On the Media

American-flag-America

 

The president of the United States has been on a  campaign to discredit the media; he takes every opportunity to cast a cloud over what is called the “mainstream media,” casting them as harbingers of lies. This he does even as he himself blatantly lies about nearly everything.

While I do not agree that what he calls “fake news” is in fact, fake, I do take issue with the press as an entity which has sorely misrepresented situations in the past. The press has enormous power which it could have been using all along to dispel, for instance, that most black people are criminals. It has missed opportunities to shift the narrative about black people from one that makes society justify whatever treatment blacks receive at the hands of law enforcement. It seldom reports on the huge gains blacks make in spite of impoverished neighborhoods, failing schools, and joblessness. In spite of what the press presents, black people in this country have done and continue to do amazing things, racism, sexism and capitalism notwithstanding.

In the same way, the press feeds into the frenzy and the fear around terrorism. Too often, as soon as there is an incident which may or may not be terrorism, the press puts the “t” word out, making those who are already afraid sink even deeper into their fear.

The press is predictably quiet, however, when white people act in ways that are problematic or which reek of radical American Christian terrorism. There has been very little coverage, and certainly, the picture of the man who shot two people from India, yelling before he shot them, “Get out of my country!” has not been plastered across television screens. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/02/24/get-out-of-my-country-kansan-reportedly-yelled-before-shooting-2-men-from-india-killing-one/?utm_term=.40f469a5d8d6) Chances are, very few Americans know about the shooting, and the dearth of information and reporting on it is helping people stay in their own corners of truth where the “bad dudes,” as the president says, are anything but white.

Last evening, a young man drove into a crowd of people in New Orleans, injuring a good number of them, though none of them apparently have life-threatening injuries. The youngest injured is reportedly 3 years old. The incident was reported, but there was no name given, and no picture. (http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/25/us/new-orleans-mardi-gras-parade-accident/)  Had this man had an Muslim-sounding name, and had he been a person who appeared to be Muslim, there is little doubt his name and picture would have been plastered over every news operation in this country.

There was none of that, though, but instead a strange silence. This young man, taken into custody, was white. He was apparently drunk. And did a tragic thing. Yet, the media protects him.

The press is definitely tainted and leans toward protecting the status quo. It is too eager to report on the troubling and bad things people of color do, while too often not giving the same kind of attention to the things white people do. It represents the power structure and seems that it understands that its job is to keep that power structure in place.

There has been some effort in the recent past by the press to report on the very real struggles of African Americans to make their voices heard. The Black Lives Matter movement is not something that this country likes to give credence to. The press has been good about covering the town halls that are going on all over the country, in spite of Republicans saying they are merely gripe sessions put in place by the angry Left,  using paid protesters.

But on the hatred of radical Christian terrorists, the press has failed miserably. Immediately lifting up a situation which involves a person of color while ignoring a similar situation where the perpetrator is clearly white, and filled with hatred, speaks of a lack of objectivity on the part of the press and a willingness to feed into the paranoia surrounding “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Terrorism is terrorism, regardless of who commits the act, and white people who drive into crowds of innocent people are not deserving of being protected by the press.

A candid observation …

ISIS at Home

It just doesn’t stop.

While the media has gone crazy nuts, covering the terrorist attack in Brussels, which was, for sure, horrific, America’s own terrorism against people of color, specifically and especially against black men, continues with hardly a whisper.

I was shocked, then saddened, and then …angry…when I read about New York police officers who handcuffed an African-American mail carrier in Brooklyn because…well, because they could.

According to the article about the incident which appeared in the New York Times, Glen Grays, 27, yelled at a car which came careening around a corner, coming dangerously close to him and his mail truck. He was afraid he was going to be sideswiped.

When Grays yelled, the car was put into reverse and the driver said to Grays, “I have the right of way because I am law enforcement.” Inside the car were three other officers, all plainclothes. They all approached Grays and ended up handcuffing him, telling him to “stop resisting,” although a video taken at the scene doesn’t show him resisting at all, except to say, “I didn’t do anything!” He was handcuffed nonetheless, taken down to the police station, his mail truck left unattended. He was charged with disorderly conduct, and was released. He is going to have to appear in court to answer the charges. (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/27/nyregion/glen-grays-the-mailman-cuffed-in-brooklyn.html?_r=0&login=google)

When will this craziness end? And when will the media take seriously the cry that black lives do  matter, a cry which has come from generations of black lives being denigrated and destroyed by law enforcement? When will law enforcement stop whining about finally being called out on its behavior, a behavior with which it has gotten away with for generations, perhaps more so since the issuance of the Fugitive Slave Laws? When will this nation admit that, based on how its agencies charged with protecting American citizens, it has shown that black lives really do not matter?

The criminalization of black people has destroyed families and communities. It has caused little black children to be at risk..of being kids …kids who do things that all of us as kids have done. This week, a six-year old child was handcuffed in Chicago for taking candy off a teacher’s desk. (https://www.rawstory.com/2016/03/crying-6-year-old-put-in-handcuffs-under-schools-stairs-for-taking-candy-off-teachers-desk/) She was six years old. Perhaps being put in a corner would have been a suitable response, or being put in “time out,” but being handcuffed?”

It’s really hard to listen to the outrage expressed over terrorist attacks on cities like Brussels and Paris while equally or worse attacks are carried out in Nigeria and Turkey and Somalia and Palestine with little to no mention. I despise terrorism, but I despise more the selective reporting of terrorism.

But I am also incensed by America’s refusal to own her own brand of “ISIS.” Law enforcement officers in this nation, as well as the courts and entire justice system, have terrorized and demonized and in effect, killed the spirits of literally hundreds of thousands of African-Americans just because they could. The justice system has played with the lives of black people accused and of offenses which they often did not do, by putting them in mock courts with white prosecutors, white judges and all-white juries, basically condemning them and forcing them to second and third rate citizenship in this country which prides itself on having the best justice system in the world.

While the media is bleeding over what happened in San Bernadino, Brussels and in Paris, it has showed little stomach or empathy  for the injustice and damage done on this side of the pond to African-Americans, surely, but also to brown people, and Native Americans. All day long the media has been talking abut Brussels and the ineptitude of law enforcement there. Isn’t there a lot of ineptitude here that the media ought to be lifting up? How in the world can America show horror at what ISIS did in Brussels without coming to terms what our justice system, America’s ISIS, did to Kalief Browder? If you remember, Kalief was a high school student when he was accused of stealing someone’s book bag – which he had not done. He was arrested and was in prison for three years without a trial. When he was finally released, after trying to reconnect with society and get his life back, he gave up  and committed suicide. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/09/nyregion/kalief-browder-held-at-rikers-island-for-3-years-without-trial-commits-suicide.html)

Where is the outrage of the media, of the people running for president? While some white people try to steer the conversation away from the complaint about how black people are treated in this nation, urging the slogan to be “ALL lives matter,” the fact of the matter is that white power treats black lives as though they are nothing, like they are disposable income, so to speak.

Thinking about this young mail carrier, arrested and charged because he yelled at an unmarked police car that scared him, just makes my anger grow deeper and deeper. I need for America to stop talking so much about international terrorism and deal with the terrorism which is right in front of us all, on America’s Main Streets.

A candid observation …

 

 

 

America Is Not Safe

I have waited to write anything as I have watched the developments in the story of the horrific shooting in Oregon because I had to think.

I had to think, to wonder, what is going on in America, and what I came up with is that America is not safe anymore.

I had been thinking that for a while. I am no longer comfortable going into movie theaters or any public venues, really. When I drive I am really conscious of using my turn signal and watching my speed — which I always did, but with more intentionality now. I think of Sandra Bland, now dead, after she was arrested for <a href=”http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/21/us/texas-sandra-bland-arrest/&#8221; target=”_hplink”>allegedly not using her turn signal</a>. I think of saying things, writing things, to let people know that if I end up dead in someone’s jail cell, that I did not kill myself. I take time to pay attention to the things I warned my son to take note of when he began driving, because I was afraid for him as a black man in America, a young, brilliant, handsome black man in America whose life is never safe here.

America is not safe — not because of international terrorism or ISIS, although ISIS as a force exists. America is not safe — not because of black on black crime. Yes, we in the black community need to be concerned with the destruction of black lives wherever and however it happens, including in our own communities. The one thing GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson said that I agree with is that all black lives matter. There is no doubting that the destruction of black lives occurs in black communities.

But that is not why America is not safe. Black people for the most part do not target and kill white people. Black people, most often go after other black people. Back on black crime is not the reason America is not safe. America is not safe because of white on white crime, because of this tendency of mostly young white men, angry with the world, or angry at their circumstances, and definitely angry at the government, think the way to handle their anger is to go into public spaces and just shoot, or kill masses of people in whatever way they can.

I remember thinking how unsafe America was when Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I was angry at them for targeting a building with innocent people — including babies — inside. It’s OK to be angry with the government; that is part of being a citizen in a country, but to just bomb a public space, or to just go into a public space and begin randomly shooting, is a punk way to handle the anger. It is a punk way and it is despicable and it is cowardly.

The coverage of the shooting in Oregon has rung hollow for me. Our politicians are more concerned with holding onto an illogical insistence that “common sense gun laws” will keep people from owning guns. Pro-gun advocates insist that more people having guns will reduce gun violence and deaths from gun violence. It is insane and illogical reasoning, borne out of a stubborn resistance to “big government.

The sheriff of Douglas County, John Hanlin, does not believe there should be any kind of gun control and even suggested that in the Sandy Hook situation, where 20 <em>children</em> were left dead, might be a conspiracy. He posted a piece on YouTube after that incident, saying that “there has been a lot of deception surrounding the Sandy Hook shooting.” He suggested that the grieving parents might be “crisis actors.”

This, from a “law enforcement” officer.

There has been much talk about these young men, mostly white, who go into public spaces and gun people down. They are bad people, the experts say. They are mentally ill.

Perhaps. But the point has been made that people who are mentally ill are more likely to kill themselves than others for the most part. And, the case was made by President Obama, that in other modern countries there are just as many young men who are mentally ill, but we don’t hear about them gunning people down like they do here.

Attempts to explain the behavior of the mass shooters have relied as well on profiles, saying they are angry. Lots of people are angry. They don’t mow people down.

No, there’s something else going on. America’s culture is one of violence; the people from the Mayflower came into this new land mowing people down, specifically the Native Americans who were already here. We are a violent society. One of our core American beliefs is that the way to handle anger and to acquire and keep control of others is by and with violence. Cowboys were violent. Those who settled the West were violent. The debate over slavery was handled with a horror called the Civil War.

The answer, actually, to Dr. Martin Luther King’s campaign of non-violence, was violence. White people actually said that his non-violent campaign was inspiring and forcing violence in return.

America, with its core value of violence, is not safe. These young men, staunch supporters of the Second Amendment, are good, wholesome American citizens, with American values.

That’s what’s scary, and it’s at least one reason why America is not safe.