We have some house cleaning to do (part 3)

September 8, 2014

Rahim Islam is a National Speaker and Writer, Convener of Philadelphia Community of Leaders, and President/CEO of Universal Companies, a community development and education management company headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. Follow Rahim Islam on FaceBook(Rahim Islam) & Twitter (@RahimIslamUC)

How is it that when you describe anything bad it usually has the word “black” in it (there are nearly 200 negative black connotations used on a daily basis)? There are so many issues we must contend with two areas that we must purposely change: education and media portrayal.
Blacks have grown to understand that the best recourse to overcoming our plight is education. Nelson Mandela stated that education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. The question we never ask is: What types of education is Mr. Mandela talking about? I believe the education he is referring to is education that produces outcomes that can been seen (self­ determination). Carter Woodson stated that to handicap a student for life you teach him that his Black skin is a curse and his struggle to change his condition is hopeless. It’s the worst kind of lynching. With the explosion of Black college graduates over the past fifty years, our outcomes appear more perverse and I know why. What Mr. Woodson stated also rings true if you’re not taught about who you are and I would argue that many of our accomplished scholars haven’t. In fact, a recent study showed that the average Ph.D. will receive nearly 25 years of formal study but for Blacks less than 7 percent actually focuses on themselves. So while we have become more learned, what we’ve learned has been about other people and not ourselves. This is why our educational accomplishments haven’t produced the type of self­ determination envisioned by Mr. Mandela.
The physiological, emotional, and social scars are reinforced by the media through continuous stereotypes that support Black prejudice, discrimination, bias and represent the main source of our education. W. E. Dubois stated, “”In propaganda against the Negro since emancipation in this land, we face one of the most stupendous efforts the world ever saw to discredit human beings, an effort involving universities, history, science, social life and religion.”
Our problem is that not only is this happening but the average Black and White person doesn’t believe in the power of the media. The media and big business are one because one can’t function without the other. The media is capitalized by business through the purchase of advertisement. Radio, newspapers, and television can’t survive without a serious connection to the business community. The media defines who our leaders are so if a Black leader goes against mainstream America, the media will vilify them and in many cases initiate their downfall which ultimately will lead to criminal investigations and prison. The media defines who our heroes are and they have made our heroes to be entertainers or athletes. That wouldn’t be all bad if the current crop of entertainers and athletes didn’t hold Black “conscious” values. If you think I’m wrong, asked a Black child who their role model is and what do they want to be when they grow up.
The media has also significantly shaped and advanced the assimilation of the Black upper and “so-called” middle class so that our most economically mobile is unable and unwilling to see itself as a part of the Black group. There are so many disparities between the Black and White middle class, with a little study, you see there is no comparison but the media portrays the socio­economic issue as a class issue. A recent study showed that the average White middle class person has more than $120,000 cash in the bank where the average Black middle class person has less than $10,000 cash in the bank (there are so many more). Our Black upper class has completely abandoned our community because they don’t feel the day-­to-­day Black pain anymore. In fact, the media has so sullied our community that “getting out” is the message and mantra with which we all have been brainwashed. We now have too many Black people believing that our people don’t or won’t work hard. “Why don’t they (Black people) just pull up their bootstraps” and we have to “get over our past.” “I made it why can’t they?” The media promotes these very few successes to appear more than they are. The fact is that nearly 70 percent of Black people are at or near poverty with a good portion of the other 30 percent not financially in control of their destiny (the 70 percent is growing and the 30 percent is decreasing).
We must do some house cleaning, which truly requires that we begin to educate ourselves and recognize the pain that we suffer and, given what we’re up against in this country, it’s understandable. In fact, not to acknowledge our pain is in a direct way an acceptance of Black inferiority and the belief that we are not human. In spite of all of these issues, we can make a difference and change what is happening to us but it will require us to act as sober adults and help rebuild the Black media.
We must come to understand the role of Black media which requires our support, or we will look up one day and not have the capacity to challenge and/or correct the negative propaganda being waged against the Black community. We won’t have a voice.
Black media (newspapers and radio) is our voice and around the country every one of them is struggling to stay in business, like all newspapers, from the impact of the internet. In addition, Black newspapers and radio suffer from a structurally racist environment where if White companies advertise at all with Black media, they don’t pay the prevailing market rates; we are discounted. This is exacerbated by the fact that our Black business community is extremely weak and unable to fully support the advertising revenue of our Black newspapers and radio. Black music has been hijacked by a completely negative, degrading, self-­hating, and pornographic mind and our community has allowed it.
In Black TV, we just experienced a shameful milestone in the history of U.S. media and no one noticed. There are now zero black ­owned and operated full­ power TV stations in our country down from 18 in 2006. Blacks watch TV more than any other group in America and are the primary source for information. Over the past few years, thousands of hours of TV and movie content was produced (most of this content carries all of the propaganda discussed above) with less than seven hundred (700) considered having a “Black” focus. Unfortunately, this is just not enough to counter the otherwise overwhelmingly negative messages because even when content is produced for Blacks, nearly two­-thirds contain negative images as well (i.e. Maury, Jerry Springer, Atlanta Housewives, Judge Mathis, Alex, Joe Brown, Hatchett, Karen, Divorce Court, Peoples Court, Paternity Court, Love and Hip Hop, Basketball Wives, Preachers of LA, etc.).
Brothers and sisters we must begin to clean our own houses, which means that we must call everyone out that is doing harm to our community. We’re quick to attack a White person or organization, but some of our own are doing things that continue to promote Black inferiority and their actions damage our collective efforts. While we are trying to figure out how to combat this, we must support positive Black events and activities (they will help to build and restore Black pride) and we must support our Black newspapers and Black radio now!!