“Maybe one of you educated black people can answer a question for me. All the blacks that I know cant. How can black people have BET tv, black emmies, 100 blacks in law enforcement, etc, and this not be considered racist. But if I had WET tv or whites magazine I would have rev al and all the other clowns knocking on my door. If I felt theatened could I legally shoot them.” – a poorly thought out comment from Adolph
“hey brother peace, you still did not answer my question. Hoe come you can have the white emmies, 100 blcks in law enforcement, and ebony magazine and that not be considered racist. You will not answer my question because you are scared of the answer. The bottom line is is that you are a bigot. The only thing that people like you do is drive the wedge between black and white deeper. So much for freedom of speech,” – Adolph’s follow up comment, just as thoughtless as the first.
The ratio of television networks, cable networks, movie studios, magazines, books, newspapers, and etcetera that are targeted to the informational and entertainment interest of a predominantly white culture far exceeds the relatively small number that targets the black community. Magazines like Ebony and Jet and the cable channel Black Entertainment Television (BET) are hardly sources of information for truly conscious black people. Black magazines and books that focus the majority of their media to such trivialities as the latest fashion in clothing, the latest trend in hairstyles, or the hottest singers/actors in Hollywood or wherever cannot seriously be considered some kind of benefit to the black community. And as far as the modern day minstrel BET goes, I’d rather watch the FOX news network. I can’t stand to see so many black people bending over backwards trying to keep black people distracted from the real issues of concern to the black community. BET is no benefit to the black community.
Adolph and people who think, or more accurately don’t think, like him have been the target of a plethora of magazines, movies, networks, and such. How many television shows have there been that featured an all white cast with an all white production crew with all white writers and all white producers? Now, how many television shows have there been with an all black cast and an all black production crew and an all black writers? I would have to say none.
How many black people appeared on such notables as Friends, Frasier, Cheers, Wings, Andy Griffith, Suddenly Susan, Two and a Half Men, Sex in the City, My Three Sons, Leave It to Beaver, Alice, Bionic Woman, Six Million Dollar Man, Sarah Conner Chronicles, This Old House, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Yankee Workshop, Happy Days, Lavern and Shirley, the Lucy Show, I Love Lucy, MASH, Desperate Housewives, Dallas, Falcon Crest, Charlie’s Angels, Hotel, Dan Tanna, Monk, Laughlin, Just Shoot Me, the Golden Girls, the Brady Bunch, Seventh Heaven, Smallville, Dukes of Hazzard, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, the Lone Ranger, Trading Spaces, Ghost Hunters, Xena: Warrior Princess, Malcolm In the Middle, One Tree Hill, Degrassi, General Hospital, One Life to Live, Blog Cabin, the Beverly Hillbillies, Hee Haw, Breaking Bad, the Honeymooners, the Addams Family, the Munsters, the Patty Duke Show, Father Knows Best, the Danny Thomas Show, the Dick Van Dyke Show, Rhoda, Maude, the Mary Tyler Moore Show, That Girl, Mary Hartman, Soap, Dead Like Me, The Rifleman, The Sopranos, Will and Grace, Mad About You, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, the Flying Nun, Dream Car Garage, the Hulk, The Hills, Baywatch, Dawson’s Creek, Twin Peaks, Ryan’s Hope, Gomer Pyle, Mayberry RFD, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Imus In the Morning, JAG, Beverly Hills 90210, Simon and Simon, Murder She Wrote, Remington Steele, Moonlighting, Sybil Shepherd Show, Murphy Brown, That 70’s Show, The Nanny, anything with Bob Vila, Dharma and Greg, Charmed, the Gene Autry Show, Mama’s Family, Crossing Jordan, Family Ties, Matlock, Numbers, Nash Bridges, Caroline In the City, Boy Meets World, Melrose Place, Home Improvement, Dark Angel, Profiler, Gilligan’s Island, Get Smart, Unhitched, The X Files, Roseanne, Green Acres, McMillan and Wife, Heck Ramsey, Valerie, One Day At a Time, Seinfeld, Daniel Boone, Medium, King of Queens, Dynasty, the Love Boat, and so many more. Many of these shows didn’t have a single black actor, some only have one black actor,
How many magazines are there for white people? Let’s see…there’s Glamour, Elle, Mademoiselle, Us, Cosmopolitan, In Style, Sunset, Lifestyle, In Touch, American Cowboy, American Spectator, American Cattlemen, Allure, Another Magazine, Bridal Guide, Brides, City, Elegant Bride, Guns and Ammo, Adventure Kayak, American Angler, American Handgunner, American Snowmobiler, American Cheerleader, Archery Business, ATV Magazine, ATV Rider, ATV Sport, Back Country, Bassin’, Black Power Guns and Hunting, Bluff Magazine, Boating, Bow and Arrow Hunting, Bow Hunter, Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine, Canoe and Kayak, Dirt Rider, Field and Stream, Fish and Fly, Golf Digest, Gun Dog, Hunt Club Digest, Deer and Deer Hunting, Southern Living, AmericanStyle, Backpacker, Budget Travel, Seventeen, Boy’s Life, Cosmo Girl, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Garden, Teen Vogue, People, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, Everyday With Rachel Ray, In Touch Weekly, Reader’s Digest, Redbook, Spin, Star, Us, Today’s Christian Woman, Christianity Today, At Home With Our Faith, End Time, America’s Civil War, Martha Stewart’s Living, Martha Stewart’s Weddings, World War II Magazine, Maxim, Women’s World, Lucky, Outdoor Life, American Girl, W, Good Old Days, Military Heritage, Barrons, Men’s Health, Popular Science, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Esquire Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar Magazine, Marie Claire, Town and Country, Taste of the South, Robb Report, and so many more. But people like Adolph are worried about Ebony and Jet.
White people have a variety of mediums that are focused on their interest and entertainment. And not a single one has been visited by Reverend Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, or anybody else. But the very idea of a black focus magazine or a single cable network comes out as too raw for people who think the black community is getting too uppity. Black people are bigots and white people are the victims of black people’s unfairness. Obviously, the black community is just way too unfair to white people. It would be much fairer if black people didn’t have anything to look at. That would make so much sense to people like Adolph. Can’t have bigots going around accusing people in the black community of being bigots.
It has been twenty five years since the release of the epic Michael Jackson album Thriller. Hot off of the success of his first album Off The Wall, produced with the help of Quincy Jones, Thriller didn’t just break but demolished all kinds of record sales records. No album or CD has been able to even come close to the phenomenon that Thriller was. And the way CD sales are dwindling down no album ever will.
Michael Jackson’s Thriller was the first song by a black artist to be played on the video music channel MTV. Prior to this, Michael Jackson was told that he need not apply. MTV was going in a different direction and Michael Jackson wasn’t exactly what the executives in charge of MTV had in mind for their image. Prior to the release of Thriller, MTV had never featured a black music artist. The year was 1983. It’s not like black people weren’t making decent music at the time. At this time, Stevie Wonder had just released one of his greatest pieces of work, Hotter Than July. Roger Trottman, The Time, and Price were considered the fresh sound in music. The OJays, the Whispers, and the soulful sound of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes were old school. Black musical artist were popping out of the woodwork. But MTV had an image where black people need not apply. The J Giles Band can sing about Angel’s Being a Centerfold and David Lee Roth can sing about the fact that He Ain’t Got Nobody, but black people were about as welcome as a church lady in a social club in the big easy. And people were okay with this.
However, Michael Jackson wasn’t okay with it. He wasn’t going to let the rather narrow minded bigots stand in the way of him becoming the first black person to break these pointless racial ceilings. Mr. Jackson worked to make Thriller, the song, the video, and the album, a phenomenon that MTV could not ignore. He succeeded with phenomena to spare. Billy Jean was the first single off that album. The song was such genius that so many women were so convinced that they were the fictitious Billy Jean that Mr. Jackson had to hire a law firm just to deny their allegations in various courtrooms. This was followed by Human Nature, Pretty Young Thing, The Way You Make Me Feel, and the phenomenal Thriller. The video created a new standard for the execution of videos. Michael Jackson had succeeded.
Since then MTV has changed its tune and now features black artist regularly. Twenty five years later this music channel could easily be considered a front and center player in the consistent portrayal of the gangsta rap culture that has become so heavily intertwined into the black community. Programs like Pimp My Ride are regular features. The last time I actually bothered to watch an MTV program was My Super Sweet 16 featuring Darnell Robinson, the young teenage son of Sugar Hill Studios executive Leland Robinson. The conspicuous consumption of money and luxury and lavishness was the only thing the show had to offer viewers. And the number of people who promote a gangsta rap star lifestyle with gold chains and diamonds, fine automobiles, houses big enough to be Hilton hotels, while wearing oversized T shirts and sagging jeans grows nearly every time MTV Cribs makes a new show.
It’s a sucker bet that the black people who are featured as part of these ostentatious display of pseudo urban style materialism usually featured in some wealthy suburb are thankful to Michael Jackson for his part in breaking the MTV color barrier. But how did the black community benefit from the elimination of this color barrier? MTV has evolved over the years from excluding black people entirely to exploiting only a narrow image of black urban music to perpetuate black, stereotypical images. MTV has evolved from a white controlled corporate entity saying nothing good is worth showing out of the black community into a white controlled corporate entity saying nothing good is all that’s worth seeing out of the black community. Either way MTV does its fair share of damage to the image of the black urban community.
Too many of our black children and impressionable young black adults want to emulate the lifestyles of black urban success being promoted to them. Too many people don’t realize that all too often the images and characters they see being paraded on television on mediums like MTV are just caricatures and parodies of black people. Too often young people want to become the images they see. And then, in the biggest irony of all, we will turn around and blame these impressionable people for wanting to become the images that they see on television.
No one is trying to say that Michael Jackson or some other black person should not have broken through the barriers that kept black people from appearing on MTV. But all too often when the black community opens itself up to opportunities of integration with components of American culture that are obviously intended to exclude black people, we may not be too happy with the results. Mr. Jackson and Quincy Jones and others could have banded together to launch their own music channel. But instead of thinking grand and independent our black celebrities think more along the lines of integration and assimilation. But then again, if BET is any indication, the assimilation would come regardless. If money is involved, it looks like the black community is destined to lose.
Today is Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior’s seventy ninth birthday. Just in time for the latest political spat between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It seems that Ms. Clinton is being taken to task because she had the audacity to suggest that Doctor King’s dream for a united America started to become real when President Lydon Baines Johnson signed into law the laws driven by the civil rights movement. Mr. Obama says that he didn’t say anything about Ms. Clinton’s ill advised comment. He admits that he thought that her comment was in poor taste. However, he never said that her comment was in poor taste. And then to top this off, Robert Johnson, the billionaire founder of the modern minstrel channel Black Entertainment Television, is coming out swinging at Barack Obama and making poorly veiled innuendos to Mr. Obama’s rather embarrassing exuberance of a younger time. It is a racial melee that is sure to get nastier as more Democratic primaries and caucuses come closer.
For many people, Dr. King is the very epitome of the black community’s struggle for civil rights. He is very symbolic. But let’s keep things in perspective. A lot of people worked to put civil rights into law. A lot of people put their very lives on the line to get civil rights implemented. A lot of people paid with their lives to do what they could to get civil rights implemented. The vast majority of people who made these sacrifices were black people. But some white people made sacrifices as well, for whatever reason they may have had. These people sat in at food counters that refused to provide them service while people from the white community assaulted the protestors verbally and physically. Protestors were assaulted and then, to add insult to their injury, arrested for their peaceful demonstration. Medgar Evers was killed in his driveway as a cowardly Byron De La Beckwith shot him from the shadows. Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to relinquish her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama and sparked the movement. Many black people were assaulted with police dogs, sprayed with fire hoses, beaten with police batons, and punished for being the kind of uppity niggers that would have the audacity to believe that they had the same value as white people. Little black girls were blown up in churches. People helping the black community register to vote were pulled over by the local sheriff and disappeared only to have their bodies found floating in the river days later.
Through this struggle, gangs of white people worked to keep the status quo and protect white privilege and fought to continue the subjugation of black people. Amazingly, many people with a white mindset today mimic this behavior of their white elders and segregationist ancestors. I don’t know of any white people who lost their lives on a dark two lane road because they were working hard to protect white privilege. I don’t know of many white people who were hanged from trees for fighting to keep black people subjugated. I don’t know of any white people who protested in quiet dignity and with great courage by crossing the racial divide and going into the black community to demand that white privilege be protected while black people assaulted them verbally and physically. White people didn’t have the police beating them with clubs and batons for fighting for the continuation of inequality and racial disparity. But so many people who fought for the black community were tortured and were killed at the hands of white people for what they believed in. Yet propaganda teaches us that blacks are more violent.
Although he was a significant figure head for change on behalf of the black community Doctor King did not do it alone. If he were alive today I don’t believe Doctor King would beat his chest and say that he was responsible in bringing civil rights laws to the America’s legal books. I would like to believe that genuine humility would keep the civil rights symbol from minimizing the efforts and contributions of so many people. He was not the singularity of the civil rights movement. The unity of the black community was that singularity.
Whatever civil rights laws exist today, watered down as they may be with claims of reverse discrimination and special treatment for minorities and unfair treatment for white people because the white community is obviously suffering from racial discrimination when compared to its black counterpart, would not have gotten on the books without significant help from politicians. Unfortunately, during this period in America’s history, there were no black politicians at the federal level to fight for the enactment of these laws. The way the American legal system works, in order to get these laws on the books, white politicians had to be persuaded to work for this cause. Initially, the protest of our elders and ancestors were designed not to change the minds of the local white racist who would see the errors of their ways and offer blacks a seat at their table of privilege. These peaceful protests were designed to obtain the compassion of people with the political muscle to make the change on behalf of the black community. Change was coming. The violence of white people couldn’t stop it. And it was better to make that change civilly, before black people decide to meet white people’s violence with violence of their own. Blacks and whites had to work together to get this accomplished.
Doctor King isn’t solely responsible for civil rights. He didn’t get help from President Johnson. The two didn’t do it together. The civil rights took a concerted effort from a variety of different sources from all over this country. A lot of people sowed the seeds that bore this fruit. It didn’t come from one person, two people, a hundred, or even a million. To say otherwise minimizes the sacrifices of a lot of people. A lot of these people were black. A lot of them were white. But it is one of the very few times the people in this country worked together to offset this disease of white privilege and black subjugation. To argue otherwise is to demonstrate a very juvenile understanding of the entire process of the civil rights struggle.
Unlike a lot of American Presidents or presidential families, the Clintons have done better than most with respect to issues associated with racial matters. I know eight years ago I didn’t worry so much about working, housing, medical care, violation of my civil rights, and the like. They have made some glaring mistakes but they have also made some significant achievements for the black community. To suggest that the Clintons would bold facedly disrespect Doctor King is powerfully disingenuous. To publicly suggest that Barack Obama formerly indulged in behavior that he had the courage to admit and put behind him is out of line. People here have the opportunity to do something great that has never been done before in the history of the world. In a few months time the system that has perpetuated the epitome of white male privilege can be changed with our first President that is someone else. But instead, we are degenerating into the typical mudslinging so ingrained in the contest for a position in the American political system. None of this is doing anything to convince me to vote for either one and everything to make me look elsewhere. John Edwards is actually looking better and better.
Kyla Ebbert is back in the news. Ms. Ebbert, the former Hooters waitress, made national and probably global when she was flying on Southwest airlines and a flight attendant asked her to cover herself up during the flight. Ms. Ebbert was so humiliated that she went on television to show everybody her skimpy outfit. Her skirt was so short that one of the networks pixilated her crotch when she sat down to keep the camera from picking up a panty shot when she sat without crossing her legs. Now it appears that the woman whose skirt was too short to be riding the plane without being covered up with a blanket has done a deal to appear on Playboy Magazine’s website. The leggy exhibitionist will be in the nude as well as wearing lingerie. This news was made public Thursday, November 15th. Since then the internet has been abuzz with people searching for information regarding Ms. Ebbert.
Whether or not Ms. Ebbert is Playboy Magazine material is not even close to being an issue here. Besides, I’ve seen magazines that exist to indulge men’s sexual appetite and some of the models that have been featured would not have been my first, second, third, or four thousandth choice. I’ve seen much worse. But has anyone given any thought as to why Ms. Ebbert is the source of the public’s new found infatuation?
Leggy women are a dime a dozen. It takes absolutely no talent. All it takes is one of these established magazines to give someone an opportunity to flaunt their body across its pages. A lot of people, like Ms. Ebbert, would jump on the chance. But why is she given the shot?
For any given opportunity there will be a multitude of opportunist lining up for the chance. With few exceptions the employer nearly always has the advantage and their pick of talent for hire. One of the few times the candidate has the advantage is when a particular candidate has gained name recognition on their own and the employer is looking to capitalize on their notoriety. Once someone has name recognition other people want to harness that resource for their own benefit. Kyla Ebbert has such name recognition thanks to a fluke that started with an opportune meeting between a closet exhibitionist and a prude of a flight attendant. Had the flight attendant kept her disapproval of Ms. Ebbert to herself or had the former Hooters waitress got on the plane with a more modest outfit things would have been much different.
A similar situation happened with Robert Bailey Jr., Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Mychal Bell, and an unidentified minor. Through a series of unfortunate events that commenced with a noose hanging from a “white” tree and culminated with a march by mostly black supporters through the streets of Jena, Louisiana, these six young men became known as the Jena Six. These young men became one of the latest symbols of discrimination that the black community suffers at the hands of the dominant white corporate community. In this particular case, these black people were discriminated against by the local district attorney’s office itself. When violence broke out between the black kids and the white kids, the black kids were the only ones charged and they were being charged with murder.
Tens of thousands of people made their presence felt in Jena, Louisiana that September 20th day and many more people who were unable to participate and make the trip were doing their best to support the marchers and the Jena Six vicariously. The fate of these young men became synonymous with the fate of that segment of the black community that is more susceptible to the effects of subjugation. Thankfully, someone came to their senses and was able to use their influence to get the local district attorney to back off of his persecution of black people. But now that the Jena Six has become a household name someone is looking to capitalize off of their notoriety.
It was rather appalling to see the photo of two of the young men from Jena posing like typical hip hop wannabes at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards and doing their best to capitalize on their newfound notoriety. Rap star posers are a dime a dozen. Point a camera at most kids in the urban area and they will automatically snap into some typical rapper stance. The photograph only reinforces people’s stereotypes of black people. People already think that gangsta rap culture is black culture. This photo does absolutely nothing to dispel that association and everything to reinforce it. And where exactly was BET when these black men were fighting for the rest of their lives? Home come this alleged black media network failed to put its considerable resources at the disposal of the black community? But now that these men from Jena have some name recognition BET now wants to harness that resource for their own benefit.
All the protest and the marches and the blog writing that the black community did on behalf of the Jena Six were not about the Jena Six. It was about the black community. It was about protesting against a system wrought with contempt for people in the black community. Although they were at the forefront of the matter, these six young men were not the only ones facing injustice. If black people simply stood by while these members of the black community were railroaded into the dominant culture’s system of injustice under trumped up charges of attempted manslaughter, we would have been that much further behind in our never ending struggle for some semblance of racial equality here in America. Yes what these men did was wrong. But to destroy these men’s life over a school fight was criminal in itself. And yet, the white men who actually initiated the entire altercation go free without a care in the world.
So the Jena Six are free to do their hackneyed portrayals of the black community that so many people in corporate America would like to see black people do on a regular basis. The new found name recognition and relatively instantaneous celebrity status for a twist of fate gives them the opportunity to take profit and personal advantage. These men who are now examples to the black community can hip hop and rap and dance and laugh and party their way into the hearts of people across America. But there may be tens of thousands of black people who probably wish they wouldn’t.