becomes a challenge facing these collectives rather than evidence that they do not exist. In addition to addressing the question of heterogeneity, we need to differentiate between public spheres using other criteria. Salient aspects of public spheres might include the following: the history of their relationships to the state and dominant publics; how diverse is a particular public sphere; what sorts of institutional resources are available to the collective; what these institutions’ relationships are to the political, economic, and media institutions of the dominant society; and how their 456 Rethinking the Black Public Sphere modes of communicative and cultural expression are different from those of other publics and the entities within political and economic society. The political success of a marginal public sphere is impacted by the institutions a public is able to form, ties (or lack thereof) to political actors in the state and dominant sphere, and the ability to construct effective vehicles of publicity. “Stronger” public spheres are those with ready access to organized forms of association and publicity, such as independent media production, political action committees, professional organizations, etc. The publics that have institutions—which may be blocking other publics’ institutions—that are better able to affect the deliberations and decision making of legislatures, regulatory agencies, boards of directors, and other powerful actors in political and economic organizations. In the case of a Black public sphere, we must describe a public that has fought for over 300 years to gain the basic civil and legal rights that facilitate speech, assembly, and action in the United States.5 A history of Black public spheres must acknowledge the lack of civil rights as a foundational condition of Black publics, and then interrogate how this affects the development of Black media, political institutions, and tactics. Given that publics emerge out of various political and cultural contexts, I suggest one way of exploring and comparing public spheres is to concentrate on how they respond to dominant social pressures, legal restrictions, and other challenges from dominant publics and the state. I differentiate three responses: enclave, counterpublic, and satellite. This typology is not meant to be rigid; rather, each type represents a range of discursive and political responses that will emerge from a public sphere given the larger political context, internal concerns, available resources, institutions, and cultural norms. These factors will prompt constituents of a public sphere to utilize a particular response in its interactions with dominant publics and the state. Different responses may be employed simultaneously by various collectives, or in reaction to particular events. At times, one response type may be utilized by the majority of institutions and subgroups of a public sphere. In the history of Black public spheres, the pressures of living in a racist society, the ongoing fight for equality, and the rich cultural reserves have necessitated that Black public spheres utilize all of these responses, some for long periods of time, and some only for moments. These response types offer an alternative way to “read” Black publics, past and present. Enclaved Public Spheres: Producing Discourses in Safe Spaces Mansbridge (1996) writes that democracies need safe spaces for groups who are disadvantaged, to be used for “gathering their forces and deciding in a more protected space in what way or whether to continue the battle” for equality or just outcomes (p. 47). However, oppressed groups 457 Communication Theory Table 1. Characteristics of Enclave Publics Spaces and discourses hidden, used/ produced solely by group members Resources Goals few material, political, legal, or media resources preserve culture, foster resistance; create strategies for future Performance in wider publics “public transcript” Sanctions Example violence and disrespect from state and dominant publics African Americans in Jim Crow South often do not have the choice of picking safe spaces for themselves. Marginalized groups are commonly denied public voice or entrance into public spaces by dominant groups and thus are forced into enclaves. At different times in history, African Americans have been forced into enclaves by repressive state policies, and have used these enclave spaces to create discursive strategies and gather oppositional resources. For example, enslaved Africans were forced to live in poorly constructed slave quarters and had their movements heavily monitored by overseers, but they used these restricted spaces to foster resistance. Likewise, free Blacks in the antebellum North responded to social segregation by creating separate Black social institutions to foster their public speaking skills, create campaigns, and facilitate resistance. The enclave is signified by the utilization of spaces and discourses that are hidden from the view of the dominant public and the state. These clandestine places and communications are dedicated to Black interests and needs. Thus, the creation of discourses and media by and for Blacks dominate the enclave response. Even during periods of intense repression, though, “enclaved” publics will have some contact with dominant publics. However, the interactions are usually highly scripted, and members of marginal groups are compelled to conform to a “public transcript” which reinforces unequal social positions and frustrates natural impulses to perform reciprocal actions on the oppressor. To alleviate some of this frustration and to address their own interests, Blacks have created “hidden transcripts” in safe spaces.6 Of course, there will be times when the hidden transcript is revealed in wider public arenas, either when individuals or subgroups publicly express previously enclaved ideas, or when surveillance by the state or dominant publics reveals these clandestine discourses. In such cases, the revelation of the Black hidden transcript, which often contradicted the ideologies of white supremacy held by the majority white public sphere, elicited violent responses. Thus, an enclave public sphere requires the maintenance of safe spaces, hidden communication networks, and group memory to guard against unwanted publicity of the group’s true opinions, ideas, and tactics for survival. 458 Rethinking the Black Public Sphere For Black public spheres, the antebellum era required an enclave response, particularly from enslaved Blacks but also for free Blacks. Slaves created a number of ways to communicate without betraying their true thoughts to slaveholders, and found the means to plan successful escapes and revolts unbeknownst to overseers, slave owners, and others. Some free African Americans, on the other hand, were able to create media and discursive institutions for their own use when blocked from using those enjoyed by the White public. Through Black newspapers, reading rooms, and debate societies, free African Americans provided themselves with safe spaces to develop campaigns to protest against slavery,
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