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 …

 

 

 

The Cost of Escapism

So many people like to characterize black people as lazy, criminal, manipulative, ignorant, ….and so much more …but I doubt any other ethnic group in this nation could have endured what black people have endured.

While Americans are up in arms about terrorism, those same Americans have never really acknowledged that America has practiced terrorism against black people for literally hundreds of years. Just yesterday I was reading about how white people in the South resented black men who came home from war. They came home empowered; the war made them realize they didn’t have to take racism and its resultant discrimination. One soldier (and there are many stories about how black soldiers were treated when they got finished with their tours of duty) was Isaac Woodard. He was a sergeant, and was on a Greyhound Bus, traveling from Georgia to North Carolina. He had to go to the bathroom and asked the driver, who was white, if he would make a stop for the same. The driver got angry and I don’t think he stopped. What he DID do, however, was notify his “boys.” At the next stop, the bud was met by a group of whites, including the Chief of Police, Linwood Shull. The angry white men dragged Woodard off the bus and beat him nearly to death. In the midst of the fight one of his eyes was gouged out by a nightstick of one of the officers who was participating. Woodward was then taken to jail. He was blind for the rest of his life. (http://www.blackpast.org/aah/woodard-isaac-1919-1992).

And he was a member of the beloved military; he had gone to defend his country. Normally, that gives you iconic status …but only if you were white.

When you read and study the treatment of blacks in this country, it is nothing short of remarkable that blacks have continued to stand, to push through, and to succeed. The War on Drugs has its own political history and purposes; one of its goals was to continue to control black people and it has by resulting in so many blacks being incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes that America can now boast of incarcerating more people than any other modern industrial country in the world, but not even mass incarceration has stopped black people from pushing against this Goliath called racism, while protestors stand on the sidelines and say that those who talk about racism and what it does is a fantasy, unreal, and no longer an issue.

I doubt, again, that any other ethnic group could have withstood the discrimination, the hatred, the terrorism, that America has practiced against black people. I doubt that any other ethnic group could even hold together the scores of mothers and fathers whose children have been murdered by whites, many under the rubric and with the participation of law enforcement, and stayed sane. America’s racism has helped people dehumanize black people to the point that it seems they cannot imagine that a black mother’s pain is just as deep as is that of a white mother. Does anyone grieve for the mothers, fathers and family members of Michael Brown? Trayvon Martin? Rekia Boyd? Jordan Davis? Did anyone grieve a mother’s grief when, during slavery, babies were snatched from their mothers’ arms as the mothers were taken off to work for a white person?  Does anyone think about how the accumulation of grieving mothers and family has ultimately affected this country? Are the parents of slain black children as worthy of support and care as are the parents of slain white children? Black people have endured all of that …and the fact that in this country, there is and has not been, justice for black people.  I doubt that any other ethnic group could hold people together who have lived with the realization that not even the “justice system” was there to protect them; in fact, the justice system seemed to be just one of the tools used to oppress them.

Don’t…talk about how African-Americans have a scarcity of moral fiber when in fact those fibers have been pulled to the breaking point consistently, seemingly wanting to force a break. Don’t …talk about black people being lazy when it is documented that white employers have historically discriminated against blacks as they have sought work, even saying, during the Great Depression and after the Dust Bowl (and probably other times) that “niggers ought not apply for work until every white man has a job.” Don’t …talk about how little black kids cannot read and blame it on a lack of intellect when it has been a strategy to create ghettos to keep blacks separated and then a tendency to ignore the schools in those ghettos, forcing little black children into dilapidated buildings, some with no air and/or inadequate heat, used books, and the worst teachers…

Don’t.

Black families have been teaching their children how to survive in this, our land, which is at the same time, a strange land. This land we built, giving hours of back-breaking labor, made to work from “can’t see to can’t see,” doesn’t want us and doesn’t know what to do with us. This country will not own its racist history and therefore will not and cannot see the harm that racism has done. America has immersed itself in a sea of escapism and denial, and because of that, our racism, our peculiar disease, is worse than it ever was. There is no post-racial America. The claim is ridiculous. One cannot be “post” anything unless and until an initial action has taken place. One is only “post-surgery” after the initial, needed surgery has been performed. There has been no surgery to excise America’s racist tumor; it has metastasized and is killing our country, bit by bit.

If ever there was a place that needs peace and reconciliation hearings and subsequent healing actions, it is the United States.

Too much to write today. But it will come. It will come.

A candid observation …