Jill Nelson, one of my favorite writers from Harlem, wrote an article called “The Audacity of Whiteness” in the Huffington Post highlighting a not so new problem in journalism. The lack of diversity in the media. She writes:
I know its bad form to mention race and upset the new post-racial apple cart, the one that doesn’t even have a black chauffer like the genial Hoke to drive Miss Daisy around. Nope, in this post-racial world Hoke’s been laid off or taken the buy-out.
In this brave new world the playing field’s level, Dr. King’s dream’s been realized, and it’s all about the meritocracy. Yet a look at the unbearably white American media reminds us that even with a black president little has changed in terms of who frames the issues.
She goes on to say:
…the failure of much of the media to recognize the words of the Negro National Anthem as the first words of Reverend Joseph Lowery’s benediction at the inauguration was truly pitiful. That, followed by the general incomprehension of the rhyme at the end of Lowery’s remarks — “When black will not be asked to get in back/When brown can stick around…” — and then its erroneous attribution by a CNN employee to a civil rights song, rather than rooted in African American folk and oral tradition and the dozens — a game of verbal insult and one-upmanship — made it impossible to maintain silence.
That “game of verbal insult” is exactly what Michael Steele challenged Barack Obama to when he asked “How do you like me now?” We noted the comment on our blog as did another Black blogger.
The New York Times missed the cultural reference, and they were barraged with e-mails letting them know.
While some say it was just a misquote, I believe it’s much more. There is not only a lack of understanding, but a lack of respect shown in the media for Black, Latino and other minority populations. As a result, blogs have become increasingly popular because of the diversity in the voices and alternative ideas presented.
While blogs are great, they are not the answer. The media needs to be held accountable and it is my hope that in the future more trained professional journalists continue to shed lights on these issues.
In America, it’s taken for granted, that because we all speak English that we speak the same language. That assumption is so far from the truth. It’s important for dialogue to continue to ensure that all voices are represented accurately and with respect.
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