Can you tell me the name of the first African-American United States Senator? The New York Times could have told you that his name was Hiram Revels from the state of Mississippi. They could have published this story two centuries ago, but newsworthy, it was not. Even by today’s standards, this should be considered newsworthy and an incredibly prestigious appointment. For a black man who embarks upon a campaign as a candidate for any local office, that is progress, indeed. Amidst divisiveness still lingering and some may say, flourishing, milestones in black history are awe-inspiring, yet still remains to elude widely read publications as ‘newsworthy’. Just being considered as a candidate makes a statement that provides hope for a better, more just America.
From very early in our country’s history, the advent of the camera was used as a tool that told stories. A picture is worth a thousand words-at the very least. The lens can paint pictures to be perceived in a positive light or as evidence of the inferiority and un-human qualities/attributes of blacks. It is said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and depending upon which side of the lens we look, we can capture images that strategically serve to reinforce stereotypes or defy the myths.
It is no secret that newsworthiness largely depends on context and for a long time, race was also a determinant. When we see the nightly news that is viewed by millions of people, in their homes and now on their smart devices, news rarely highlights or celebrates people of color. Quite the opposite. Newsworthy, in the eyes of the dominant American public, was any story about criminal behaviors. Blacks are still being photographed, captured on film, and sent into our households in a negative light.
This was the original purpose when black people were photographed by whites…to support the practice of segregation, slavery, prejudice and reinforce the notion of white privilege and entitlement. It justified unjust practices. Turn on your television, and we still see these negative images of people of color, being paraded as criminals, murderers, drug addicts in this country. That is what is newsworthy, and it tells others that it is not unfair to profile, mass incarcerate, disrupt families, and mis-educate children in schools.
Americans are force fed these images. It is not in alignment with this new liberalism or an equal opportunity society that we promote by continuing to perpetuate old perspectives. By so doing, the divisiveness, discriminatory and racist practices remain normalized-mainstream.
Sadly enough, those who hold such beliefs that would be considered wrong and widely condemned if reversed. That is a benefit of possessing empathy for others. You get it! Conveniently, however, we are unaware and in conscious denial of any personally held or systemically- embedded biases towards African-Americans, Mexicans, or Muslim people. So deeply ingrained, instead, these views are characteristics of what we call “implicit bias”. America buys it, lives it and sells it, and leads people to believe that propaganda nonsense, even without understanding how the collective ‘we, the people’ are universally impacted.
When we continue to speak with forked tongues, saying one thing but demonstrating a clear cognitive dissonance in our actions or inactions, the only change we see is backwards movement. We should be moving forward, which means traveling in the same direction…embracing the same basic goals.
The institutions that are relied upon to share the ‘truth’ with the general public are still part of the machinery of a democracy gone awry. Unintentionally, it is about money, financial gain and political power which drives conscious decisions to suppress any news information which counters the popular but imbalance unjustifiable perceptions regarding those considered threats to the status quo. It is a deeply felt fear of losing any entitlements and privileges ‘earned’ by the design and structure framed through inhumane and blatantly torturous practices. After all, the goodness which lies within us all, understands that internal guilt also resides within, and confrontations with ourselves would create massive pain.
Nobody wants this, and therefore we continue to suppress and oppress a number of groups of individuals to avoid the confrontation of the truths. Ultimately, we cause ourselves more pain surely to be felt at some point. Better now than saving it for our children and then their children and jeopardize our futures. Facing one’s self and the guilt of any past indiscretions is never pretty, but necessary if we wish to live and enjoy life. We must learn to live and let live while embracing ourselves, each with potential to thrive in an excellence uniquely determined. Fair and just must prevail, and it is at that point that we will be an undisputed and indisputable leader of the free world.
The link which follows represents food for thought and gives us an example of suppressing truths and the manifestations of racial prejudices derived from mis-information or withheld information. Take a look. Read it and share your thoughts, if not here, then hold your own private conversations. It starts with us!