Sunday, March 14, 2010

Race, Reporters and Revolution

Race, Reporters and Revolution:
Editing Out an Era

Paul Scott

"You don't know my kind in your world. Fairly soon time will tell."
Taking it to the Streets-The Doobie Brothers

A few years back, a Kentucky newspaper issued a rather weak apology for, virtually, ignoring the whole Civil Rights Era.

"Oh, we missed the most important moment in modern history..."

"Our bad."

I'm not sure about their rationale for taking a chill pill on a whole decade of bloodshed, murder and mayhem but it probably had something to do with not wanting to rock the boat by disturbing the status quo. Far be it for the press to break up the fine institution of master-slave hegemony.

Unfortunately, this is not much different than the attitude of the Triangle area newspapers in 2010.

Although, we are, perhaps, on the verge of a culture clash that will make the whole Civil Rights period look like the First St. Baptist Church Saturday night bingo game, the newspapers seem content to give us the same rehashed cookie cutter type commentary in regards to racism, class-ism and sexism.

However, this cannot be said for Conservative talk radio, as the airwaves are dominated by commentators spewing racist, right wing venom on a daily basis.

The local press would have us to believe that this constant provocation is not affecting the collective mood of black folks. It boggles the mind that the media don't realize that African Americans who ,unfortunately, stumble upon Raleigh's new Rush Radio morning show, might be a little irritated by their "tired of lazy minorities takin' away the rights of hard workin' white citizens" party line ,which sounds ,suspiciously, like it was taken straight out of the KKK recruiting manual.

In his book, "The Soul of Black Folks," WEB Du Bois wrote that "the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line." In the 21st century, this is a line that cannot simply be deleted from an editor's laptop by pressing a button, especially with the Right Wingers raining down racist rants like an April thunderstorm .

The press's down playing of the black perspective on racial issues may well have had its start over 40 years ago.

Following the racial unrest of the mid 1960's, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Illinois Governor Otto Kerner to head a commission to search for the "roots of rising militancy in our country." One of the criticisms of the media was that they were guilty of "giving disproportionate amounts of time to emotional events and militant leaders." So the implication was clear, silence the black voices of descent as they may stir up the natives.

The result of which is what we are stuck with today, the segregation of thoughts and ideas. In other words, apathetic media apartheid.

According to Dr. Devin Fergus in his book "Liberalism, Black Power and the Making of American Politics," "Americans spend their daily lives with people who think just like they do." He goes on to borrow a quote from Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing warning that it is "an ideological inbreeding that is creating a dangerous distance between Americans who hold opposing views."

And what is the destiny of the denial of divergent views ?

One shudders to think.

History has taught us that those in power will only be awakened from their daydreams of plausible denial by the blaring of fire alarms and the screams of fire engine sirens.

Therefore, change must start, now!

Why, we are nothing more than hypocrites if we, constantly ,challenge our youth to be free thinkers and to rise above mediocrity but do not challenge the members of the press to do the same and give us more than mundane, milquetoast malarkey passing as hard hitting journalism.

We cannot wait for the media gatekeepers to make the change. The revolution must be sparked by those citizens who are tired of listening to the same old songs sung by the local press.

We must let the high level corporate execs know that a newspaper that does not challenge us to face the difficult issues of the day, head on and face forward, is not even fit to line bird cages.

Perhaps the media gatekeepers believe the stereotypes that nothing good can come out of the 'hood accept gangsta rappers and basketball players. Maybe they think that the average black dude lacks the intellectual ability to form a political opinion.

I started "No Warning Shots Fired" to be the voice of those who are not willing to wait for their opinions to validated like a parking stub or cosigned like someone with bad credit trying to buy a Mercedes Benz.

There are those will want to shoot the messenger. Those who will consider this the ranting of a member of a small fringe element in this country.

The gamble is yours.

As James Baldwin said in "The Fire Next Time," take no one's word for anything , including mine, but trust your own experience."

And I share the experiences not of the status quo, but of those from the 'hood to the historically black college campus. From the bus stop to the barbershop. The No Warning Shots Fired Movement is for the people.

And there are more like me coming. Despite having an African American in the White House, the hatred that produced the 60's Civil Rights/Black Power movement is 10 times worse today.

Every insult leveled at black folks, whether it be Dan Rather 's recent Obama "watermelon selling" comment or last week's WRDU morning show's berating of the head of the NC NAACP, gives birth to another James Baldwin, another Eldredge Cleaver; another Malcolm X.

As the Doobies sang back in the 70's, you will find us everywhere "Wherever people live together, tied in poverty's despair."

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or
"No Warning Shots Join the Media Revolution."