originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice.
Much of what I hear, see, and read in Black media these days is an
insult to Black people. Entertaining to some, no doubt, but still
insulting. Knowing that very few positive messages are coming from
so-called “mainstream” media, you would think our Black media would
take up the slack and do more to uplift, enlighten, and educate
our people rather than acquiesce to the desires of those who control
the vast majority of the media outlets in this country.
You would think that, at the very minimum, Black owned and operated
media would make a firm commitment to smarten us up rather than
dumb us down with silly, meaningless, empty messages and images
that only capitulate to the status quo. You
would think… But, as Brother Glen Ford of Black Commentator once
chided me for wrongly assuming that Black-owned media are really
Black conscious media, and for suggesting we secure more of the
same, Black ain’t necessarily
Black, is it?
Like many of our Black politicians, much of our Black media
are really doing a job on us by keeping
a wide range of Black folks, especially our children and young adults,
uninformed, misinformed, and just plain dumb. Watch that (white-owned)
outlet we call Black Entertainment Television; listen to some of
the conversations on some of these so-called Black radio stations;
read some of the absolute junk in some of our pseudo-Black newspapers,
magazines, and websites. You will see that we are, as our elders
used to say, “Going out of the world backwards.”
been a guest on many radio shows, and a several television shows,
across the country, I can attest to the fact that there are media
hosts who do not fall into the dumbing-down category. I desperately
want to name them for you, but I know I will omit someone. If you
really want to change the messages going into your brain, you can
find them; it’s not that difficult to do.
One of the first things you can do is use your critical thinking
skills to determine the validity and usefulness of what you listen
to on these shows. Don’t just settle for the entertainment aspect.
As a conscious person, ask yourself what the benefit is to listening
or watching certain material. Remember: “Garbage in, garbage out.”
If we are getting a daily mega-dose of nonsense, of falsehoods,
of non-educational clap-trap and slap-stick, it’s no wonder we are
so far behind in serious aspects of economic empowerment. It’s no
wonder we seldom follow through with initiatives that will make
us stronger, as individuals and as a collective.
case you didn’t know, as Booker T. Washington once said, “There
are some Negroes who don’t want the patient to get well.” They want
us to remain psychologically crippled to keep us dancing to their
beat and buy what they are selling. They want us to keep on bobbing
our heads and shuffling our feet and
guffawing throughout the day, oblivious to our plight and totally
without a clue as to how to fix it. Thus, we get a barrage of jokes,
self-deprecating comedy, and exploitation on television. We are
on the receiving end of mindless “beats” that are pounded into our
brains by 1200 watt speakers in the backseats of our cars. We are
fed some of the most useless rhetoric, much of which is not even
factual, by brothers and sisters on the radio who obviously have
no idea what they are talking about. And, as we read our Black newspapers,
we are ensconced in a lifelong dream of hitting the number,
getting psychic readings, or checking our horoscopes before we make
Even in the spiritual marketplace, we are the subjects, or should
I say fodder, of hucksters who want to sell us God’s blessings,
as if they have cornered the market on His grace. It’s fascinating
that on Sunday mornings we can find a white “preacher” on BET selling
us a quarter-ounce vial of miracle water that will cure sickle-cell
disease, all for the low cost of $206.00. Of course, if you send
him more money, well, you know the deal.
Brothers and sisters, isn’t it bad enough that we are being dumbed-down
by white folks? Why do we except the same thing from our own people?
We must do better than that. Take politics. What do you think of
the statement attributed to the ex-footballer, Lynn Swann? “I certainly
believe that George W. Bush is the most qualified and most credible
candidate to fulfill the role as president of the United States.”
Now, I didn’t hear Swann say that, I just read that he said it.
But if he did say that, in light of what we have experienced over
the past five years from the Bushman, why should anyone, Blacks
especially, vote for Swann to be their governor?
We had better take stock of what is going on in this country, right
in our own backyards. There are Black folks who control media
outlets that do not operate in the best interests of Black people.
Why would you support them – in any way? They do not want us to
get well, nor do they care if we ever get well. The next time you
find yourself wasting your valuable time ingesting their mind-numbing
potion, remember this saying: "When the ax enters the forest,
the trees view the handle as one of their own." Just because
it’s Black on the outside, doesn’t mean it’s Black on the inside.
James Clingman is an Adjunct Professor, Univ. of Cincinnati,
Dept. of African American Studies on "Black Entrepreneurship."
He is the founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber
of Commerce, served as its first Executive Director and President.
Jim also writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column, Blackonomics,
circulated via the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Watch
for his column in your local newspaper. Jim also is the author of
numerous books including the new book, Black O Knowledge. Contact
him at P.O. Box 62642, Sharonville, OH 45262, (513) 489-4132 or
visit his website at blackonomics.com.