With compromised media today, the Black Press is more essential than ever

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PHOTO FROM JULY 2012 when Dorothy Leavell addressed the IBE Summer Celebration Media Reception in Indianapolis.

By Vernon A. Williams

Americans are increasingly being duped by national media like lambs led to slaughter. Since ignorance is indeed bliss, most either don’t know or just don’t care. It’s tragic.

That mindless saturation of misinformation and propaganda is the root of the meteoric rise of a repugnant television reality show host to the height of presumptive GOP presidential candidate – with a legitimate shot at becoming leader of the free world.

It sounds like science fiction, like some novel with trumped up logic and a storyline so implausible that you trash the book after reading only the first few chapters. It sounds like a reality show so disgusting that after a few minutes of viewing, you prefer either tossing the TV into a dumpster or tossing a heavy object in the middle of the screen with all your force.

Journalism has become a disgraceful amalgam of partisan rhetoric – so blatant that those spewing the non-intellectual, slanted or erroneous babble no longer bother to camouflage their sentiments. CNN morning talk show host Chris Cuomo recently introduced a popular surrogate of the GOP nominee as, “My man, Jeff Lord.” Really?

FOX is no longer an enigma. They were simply forerunners in a debacle that has engulfed CNN, MSNBC, the major non-cable networks, talk radio, periodicals and newspapers across the country. Part of the reason is that media ownership has been reduced to the control of an elite cabal of mindbenders who embody the will of the tyrant.

So where is redemption in this portrait of tasteless, compromised media in the U.S.? One is the fact that there are alternate resources. There are a few uncompromised African American commentators in traditional media. But they are few and far between – minimizing their impact.

The Black Press is the single most potent anecdote for the media assault on the sensibility and legitimacy of freethinking people. Agree with him or not, one of the attractions of reading The Final Call and Minister Louis Farrakhan is that you know the verbiage of the publication won’t fear repercussions of positions that anger Wall Street or Madison Avenue.

Though reliant on major advertising, the Black Press has maintained its independence in a way few media outlets can compare.

For those quick to assume that this is simply trading one form of advocacy for another and that the Black Press is this monolith expression of ideology…think again. Compare the diverse perspectives and contrasting expressions presented in the average Black newspaper with those controlled by other races.

What you will invariably find is that the Black Press incorporates the life and feelings, the struggles and achievements, the attributes and deficiencies of African Americans in a more humanizing, balanced, and empathetic narrative that accents the positive and boldly extracts the worse. That’s all a fair-minded person could expect.

If you don’t subscribe to a Black newspaper, you really should – whether you are African American, white, Latino or other. Just as so-called minorities should be expected to keep abreast of the events, perspectives and nuances of others – the reverse should be true. Wouldn’t that help us better understand each other?

This week the Gary Crusader – led by iconic journalist Dorothy R. Leavell – observes its 55th year of publication. That any so-called minority business could remain relevant and thrive more than half a century is reason enough for enthusiastic kudos. That the sister publication in Chicago has done it for 21 years longer constitutes an authentic American success story.

Much more important than mere tribute to the Gary Crusader is recognition of the critical role it has played in the state’s largest percentage Black community since 1961. Incalculable.

And the Gary Crusader continues to fulfill a significant responsibility as a cauldron for vanguard thinking; as motivation for game-changing strategies; as recognition of the misrepresented; as inspiration to disenfranchised youth; as affirmation of our legitimate discontent, and as an unflinching source of respect for the experience and culture of people overtly and covertly marginalized in many corners of society.

Congratulations to all who make the Crusader what it is today and to those who sustained the publication’s growth over five and a half decades – those out front and behind the scenes! Finally, may the courage of truth forever trump ignorance, repression, nonchalance, injustice, bigotry, and fear.

 

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