Sunday, May 25, 2008
The Mainstream Media and 'Race', not racism.

There are truly not enough ways to chronicle how much I hate the mainstream media. Yes, even the New York Times the so-called paper of record. In many ways the Times mirrors what I abhor about democratic policiticans, they talk a good one, they are somewhat better than their conservative counterparts, but they are still largely full of shit in most of the ways that matter. What I'm saying is, the New York Times is Obama. I'll have to explain why to you wanna-be lefties in another post (and I will), but I'll simply state here in spite of his rhetoric of change, nothing Obama is proposing to do is outside the realm of mainstream politics, and I think mainstream politics are very dangerous to the working class and to the planet.

But anyway, the New York Times ran a series of articles 8 years ago, that I thought were really interesting then, and as I rediscovered them, I think recent events make them relevant all over again. The series was called How Race is Lived in America.

The flaws in the series are the typical mainstream liberal flaws, they tell you the story is about 'race' instead of 'racism' (it just makes you feel better that way doesn't it?). When they do discuss racism, it is never called that by name, and it is only addressed when it appears in the form of personal bigotry (wouldn't wanna be calling American institutions racist now would we?). Fittingly, after all of these ciruitous tactics are employed, and both sides of the story are told, the author does, ever so subtly, lead you to his liberal conclusion; which of course isn't that far off from the conservative conclusion. In fact, I'm beginning to realize that what often seperates liberals from conservatives, aside from liberals having more braincells, is nuance. Here, the Times illustrates this in its description of the series:


Two generations after the end of legal discrimination, race still ignites political debates..but the wider public discussion of race relations seems muted by a full-employment economy and by a sense, particularly among many whites, that the time of large social remedies is past.

I guess when you frame discussions about race (again, not racism), on a 'full employment economy ' and the perception among many whites that society has adequately addressed the problem, I shouldnt set my hopes too high. They might as well say: We (white people) are enjoying the economy and really dont know why minorities keep bringing up all of this this stuff up because like, didn't we already fix this whole race thing in the 60s? Nearly a half century later and liberals insist on remaining utterly clueless about racism. Did it not aoccur to the writer that, unemployment for black people has perennially been at least double that of whites? The only full employment economy we've ever enjoyed came with a whip.

Is it any wonder most Americans (read: white people) tend to be so delusional when it comes to racism? I happen to think that most Americans need to be spoken to about racism in ways that shatter the erroneous beliefs they've grown accustomed to and while I dont think this series does that, I do think it provides more insight and nuance, than is typical for mainstream reporting on a touchy topic.

There is the article about race and running political office:
When a reporter describes Mr. Sims [an African-American] as angry in a public debate, he will challenge the characterization. "That's code," he said. "A black man who is angry is a lethal label in politics."
The article is titled: "When to Campaign with Color?" My Answer: When you're not black.
I recently read about Obama being Mr. Cool? I'd suggest his coolness is largely because he has no alternative.

There is the piece about race in the NYPD which causes one to revisit the Sean Bell case:

the good:
Dark-skinned undercovers are touchy about racial profiling because most, including Detective Gonzalez, say that when off duty, in their neighborhoods or out driving, they have been targets of white officers. One undercover, Tyrone, says that while driving home from work to Brooklyn he gets stopped an average of one night a week.

Derrick and Rob didn't bother explaining to that plainclothes cop that they, too, were cops. They just shook their heads and waited until he left. "You know it's because we're black," Derrick said.
How do police apologists reconcile the fact that even black and brown Police Officers claim that the NYPD routinely uses racist tactics?

The bad:
The biggest police race case in New York City in years, Diallo -- the 1998 killing of a black man standing in the doorway of his Bronx building by four panicky [emphasis mine] white policemen --
Interestingly enough, large black man that I am, in the 90's I had many encounters with the notorious Street Crimes Unit that murdered Amadou Diallo, and those encounters mostly consisted of stop and frisks that violated my rights without even the pretense of civility or legality. So if by panicky, they mean overly aggressive, cowboy cops, then I'd say we are on the same page.

Lastly there is the piece Called "Who gets to tell a black story?" For fans of the Wire, this is a must read, as it describes the racial politics behind the production of "The Corner" mini-series which was essentially "The Wire" prequel. Writer David Simon and Director Charles S. Dutton have some interesting experiences.

"There isn't a single black person in Hollywood with any power," [Dutton] said last fall. "This isn't paranoia. Because if I stood in a room with every major black star, just talking, then I would hear the same things out of their mouths that are coming out of mine. Multimillionaires. The main thing you'll hear is, 'Whenever I take a project, I can't get it done unless I have a white partner.'
If anyone has seen American Gangster, they realize that Hollywood's racial politics ruined what should have been a classic ganster flick. They didn't want to spend all of that money making a 'black' movie so they make the movie about the black ganster and the white cop. Thanks for the yarn. Hollywoood has a long history of doing this, Cry Freedom comes to mind, a movie ostensibly about South African freedom fighter, Steven Biko (played exceptionally by Denzel), that was actually more about a white journalist who befriended him. I could go on forever, Hollywood is racist, thats no surprise, but this particular article gave me a new found respect for Charles S. Dutton and his fight for black folks on and off the screen.


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5 Comments:
Anonymous Jessie said...
Nice post. Excellent discussion of cops and the mainstream media presentation of 'race,' rather than 'racism.' I love Charles Dutton and "The Corner" was pure genius.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
When dealing with Mainstream media everything has to be "dummied down" and simplified. It is like radio friendly music versus album cuts. To reach the masses sometimes the vague sugarcoat route is the way to go. People are easily offended and how something is presented or said is everything. I know that in your film that is not you but is it true that you spent a lot of time in the streets on the darkside??

Blogger Kai said...
Thanks Jessie.
Anonymous,
I have to disagree strongly with the notion that things have to be dumbed down in the news or music. News should report the truth and music should be an honest artistic expression. I dont think sugarcoating is ever the way to go.

I wont say I spent alot of time in the streets on the darkside, I grew up in the ghetto, and I was over-exposed to the dark side.

Anonymous regine said...
Thank you, thank you...finally a blog I can read that challenges me to think critically..about everything..including the contemporary slavery which in many ways we indirectly(and directly - yikes!!!) support and about the race - blaxploitation in raw form...(u seriously need to turn your postings into a book!! it's sorely needed - esp for the youth!)

Blogger Kai said...
Regine stop gassing me!!!! lol!!!
I'm glad you appreciate it though.

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