The Dysfunction: Media and the Exploitation of African-Americans
A few nights ago, bored, tired and drained I decided to spend some down time television surfing. As I passed by several channels and shows I stopped at a reality program called “Atlanta Housewives.” I was drawn to the set by the number of African-American characters that were on the set. However, after a few minutes of watching I realized that the show was nothing more than a 21st century racist caricature of Black American life. I was shocked and disgusted by scantily clad, loud, hostile and over sexed Black vixens that are supposed to be representatives of Black womanhood in the United States. Upset at these images I switched to America’s longest standing Black network—BET. Well, I made perhaps a worse choice. BET showcased a process wearing crooner that made Little Richard’s hairstyle look natural while also featuring an ocean of zombie trance booty shaking women. All of this points to the fact of how many Americans and citizens of the world view African-Americans as dysfunctional human beings.
Every afternoon millions of Americans are glued to television sets to be entertained by the likes of Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, and Jeremy Kyle. The so-called informative shows that are advertised as “real” and serious discussions of “real” Americans, are nothing more than degenerated soap operas of the manipulation of underclass, uneducated, disjointed and mentally challenged Black Americans. The television audience is bombarded with chants; “I hate my baby’s daddy,” “She ain’t nothing but a ho,” “You nasty dog.” These are some of the more civil comments. In the meantime the mostly white audience is laughing and urging the misfits to become more belligerent.
The ones who are setting the table for such behavior are producers, media consultants and television hosts who are not Black, African-American, or identifiable Hispanic. Thus, Jerry Springer, Maury Povick, and Jeremy Kyle are exploiting the weak, while making millions of dollars highlighting the most marginalized and stereotypical Blacks that they can find for White television entertainment. Sadly, even so-called responsible host like Dr. Phil has got in on the action. Recently, he interviewed Terrence Owens (T.O), the professional football player, with four sexual mates who all have borne him children. Masquerading civility, Owen’s looked like a disjointed sexual buck while the ladies illustrated the stereotypical gold-digger whoremonger. Again—the image is displayed that African-Americans have few morals, no understanding of family life, and cannot commit to acceptable, responsible and decent long-term relationships. But, the problem is not only with the White media, but, also the Black community.
I remember the tragic day—September 11, 2001; the death of thousands at the hands of terrorist in New York City, Washington, D.C., and western Pennsylvania. Every major channel covered the story live as breaking news, except for BET, where on that network the producer featured music videos. The sublime message was that Black Americans are not interested in current affairs and significant events of the world. Now, let’s bring it to 2012.
In the United States there are serious and positive networks that represent various ethnicities. On these networks there are journalists who discuss major domestic and national events that affect the issues in their communities. For instance, Jewish-Americans produce the outstanding Shalom TV and Jewish News One networks; Arab-Americans have created the very informative al-Jazeera America network; Asian-Americans have AVS-TV; Brazilian-Americans are committed to Globo TV; American Catholic produces the very fine Global Catholic Television Network and most recently Hispanics in the United States is airing the 24 hour news network, Telemundo. In contrast Black America has boggle and bootie down BET and the struggling and feeble Oprah Winfrey Network. Without a definitive and serious communicative channel to feature issues and news of African-Americans, Africa and the African diaspora, the community lacks the information to make substantial decisions that affect their life and society. Simply put in two questions; do you know what is taking place with the African-American community in Cincinnati, Las Vegas or Dallas? What is it like to be a Black person in Brazil? Most could not begin to answer these questions. Why? No information network.
The African-American can eradicate the dysfunction that is show on the silver screen by simply not supporting shows that negate the positive images and heritage of Black Americans. Ask yourself, did Crispus Attucks, Richard Allen, Harriet Tubman, Mary Bethune, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King die for you to act like a buffoon on national television?
The Truth Teller
Dr. Vibert White