Socially Speaking's Blog
The Other Side of the Tracks blog by Word Press

Never Failing to Find Failure

The weekly socio-political commentary from activist, Perry Redd

The weekly socio-political commentary from activist, Perry Redd

I’ve been admonishing the “public” in National Public Radio for a long time.  As a national vehicle, the premise of a straight-forward news reporting entity for the entire nation is a grand idea.  Being supported by public dollars is also icing on the cake.  Unfortunately, both premises are a fallacy when it comes to NPR.  When it comes to Black Americans, NPR is a lock to find failure.

On the opening business day of Black History Month, I can only imagine NPR chose to highlight stories specifically relating to, and possibly targeting, Black Americans.  The three consecutive stories were horridly negative—no matter the spin put on them,

One was on the documentary “America’s Promise” where two Black boys attended the same affluent private school and one, in particular, loses his identity as a Black boy.  The next highlighted a film on the racist jazz scene of the 1930’s that whitewashes the truth about racism and the famed Cotton Club.  The third was about the case of a dead Black teen at the hands of yet another scared white male who is using the infamous “stand your ground” defense in, among all places, Florida.

I continued to listen to the entire two hour broadcast, and as if on cue, NPR blasted across America’s airwaves story after story of white entrepreneurs, overcomers and visionaries. I’ve been saying for the longest that something is terribly wrong with this picture, but for whatever reason, it keeps getting painted.  One story was about the re-election of New Orleans’ first white mayor in 40 years, another about a 102 year old Frenchman who set a cycling record and “what’s good for baby camels is good for human skin.”  Even the story of a drug overdosed actor received kid-glove treatment!

Now, for white people, they respond to my complaint, “What’s the problem? That’s America.”   I retort, that is the problem.  Not the stories themselves, but the content of the stories that’re aired.  There’s more to being Black in America than hard times and suffering at the hands of white people.  Don’t get me wrong, there definitely needs to be place and time for those stories, but damn, three consecutive tales of woe and despair.  And if so, then what is that saying about white Americans?

In none of the stories were the value systems of whites indicted.  Even the story about the George Zimmerman-like shooting of an unarmed teen made the white murderer out to be the victim…go figure?

I went back and listened to the story about the film “After Midnight.”  The movie was created to shine a spotlight on the flash, creativity and glamour of The Cotton Club in the heyday of the jazz/swing genre.  Unfortunately, the creators also intentionally nullified the challenges of a racist country experienced by performing greats like W.C Handy and Cab Calloway.  Telling our story without inclusion of reality is a dangerous premise.  Our progeny will be cheated when they watch the film.  It is detrimental to the evolution of American history when the antagonists are left with white hats.

In all fairness, the NPR story did address that to a small degree, but that omission in and of itself disqualifies the movie from gaining a national platform—simply for weakness in its production.  Why would NPR choose to shine a light on that movie? Understand that NPR will not follow that train of thought.  Why, you ask?  Simply because NPR won’t allow whites to be degraded, vilified nor exposed unless they’re Adolf Hitler.

So that brings me to this point: we have to not only discontinue giving ear to mainstream outlets labeling themselves objective, but create our own venues of subjective media programming.  The takeover of the American airwaves by ClearChannel was the death knell in our need to be informed by our own.  Clear, concise, researched and professional intellectual radio media programming—targeted toward Blacks—is a perennial dinosaur.  With the avenues of information cut off, the minds at the endroads are starved.  Like Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, there is a blockade on our intellect. Our fellow Americans—white Americans—conduct these race-neutral assaults on our history, narrative and purpose.

I want you to be on alert and informed during this Black History Month.  It is imperative that we speak forcefully true whenever these incidences occur.  There is an active war on us—a war of cultures, ideas and values.  That is not to say that there are places where we—Black and white—can converge and meld together; but there are also places of distinct and precise difference.  Those differences need not be disrespected, belittled nor degraded.

They also need not be veiled by the one with the most resources.  With the grand collective failure by those who established this country, we don’t need anyone to go seeking our failures, especially when they are not of our making. Those are lines drawn in the sand.  Where is your line?


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