Mariah Parker

On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, Mariah Parker, a.k.a. Linqua Franqa, took the oath of office required to become the District 2 Commissioner for Georgia’s Athens-Clarke County. Parker took her oath not on the Christian Bible, as is tradition, but instead, she held a copy of Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X. When word spread of Ms. Parker’s unique swearing-in ceremony, the 2018 internet hate machine went into overdrive as racist trolls came out from under their respective digital bridges to rant about Parker on Twitter and various right-wing websites. It was yet another example of Mariah Parker’s willingness, in her public life, to boldly and honestly declare her identity and share her hard-earned convictions, consequences be damned. Parker’s intellectual acumen, political savvy, and poetic prowess have given her a strong, informed and powerful voice—a voice she uses to call out injustice, hypocrisy and the cultural hegemony which stymies progress and seeks to silence voices like her own. In this way, it comes as no surprise that the latest right-wing tactic being used to silence Mariah Parker is erasure.

Recently, the rather extensive Wikipedia article on Linqua Franqa was deleted from Wikipedia. Despite her celebrated scholastic, musical and political achievements, a few dedicated Wikipedia users saw fit to target Mariah Parker for deletion. These extremely passionate for Wiki-purity, pro-deletion, users suggested Parker was not worthy of inclusion on the site by claiming, among other things, that she was merely an attention-seeker who wasn’t famous enough to warrant her own page. The pro-deletion users deemed (most?) online music journalism, and criticism, to be illegitimate and thus Parker’s coverage, interviews, and reviews on a number of reputable sites was unworthy of Wikipedia’s high standards for inclusion. Now, at this point, I’d like to produce a series of links to ridiculously inane Wikipedia entries which are actually worthy of deletion but I’m certain a sweaty, Cheetos-fingered, ad hominem, logical fallacy, aggro posse would descend upon me like a pack of Mt. Dew-fueled wolves. Frankly, I don’t have the kind of backbone or integrity that someone like Mariah Parker needs to have in order to deal with those kinds of trolls. I honestly cannot imagine the courage it takes to be a woman in 2018, much less a woman of color, who publicly identifies as queer, an academic, politically left-wing and a rapper proudly repping Malcolm X. The reason I cannot imagine the courage it takes to hold those identities is because of what we do to women who dare to speak-out: we shame, deride, attack, silence and, as in Mariah's case, seek to erase them. Don't believe me, here's some Wiki-proof for you:

I had the privilege and pleasure to interview Mariah for Soundblab, last year, just before the release of Model Minority and her career-making set at SXSW. She was every bit as brilliant, inspired, intense and honest as one would expect from the author/performer of "Eight Weeks", who was also a full-time grad student and campaign manager. She's the kind of person one secretly longs to impress because she clearly does not suffer fools gladly and has very little time for bullshit. Mariah spoke openly about her struggles with mental health, reproductive rights, racism, injustice and her love for hip-hop. I came away from my first listen to Model Minority wanting to know more about the artist who'd recorded it. I came away from our enlightening interview with the certainty that I'd just encountered an important new voice in music and politics far beyond some local scene or regional act. It turns out that I was correct in my assessment to the point that Ms. Parker's very existence has become a threat to her detractors and, in turn, they are doing their damnedest to discredit and silence her. 

Like many comfortable, liberal, white Americans, I'd hoped the November 6th midterm election would involve a massive blue wave which would wash over (away?) all the of hate, oppression, and violence that has become increasingly acceptable in our society. Instead of a clear-cut rebuke to hatred, what we got was a confusing 2016 redux election in which a highly polarized electorate failed to make many real decisions. Mostly, the election results are a reminder that there is no salve for what ails us collectively. In order to begin healing, what we need is real connection, empathy, and understanding between those who have power and a voice and those who do not. That will never happen if we continue to erase people like Mariah Parker from the zeitgeist. 

My one hope in this situation is that, regardless of the current mountain of demonstrable evidence for her legitimate inclusion in Wikipedia, Mariah Parker isn't going to stop her work or her art. She's just 27 years old and as she continues to make strides toward good public policy, in addition to her music and scholarship, she will inch closer and closer to the kind of undeniable importance that necessitates a Wikipedia entry. With that said, there is something you, the reader, can do to remedy this situation now: request Mariah's page be undeleted from Wikipedia. Follow the directions and be vigilant and hopefully, we can undo this unwarranted erasure of an important voice in our national discourse.


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