Writing our own news

Photo of William T. Robinson Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

As an African American aware of what is happening in the Black community, I am often surprised at how the White media projects their spin on African American news. All too often I find myself shaking my head and trying to see if I missed something according to what I’m being told by the White media. If I couldn’t think for myself and know the truth, I would believe the White media knows more about Black people than we know about ourselves. I’m not trying to be facetious or problematic. I am just expressing what so many Blacks I come into contact with express.

In fact many African Americans find it insulting, especially when the White media promotes actions taken by our Black leaders the community knows haven’t been worthy of them being deemed as leaders. Has it come to the point that we are incapable of identifying our own leaders? Do you think as a Black community we don’t know whom our advocates are working in our best interests? I doubt it seriously. What I see is a community that is beginning to question the credibility of those being pushed as our leaders and the motives for the White media’s relentless support for their acceptance. Everyone is not walking around with rose tinted glasses. We are aware of the unmitigated truth that all too often a game or plot is unraveling.

Because Whites control the media, they have the power to promote us in whatever light they choose and too often it is in a negative light, highlighting our brawn as athletes but shunning our ability in academia or as intellectuals. Subliminally through the media, our children see their worth as athletes but not as intellectuals. Many find these roles reserved primarily for their White counterparts. In fact, we have gotten into the role of promoting empty headed, shallow and sensational negative, Black stereotypes in reality shows that belittle us as a people. That goes to show that many Blacks are buying into degrading images so often perpetuated by the media and etched in our minds.

Many times a Black is only being used as a pawn with a hidden agenda and no real power. Whites in powerful positions often support African Americans they can easily manipulate or compromise with promises of higher positions or financial gain. Why is this scenario-becoming commonplace in so many Black communities? Usually the individuals being pushed and promoted by the White media are all about self. They don’t find it hard to sell out those they are supposed to be helping. Isn’t that what is being taught at many of our finer institutions of higher learning, to succeed at whatever the cost. It’s all about getting yours. There you have it, why so many of our educated Blacks feel it is okay to put everything to the side in the effort to attain their own self-promoting goals. It wasn’t always like that in the Black community, but sometimes that is the consequence of too much education wherein knowledge overrides wisdom. Better yet some call it assimilation.

What I find so surprising is how many times the White media tries to make Blacks feel guilty or prejudiced for advocating for concerns relating to their own Black neighborhoods—as if Black concerns are not important. This is so ironic because the White media unapologetically projects what is good for the White community as ‘good for everyone.’ You know what they often say: He who owns the news controls the people. It is no secret who controls the media in America.

It is a blessing that we have a handful of African American community newspapers enabling us to tell our own story, giving us a sense of empowerment. However we must make a better effort at reading and subscribing to these newspapers. We must dictate to our community and the world what we are about—our dreams and hopes. We must tell of our achievements and accomplishments. We must tell of the positive things happening among our people on a daily basis and project to the world our greatness. Unfortunately in too many cases, our White counterparts are the primary supporters in buying ads that keep many of our Black newspapers afloat. This trend must be reversed. We must do better, because there is power in being able to read and write our own story. No one can better tell our true story than we ourselves.