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This article 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.”

Having 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.

In 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 a move.

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


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July 27, 2006
Issue 193

is published every Thursday.

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