THE IRONIC MEDIA 'BLACK OUT' WHILE A "BLACK" MAN RUNS
America has always been a peculiar place to live for a thinking person. For instance, it purports to be a democracy, yet it was built on a particularly cruel brand of slavery, oppression and genocide. Chapter Four of its Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal. Yet, women are not mentioned at all, and black people – at its inception – were deemed to be less than human. I realize that at this point in history, many view these as resolved issues, better left in the past. Even at present day, the United States is still a peculiar place to live for a thinking person. For example, currently, Barack Obama, a man with a black African father is running for president of the United States. This is occurring while the American media is still severely racist.
While a "black" Obama is running for president, African American perspectives on this issue have been all but absent from prime-time television. Logically, blacks would be increasingly intrigued by Obama's campaign, especially after his Iowa win! Yet, black voices have rarely been among the popular pundit discussions that followed. It is true that on a daily basis we can observe black news anchors delivering scripted coverage on the election. The likes of Anderson Cooper, Larry King and Dan Rather, for example, have voices NOT determined by a script. These high profile white male icons can and do articulate their spin on political issues during their own popular television shows. What black person in America can say the same? Not one.
Let's face it! Free, self-determined, unscripted speech, during prime-time television hours is not had by black people in America. Prime time is 6:00 to10:00 p.m. in Eastern and Pacific time zones and 7:00 - 11:00 p.m., in the Central and Mountain time zones. These times zones represent when television networks, such as ABC, CBS, NBC or CNN, have the most viewers. For example, Tavis Smiley's show is broadcast around or after midnight on PBS. The prime-time media and news reporting landscape where non-scripted speech can occur is still exceedingly white, and this has always been true. But the fact that Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama—a man with a black African father—has forged a viable presidential campaign makes this fact particularly ironic. Particularly to those that think.
There are no people of black/African American descent who are long-term fixtures in prime-time media with the privilege of free, impromptu expression. The last black person to literally take that license was rapper Kanye West in 2005. West was being urged by NBC to read a scripted commentary for a Hurricane Katrina fundraiser. Instead, he displayed rarely seen black male courage and blurted, "[President] George Bush doesn't care about black people!" The following day, the same 95% white panel of pundits, from CNN to all the major television affiliates, made attempts at strategically downplaying this historically unusual (and embarrassing) occurrence.
For Black History Month, and directly after Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday last month, I reflect on what the anniversary of this era really means.
In my adult life, I must admit, I haven’t been all that diligent about celebrating the life of the great Rev. Dr. King. As a child, my parents made it a practice that we do something as a family to pay homage to the life of a great person who sacrificed his life for our sake. Whether we went to a community event or held one at home, we always did something because they felt it was important, no…imperative that we acknowledge; that we not forget and not take for granted what Rev. Dr. King had done for us all.
Today I reflect on what the good Rev. Dr. King has done for me and I only cursorily think of the many marches and protests, the days and nights he spent in jail, the countless meals with his children that he missed advocating on behalf of families in peril and the plethora of articulate speeches that he made in front of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people. These things, I admit, are amazing things.
I find myself mostly in awe of this man’s capacity to give, care, and love. I wonder how many sleepless nights he spent pained at the anguish others felt and needing to do something to alleviate it. I marvel at the strength of his faith, the knowledge he held that if he simply took action, it would matter enough. Somehow, he didn’t let the enormity of the problems he battled paralyze him. I admire, maybe more than anything, that he allowed his purpose to propel him forward, in spite of any fears he may have had, knowing that what he stood for, what he believed in, meant so much more than whatever he may have feared.
During this time, now 40 years after his assassination, I pray we have not come too far to remember the immense love that lived at the depths of Rev. Dr. King's heart; the true essence of AGAPE love that he wished for to the end to our suffering and the lasting of our unity and joy. In the mainstream propaganda and publicity around this man, too often is lost the message that lay at the heart of what his actions all truly displayed. And I don’t mean his efforts to end racial segregation in the south.
I see your tears run down your face In your reflection in the window Though your back is turned to me
And you wonder Like I wonder How it all came down to this It started, Dear Heart, with a kiss
A gentle touching of our lips and you were hooked you just knew And you had to have another & another and received such as our love grew
And these led to great times of sunshine and of rain Of joy of the inner Woman and the heartache of love’s pain
Then led to this time This place
Where we must decide if we are to go on or let go of this love of a lifetime
And you wonder Like I wonder How it all came down to this It started Dear Heart With a kiss…
Stan Stewart is a true Renaissance Man. He is an Actor, a Motivational Speaker, and a Poet/Spoken Word Artist. He has performed in Principal roles on critically acclaimed television programs and movies such as HBO’s The Wire, NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Streets, and the HBO movie, Something the Lord Made. His accomplishments include academic honors and community service awards, award-winning recognition as a motivational speaker, and selection for honors such as DC Poet Delores Kendrick’s “Poets In Progress” program. He also serves as a rotating National News anchor for the Department of Veterans Affairs program VA News. Most recently, he published his first book of poetry One Out of Darkness: Poems of a DC Brother. He and his family reside in Silver Spring, Maryland.
"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, they make them." -- George Bernard Shaw
Dancing With The Devil
by Taylor Siluwé
SHORT STORY FICTION / EROTICA TO PREVIEW, CLICK ON THE IMAGE AND/OR PURCHASE FOR $11.99
More Than Mortar and Stone: The Meandering Mental Path of a Brokenhearted Woman
by Fisiwe MEMOIRS AND POEMSTO PREVIEW, CLICK ON THE IMAGE AND/OR PURCHASE FOR $6.99
My Ancestors Traveled Them Home
by Chuma MEMOIRS AND POEMSTO PREVIEW, CLICK ON THE IMAGE AND/OR PURCHASE FOR $5.99
A SOCIO-ANTHROPOLOGICAL CROSS GENRE THESIS DEALING WITH RACE, CLASS, AND GENDER
COREY delivers a defly written post entitled Audacity of Change regarding his feelings about Obama becoming our president. Check it out at his blog, I'll Keep You Posted.
December 17, 2008
QIANA MARTIN, DREAM FULFILLER
One of the most thoughtful and spiritually grounded people I know, Qiana Martin took a risk and jumped on an opportunity to go to Brazil to fulfill a dream many would be fearful to try. In these profoundly dreary economic times, quitting a job at a prestigious law firm to pursue a passion is rare and courageous. Read her story here.
December 16, 2008
MARCOS LUIS, THE ART OF GIVING
My buddy, Marcos Luis, runs an Open Mic Showcase in Alphabet City, and he's being featured in an online blog called NewYorkNightsOnline.com. He's a really special person who wants nothing but to give back to the artistic community. Check out the article here.
December 8, 2008
CLEO MANAGO, LEADING MAN
Acitivist, Cleo Manago is honored as a 2008 Leading Man in Instinct Magazine.
Odetta, the singer whose deep voice wove together the strongest songs of American folk music and became an accompaniment to the black-and-white images of the freedom marchers who walked the roads of Alabama and Mississippi and the boulevards of Washington in quest of an end to racial discrimination, died on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008 at the age of 77. Read more.