The question is simple, who decides which one of these is newsworthy? Who's pulling the strings and telling us which ones to be outraged about? Why aren't all of these receiving national attention? The media frenzy around Michael Brown has not been this fervent since the death of Trayvon Martin. Is there something we can learn from this?
Maybe it has to do with age. Garner was a 43-year-old father of six, Crawford was a 22-year-old father of two, Ford was 25 years old, and Parker was 36 years old. Did they not meet the criteria for garnering a public outcry?
Maybe it has to do with location. It has been well documented that although Ferguson's population is predominantly African American, their police force is predominantly white. Is it possible that this statistic lends itself to great copy.
Have we been brainwashed into believing there is a "black male problem" that needs to be fixed? What kind of message is this sending to young black men? Are they broken and in need of repair?
I’ve been asking myself these questions lately. For years we have been exposed to “plight of the black man” messaging. I question the psychological impact this has had on young black men. Let’s be clear, I’m not a psychiatrist and by no means inferring I’m qualified to offer any medical opinions. What I will say is I find it hard to believe that negative messaging has not had an effect on these young men.
If you do a Google search for “black male initiative programs” you will find a plethora of organizations committed to the development of black men. Even our federal government is involved with the launching of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Has it come this far that our president needs to step in and help "fix" young black men? In our zeal to help have we contributed to lowering their self esteem?
“President Obama is taking action to launch My Brother’s Keeper – a new initiative to help every boy and young man of color who is willing to do the hard work to get ahead. For decades, opportunity has lagged behind for boys and young men of color. But across the country, communities are adopting approaches to help put these boys and young men on the path to success.”
I applaud all of these organizations for the great work their doing. They have been instrumental and necessary for many young men. Their efforts are the socially responsible thing to do given the circumstances.
A few weeks ago many folks in New York City were in an uproar. First because a young man, who lives with his mom in Corona, Queens, is studying engineering at the New York City College of Technology, and has a work-study job was detained by law enforcement stemming from the purchase of a $349 Ferragamo belt at Barneys. Second because Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter refused to speak out on the issue. Jay-Z is launching a signature collection at Barneys and is receiving pressure to dissociate himself from Barneys.
For reasons I'm sure are different than Jay-Z's I chose not to make any comments until I saw how this whole thing played out. As I expected, in our world of instant gratification and information overload, this story is now buried somewhere in cyber space.
That doesn't mean the story is no longer newsworthy or there aren't some serious dynamics worthy of discussion. It only means the "wow factor" and the controversy the media was expecting to come out of it did not materialize.
Succumbing to the pressure Jay-Z finally commented on this issue:
"I move and speak based on facts and not emotion. I haven’t made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys. Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately? The negligent, erroneous reports and attacks on my character, intentions, and the spirit of this collaboration have forced me into a statement I didn’t want to make without the full facts." --Life and Times: A Statement from Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter
Earlier this week I had a conversation with a friend, a very conservative Republican, about the Stop and Frisk ruling. His comment to me was "I can't understand how you and other liberals can applaud the ruling. Don't you realize that you have condemned the youth you supposedly support to an uncertain future? Don't you realize how many African American and Latino youth are going to be killed because this ruling handcuffs the police and does not allow them to do their job?"
I've known this person for years and would be one of the first to say that he doesn't have racist bone in his body. That being said it goes to show how misinformed many people are and how little they know about what it really means to be an African American. His comments to me sounded like something I could have heard by watching FOX News.
So now all of a sudden there's a concern about the lives of African American youth? Is that really the case? I don't need to share the statistics. It's a well known fact that Stop and Frisk did not yield the results that it's proponents touted. When looking at the broader picture Stop and Frisk did accomplish something, it instilled fear. The same fear that the overseer used to control the master's slaves. The fear of control. The fear among many youths that they better stay in line or else they'll end up becoming part of the system.
Now that I have your attention let me explain why. As an African American there is nothing that I can do to eradicate racism. Racism is a mindset, it's a cultural philosophy. Racism is owned by those who choose to be racist. I can expose them. I can embarrass them. I can even put them in the uncomfortable position of apologizing. If I'm lucky, I can even impact them financially. The one thing that I cannot do is stop a racist from being a racist. In all likelihood an exposed racist may become more racist because they were exposed.
I'm getting a little tired of the media frenzy when someone is exposed for the racial comments they make. Don't get me wrong, I do a little happy dance every time but there are so many other things affecting us that the media could be giving a little more attention. Sometime I feel as if the media is saying "we caught one, be happy, we're the good guys".
On Sunday Africanglobe published an article titled Is Wendy’s Racist? Apparently, Their Scholarships Only Go to White Students.
Wendy’s, the third largest fastfood restaurant chain in the world, is being heavily criticized for the way they administer their scholarship program.
My response to the article was:
Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility Inc.