No matter where you are, it seems that there is some source out there that will tell you that a black person has done something wrong. It can be a newspaper in the store or through word-of-mouth from a friend, relative or family member. At some point during the week, a black person somewhere will do something stupid, it will become big news somewhere or everywhere.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t hear about a crime or accident that happened, but it seems that when it comes to black folks, when we screw up, it most likely is seen as the only kind of news that matters.
In the past few weeks alone, there have been plenty of news in which delights the fancy of white racists. Black-on-white murders, famous black celebrities with drug problems, reported violence issues and anger management problems are circulating the mainstream news media.
What doesn’t move as much are news stories about young black geniuses, young black heroes/heroines, black celebrities who give back to their communities, black people who aren’t in positions of sports and entertainment, who aren’t poor, who aren’t stupid and who aren’t violent. In short, black people who don’t fit society’s mold of inferiority are given a brief notice or are not mentioned entirely. Why?
Black pathology is big business. This is the answer to the reason of the severe imbalance of black images in the media. It is also the theme of an article written by Ishmael Reed in 1989. The article states that in issues of drugs and crime in the news media, blacks were to blame despite information that illustrates that both problems are predominately caused by whites:
“Two-thirds of teenage mothers are white, two-thirds of welfare recipients are white and white youth commit most of the crime in this country. According to a recent survey, reported by the OaklandTribune, the typical crack addict is a middle-class white male in his 40s. Michele Norris of a has cited a study that dis- covered “no significant difference in the rate of drug use during pregnancy among women in the public clinics that serve a largely indigent population and those visiting private doctors who cater to upper-income patients.” Yet in the popular imagination blacks are blamed for all these activities, in the manner that the Jews took the rap for the Black Plague, even in countries with little or no Jewish population.”
There isn’t a huge difference between then and now. The “Blame the black man” campaign continues to be the answer for all things broken in this nation.
White racism, no matter who suffers from it, uses the media as “I told you so” moments of the dysfunctional nature it always links to that of the black community. It sees the criminal activity, whenever and wherever it erupts, as common within not only that particular area, but throughout the entire Black American Community which is seen as largely poor and run-down through the twisted imagination of whiteness.
Whenever a crime – a violent crime is reported, and the suspect is black, white racism will not only record it, especially if it’s on the internet, but it will also likely be shoved in the faces of other blacks. Anti-racist black people deal with those plagued by whiteness who interrogate them as if they had something to do with the crime, even if it’s hundreds of miles away. Whiteness then expects the Black American community at large to be held accountable for these individual incidences, because it sees all black people as the problem. And the media is loaded with whiteness.
White people, as one might expect, are seen with a more balanced lens. There are plenty of examples of positive white stories in the media, way more than some people realize. The media, for them, is almost like an anti-depressant drug that keeps them stimulated in a state of happiness while maintaining the double standard that whites are individuals while blacks are one, huge crooked monolith.
Many white folks see blacks as a monolith and sadly, some blacks, including yours truly, have the same vision problem. But to help remedy that, there must be more positive black images and stories. It is nothing short of fair to show the vast humanities and greatness of blackness that is lacking from the perspective of whiteness. Do these stories exist? Do such images exist? Yes on both counts, probably more so than we believe. They are out there. All one has to do is look. Unfortunately, as shown time and time again, you can’t expect those views to come from the mindset of whiteness.