Media distort our images of blacks

The other night, I decided to relax and watch a movie, titled, “What Black Men Think,” a documentary meant to address the growing malaise affecting today’s African-American community. The movie was also meant to address the modern media’s negative stereotypical portrayal of America’s black males. The movie pointed out how malevolent the media has been in distorting the images of black men using sophisticated techniques and statistics.One of the first questions the movie asks is, “are there more black men in college or in jail?” The director asked what appeared to be hundreds of people from all walks of life this question and pretty much everyone interviewed shouted “in jail,” not only quickly, but also with much conviction (no pun intended). Even people from other countries who had never even been to America shouted, much too swiftly, “in jail.”Not only are there more black males in college than in jail, but depending on which data you use, the difference is about four to one. You see, the tacit implications often given by today’s media lend credence to the ever-growing notion that the majority of black men are rappers, criminals or athletes. What was truly disheartening was to see so many young black people shout “in jail” without so much as a second thought.Today’s media must recognize how malleable the general public tends to be, and it must become responsible enough to not only balance its coverage not only of black men but of Americans as a whole. I recognize that bad news sells, and it also feeds into our salacious tendencies and sometimes even makes us feel better about ourselves. We need to be wary of this negative imaging, because it may well turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If all young black people really believe that there are more black men in jail than in college, they tend to become less afraid of jail. The media, if it intends to make a real difference, ought to be more willing to present more positive images of American lifeMaybe we should all stop and smell the roses. In this community we have a number of positive black men. People like coach Victor C. Clark, who dedicated his time and money to assist inner-city youth through his various athletic programs. Men like Lane College President Dr. Wesley Cornelius McClure, who is instrumental in the education of a host of young men and transitioning them to be positive role models who won’t make the news. Men like attorney Nathan Pride, Councilman Johnny Dodd, Tony Black, Terry Smith and a host of preachers, teachers and others who do positive things on a daily basis with little or no recognition.

We have communities all over this country laden with positive men black and white willing to make a difference, yet the media’s primary focus is on gangsta-rappers and men like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who are interested in “monologue rather than dialogue.”

Many people (myself included) often ask why Jesse and Al don’t say anything about the series of homicides happening inside the black community? First, it is because there is no money to be made protesting black on black crime. Second, it is because the media controls them, not vice-versa. The major networks only call them when there is a black against white hot button issue that is controversial and will improve ratings. So before we get too comfortable blaming the Rev. Jackson and the Rev. Sharpton for fanning the flames of racial tension, let us bear in mind that they are only the puppets not the puppet masters. I personally doubt if either of them could get on television if they happened even to stumble upon a legitimate social cause with an agent.

“What Black Men Think” is a must-see for today’s young people being hoodwinked and bamboozled by the myths emanating from a race-conscious media. And while we as adults spend so much time harping on all of the dysfunctional garbage being spewed from the minds and mouths of our young people, when all is said and done we better wake up and realize that it may very well be us who created many of these modern day Frankensteins.

Daryl Hubbard is a resident of Jackson. He serves as court clerk for Jackson City Court. Write to him c/o The Jackson Sun, P.O. Box 1059, Jackson, TN 38302. Or send e-mail to opinions@jacksonsun.com.

Categories: PRESS
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