Systematic oppression comes in many forms: Housing, Health Care, Food and Nutrition, Media Coverage and Access, Incarceration, and Education. With a list like this, one can sincerely ask, why does the media cover these topics at disproportionate rates? Why does corporate media use antics that fuel the American idea that black people are dangerous? Is corporate media unaware that they give life to a false concept that fuels the hate crime agenda that is life and death for all black people? Systems of white supremacy are perpetuated by money and convincing the people that what they’re hearing on the radio, or seeing on television, is the only thing worth talking about.
Mainstream media has been found guilty of perpetuating the message that Black people are “dangerous” and belong in housing projects and prisons. The corporate media also promotes the paranoid idea that anyone who doesn’t look like “white America” is out to get “us”. It appears as though the ignorant concept of white supremacy also produces white fragility. The power of the media and its focus on painting black and brown people as “dangerous” and “criminals” while simultaneously promoting whiteness, leads to xenophobic sentiments like, make American great again! No wonder we spend more than half our national budget on the Pentagon and military funding. When you look around from state to state and city to city, the police departments, sheriff’s departments, State’s Attorney’s and Circuit Clerk’s Office make up more than half of the budget for the State, County, or City. It’s all connected.
The media is supposed to report to the people what’s happening. Instead, they’re actually brainwashing white America into thinking they’re the only ones who matter.
The Media has become the catalyst for whiteness and the storytelling engine that has grown into a useful epidemic tool that aids in white fragility. Lecturer and author Robin DiAngelo, calls this movement “white fragility,” the stress white people feel in trying to understand they are not special and are just another race like any other. White fragility leads to feelings of insecurity, defensiveness, even feeling threatened. It creates a backlash against those perceived as the “other.”
The way we are portrayed by corporate media forces black people to fight for justice and equity in media coverage. The current climate, nationally and locally, is only adding to the piles of black bodies incarcerated and killed by police. We see news stories of black men dead by hanging being called a suicide (Robert Fuller and Malcolm Harsch) before any facts are discovered to hopefully diminish the outrage that would come if it were white people hanging black men, again. Our images are put forth in the press and we are seen as guilty and forced to prove our innocence (Ricardo Woodson). Backwards isn’t it? This is not a new tactic; we just have faster access now.
We live in a country where our own president is ok with waging war on American citizens through fear of a black rise to consciousness as an attack on white people. Yet the hate we see on local levels of politics up to the white house is through bodies that carry small amounts of melanin (not sure what this means). Corporate media outlets do not tell the stories of the people. They tell the stories of those with big money agenda’s that keep the “good old days” in mind and their white contributors. Recently, in a summarized statement, Dr. Amira Davis shared a response where Trump replied that Black Americans need to learn about the country’s history, lest they “go back to it.” His comments suggested that slavery could reoccur if monuments to slave-owners were removed.” This was his call to action through the media. We must hold not only the president accountable, we must also hold local leader’s Mayor’s, city officials, state officials, and stakeholders liable for the messages they sell by way of Big media.
As I work in my own community of Champaign-Urbana Illinois, I see how our big media groups WCIA-3 (Nexstar Media Group) and the News-Gazette (Community Media Group Inc.) continue to show which side of the divide they are on, with the local coverage of my communities disadvantages. Local news stations that are trusted more than national news stations are actually just the same owners pretending to be independent sources. And it’s so dangerous. They uphold not that we are innocent until proven guilty but that we are just simply guilty by being black and uneducated. Every time there is an injustice carried out on a person of color, they read off the person's wrap sheet, which has nothing to do with the issue at hand (even in death) but feeds into the white fragility thought processes.
As a people we must invest in independent media, to dismantle the power that big media companies like FOX, CNN, Sinclair Broadcast Group have. Indeed, it is time to re-find the value in reading and the usefulness of writing, to carry on the cultural importance of oration. Because we cannot be, what we cannot see” let’s imagine ourselves as journalists, cameramen, editor’s, producers, taking ownership in demanding equal representations at every level, with funding to build our own table. Be comfortable in the idea “for us by us” in every realm. No longer be ok with allowing the media to protect White Fragility. Keep exposing as this is a Marathon, not a race.