Sunday, February 22, 2009

When Are African-Americans Going to Stop Complaining and Start Kicking A** ?

So the New York Post put out a cartoon that many think was a poor analogy at satire about the stimulus bill for what was likely a depiction of the President as a dead chimp. Due to the lingering racial animus and sheer discomfort to discuss and resolve the history of brutality and exploitation it took to build this country, I suspect many will react negatively and retreat to their corners. So let's say for the sake of argument it was offensive and therefore racist, but to what degree? Have people forgotten that we live in a country where racism thrives or have they bought into this fallacy of a post-racial America? There is no such thing and to deny the evil that manifests itself through systematic entrenchments is just crazy. 

Yes, I know every individual isn't like that, but you had best believe plenty of people who may not be actively engaging in it don't refuse the benefits derived from it! What is an appropriate response? To react solely on emotions or to seek a path of recourse? Also I don't think the President really cares as he's been called worse I'm certain. He's always cool as a cucumber. Besides, he's the freakin' President and the leader of free world. He has certain support systems in place, a family that adores him and lots of security and weapons at his disposal. Not that people shouldn't feel outraged if they think the situation warrants it, but they aren't planning long-term strategies and are too reactionary, not proactive.

Everybody decided to jump on the bandwagon as per their usual misguided efforts at displaying their outrage. By everybody I'm referring to the Civil Rights Industrial Complex motley crew: NAACP releases a statement (yawn); the new kids on the block Color of Change sent out a email initiative and 75K responded; and everybody's favorite Rev., Al Sharpton led a motley band of protesters (rolling my eyes). 

See I used to get riled up about these things too until it dawned on me that NOTHING EVER GETS DONE AND NOTHING EVER CHANGES. Plus there are far more dangers to the image of Black people being put out into the world by other Blacks. One primate versus the derogatory image of men as drooling idiots throwing money in the air/bragging about sex and violence with half-naked women gyrating to a beat - which one is worse? Which one garners the largest audience and has a lingering negative image?

I think author Jill Nelson summed it best in her article, No More Marches, which appeared in the April 2008 issue of Essence magazine:
Forty-three years later, in another millennium, we're still using the same technique, and to far less effect. These days, marches are carefully orchestrated spectacles for the purpose of allowing passionate people to come together and let off steam rather than massive, potentially uncontrollable manifestations of people's demand for justice and equality...But now marches are now so predictable and scripted they've lost the ability to impact politicians and policy, to force transformation.
Bah hooey the head idiot in charge, Editor in Chief gave some lame non-apology. Big whoop. The New York Post has a history of publishing incendiary and racist stories/cartoons/etc. Go down the list of all the "news" media and you will find a lot of dirty hands in that cookie jar. Go through the staff and you will find it to be a sanctuary for old white men with a few white women thrown in the mix and a few crumbs for a chosen non-whites, but make no mistake the people calling the shots are the same old-same old. 

Look at the ones writing the checks. Rupert Murdoch owns: NY Post, Wall Street Journal, Fox, MySpace amongst other holdings and has a net worth of at least $8B. Do you think he cares about a few letters and some people screaming on the corner? He's just going to cut a check and keep it moving. Are you going to stop patronizing his businesses? If you're going to engage in a battle with someone you should get a lay of the land and size up your opponent first to devise the best strategy before taking action. This isn't the '60s and those tactics don't work! 

Now if all of those protesting had decided to pool their time and resources for a long-term counter-attack and initiative that would be different. How about pushing for the FCC to grow a pair and get back to keeping these media outlets in line? How about paying attention to those applying for licenses like Bob Johnson trying to weasel his way into getting another network right under our noses? How about demanding Hollywood start hiring Black actresses again and not buying movie tickets until they do? How about accepting the fact that a man with Murdoch's stature has spent decades building alliances in all sectors of society and government in this country, the UK and his birth country Australia? 

How about working on the systematic racism in the hiring practices that have excluded independent thinkers who are unbiased in their coverage and yes, non-white, in positions of authority? Call on Eric Holder and tell him to put the muscle of the Justice Department behind his words. Call on the President and demand that he does. Well, these aren't glamorous moves and they take a long time. 30-40 years ago a certain pressure was applied and shame did wonders - as well as seeing people being hosed and murdered. 

The failure of Civil Rights was that equality wasn't demanded and the voices and contributions of Black women were shuttered so the men could progress (at our expense). Moving to formerly all-white enclaves, having unfettered access to white women, making some money or gaining notoriety seemed good enough for most of them. Yes, I'm mentioning this because it's time we do a reboot on the abridged version of events and tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Feeling good breeds complacency. We need to take action.

There were no long-terms plans for sustaining these gains which is why things have so quickly deteriorated in the past 10-20 years. I've noticed for example as the Black television anchors in my local news market have retired they are not replaced with another Black anchor or even another non-white of any gender but by white men and women. As I previously discussed in my post here there are no Blacks behind the anchor desks (and little if any in the offices of upper management) covering national evening news. 

When the vacant post for Meet the Press needed to be filled it was the white male running NBC who gave the slot to another white male - and not even someone who was remotely qualified. It's almost incestuous and it's definitely exclusionary and insulting. Where were the protests about that? Where is the strategizing for alternative sources of news? Why are Black people waiting for other people to act right? Start a network! Pool resources. Get busy. 

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Khadija said...

Hello there, Faith!

Outstanding post! {raised fist salute}

Jill Nelson is the bomb. I'm going to have to look to see if she has a blog.

I suspect that we've missed the train with the old-line media of television and print media. And unlike the Spanish-language media (that exists in every city where they have the physical numbers), there's no "natural" Black market for explicitly Black-run news. Our people talk that stuff about wanting serious Black media, but our actions say something else.

However, the new media of the internet seems to still be open. Open in the sense of there still being room to build a Black-run, but general-targetted, news outlet. Something along the lines of the Huffington Post.

We have just as much authority and legitimacy to call anything we produce "mainstream." Just like everybody else. I learned quite some time ago that the most successful Black businesses are NEVER explicitly "Black." They quietly get money from ALL consumers (such as laundromats, etc.). We could have internet news outlets that aren't explicitly touted as "Black," and yet include our concerns and frames of reference.

In any event, the internet is still wide open and I would suggest that as many of us as possible get in on it before the windows & doors start closing. [Which is what I'm working on with my side business.]

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Hello Khadija: I never mentioned to you that's my niece's name as well. I added the Jill Nelson quotes to the post which I'd already written because it fit in so nicely with the subject at hand. I've been cleaning and was sorting through magazine clippings that I tear out for future use. Glad I found it. Yes, the internet is still open and hasn't even been saturated yet so now is the time to jump in. Thanks for the feedback!