Shelbi

Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

Ida B. was a bad B

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2010 at 7:08 pm

I’ve had the pleasure of being able to read a few excerpts from the fearless and talented Ms. Ida B. Wells, and I must say, she is certainly one to emulate. There was a fearlessness in Wells that was so surprising to me, I felt as though I was reading a fiction novel. Could a black woman in the 1900’s have that much audacity to tell a white man he was wrong in a published newspaper? Furthermore, not only did Wells express her deep dissatisfaction with the issues of lynching in the south, she went on to call those same men murders and cowards; and their wives shameless adulters. AND THEN sign her name at the bottom! That is the type of journalism that needs to be seen more on today’s CNN and FOX news station. Everything is so propaganda these days, it is incredibly difficult to believe any one person is telling the honest to goodness truth.

Even more than as a journalist, as a black woman Ida exemplified a will to defend her people, even to her death, and encouraged us all to do the same.

“The lesson this teaches and which every Afro-American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give. When the white man who is always the aggressor knows he runs as great a risk of biting the dust every time his Afro-American victim does, he will have greater respect for Afro-American life. The more the Afro-American yields and cringes and begs, the more he has to do so, the more he is insulted, outraged and lynched.”

-excerpt from Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases

So why aren’t we seeing this type of journalism anymore? There are definitely enough civil rights issues going on to defend (including the horrible incident at Rutgers. And certainly there are people speaking out there. But I think all the social networking sites and such make it seem like everyone is yelling at the same time and no one is being heard. It’s a shame. I watch the news today and forget about it all tonite because the world is so terribly screwed that there isn’t enough time in the day to fix all its problems. And worst of all, there never seem to be enough people who care. It would make a present day Ida B. throw up her hands to God.

It is my sincerest dream to use my talents and profession to uplift those in this country whose voice seems to be ignored. And though it is a dirty, strenuous job, as they always say; somebody’s gotta do it.

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Don Imus’ Comment (and My Contribution to It).

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2010 at 11:24 pm

I think that everyone that is anyone that is black remembers where they were when Don Imus embarrassed himself on his own radio show by “describing” a team of mostly black female basketball players. And I can almost bet you my lunch money that we can also remember what we said after we heard him saying. Most of those things I rather not mention, but after the smoke cleared and I heard the comment for about the 100th time in a week (thank you, CNN) I had another view that I’m certain many people would disagree with.

It’s partly my fault that Don Imus’ said what he said.

Just to be totally honest here, my friends know me for having quite the potty mouth. And in a (very) comfortable setting, I have been known to toss out the “N word” in between periods and pauses; and not just in front of my black friends either. No, I have become a part of the typical pool of African Americans who believe, whether it is fair or not, that the “N word” is a word that we can say and you can’t (if you aren’t African American). So with my white counterparts listening to me tell a story from my life experiences or maybe even relay what I saw on television that day, you can almost bet that they are hearing me use the “N word”. So what’s the big deal w/ that and how in the hell does that have anything to do with Imus? Let me explain.

“Hey ho how ya doin, where ya been?/Prolly doin ho stuff cuz there you ho again/Its a ho wide world, that we livin in/feline, feminine, fantastical, women”

And I won’t say whose song that is, because basically, I love that song and the artist.

But getting back to Don, when you look at lyrics like that and then realize that you are reading what some would call a “mild” example of how often “hoes” are portrayed in the media, your (assuming you are an African American) first question after hearing his comment should not have been “Oh my goodness, where in the world did Don get that kind of language from?” The answer is, unfortunately, he got it partly from you. And I would even go so far as to say that it’s not what was said, but obviously who had said it. If Steve Harvey had of gotten on his radio station and said the same thing, I can guarantee you that no one would have thought twice to correct him because its “ok when we do it to ourselves”, which is obviously wrong.

Don Imus, being the old ignorant fart that he is, did not make a “racial slur” so much as he perpetuated a comment that has been said so many times by the exact same type of people who were the victims in this case. Watch any episode of The Game on BET (or the CW) and you will see black women calling each other hoes and bitches through out, and no one is losing their job over it. But when we see our racially private descriptions of ourselves being repeated by a stereotypical white man, he’s immediately racist. There is a problem with that.

Don Imus’ was totally wrong for what he said, but he isn’t racist and he certainly isn’t the only one to blame in this situation. Take responsibility for the fact that sometimes, white people are just repeating what we say to each other. Maybe it will make us stop saying it ourselves.

Where’s all the color in the newsroom?

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2010 at 12:08 pm

The editor for the Herald Times in Bloomington came to class today to discuss gender issues and the like in class today. We had a very valuable discussion on the myths and stereotypes of women and men within the newspaper and I learned a lot about how things were and how they have changed since then. I also learned a great deal on how different (and possibly rewarding) it is to work for a small town newspaper. The conversation was overall a great help towards my own wonderings about newspaper media. However, there was an obvious part of the conversation that seemed to be missing: the topic of race in the newsroom. There were a lot of different reasons that could be named true for why there was not much talk about the absence of different races within print media, but I think mostly the issue was that no one really knew why minorities are so under represented. So while we were in class I came up with a couple reasons.

Reason One: We’re not being introduced

At my high school (in Gary, IN) there was very little to almost no conversation about journalism. We did have newspaper and yearbook courses, but I am not even particularly sure if my classmates understood that you could go to college to do those same things (or at least do them again in college). And even more so, our academic and attendance records were (and still are) so low that our school system has created a very special and very serious curriculum to help us master the state required tests. Though at Munster, Merrillville, and Calumet (a.k.a. heavily populated White schools) high schools it was more likely that the students had time for journalism courses or clubs because their curriculum was not so tightly scheduled. This would help spawn the idea of possibly pursuing journalism in college because it was practiced in high school.

Reason Two: Nobody is seeking us out

Of all my years as a high school and middle school student in Gary, IN, I have never EVER not once seen a recruiter for the IU School of Journalism or any other journalism institute for that matter. I have seen recruiters for IU and other different schools as far as general admission is concerned, but when you discuss schools within the college, the most have heard about as far as recruitment is the Kelly School of Business (and that goes for all Indiana colleges). There is, of course, a heavy recruitment from Indiana colleges for sports, but that isn’t surprising at all. I could understand how funding would play a huge role in being able to recruit minority students, but if you ask me, I think half the battle would be just showing the rest of the world that minority students exists within the SOJ (and if they kinda don’t, showing that too). If you check the IU SOJ website, I would argue that there are not many examples of minority students studying there (which is not totally anyone’s fault for reasons I will discuss later). If the SOJ wants more minority students enrolled in their program, they have to show how we relate to it, and part of that way is showing that we are already there succeeding.

Reason Three: A lack of us shows no future for us

As I was saying before, if you want minority students in your school (and that is any school) part of what you should do to advertise is show that we can succeed in the major. That is also a big issue in why we as a whole are not represented in the journalism world. Pick up any one general magazine. How many white reporters can you name? Now how many latino ones can you name? Black? Arabic? Exactly. As a student, unless they have a die-hard desire to write (or produce, or photograph, etc.) it is very hard to see an actual career in journalism because we do not have strong examples of it. Just a token here and there that is needed to save face so-to-speak. There absolutely needs to be a greater initiative  to put more minorities in positions within print journalism so that there can later be more opportunities for minorities to hold leadership positions.

Reason Four: We’re going where the money is

It’s no surprise that students are picking majors that more or less promise a secure financial future and to be completely honest, if anyone told me they were going into journalism for the money I would think they were crazy. Certainly there are people within the journalism profession who make a great deal of money doing it, but in salaries, the ratio of journalists and doctors just do not equal out. So it is even less of a surprise to find out that minority students, who are more prone to a less financially successful career future would seek out jobs that bring in the bigger bucks.

And lastly, Reason Five: We don’t see the bigger picture

Anytime I go back to my hometown and someone asks me what am I studying in school, my answer is always followed by the “You wanna work in the newspaper?” question. For whatever reason, it is very hard for people to see past being a reporter for a newspaper as a journalistic job. There are graphic designers, public relations workers, photographers, and etc. within the print industry that to not necessarily require a scholarly writer as well. So minorities who aren’t thinking that far are limited to whether they can write or not. This is possibly the biggest problem that we are having in getting into the career of journalism. Perhaps if more students new of the different options they had within journalism, they would not be so hesitant to look into the possibilities of pursuing it.

Fortunately, I also learned about organizations like the Diversity Institute who help tackle some of these issues and make it more accessible for minorities to participate within journalism. But there is so much more that minorities who are already involved within journalism need to do to help add more color to the newsroom. As soon as we figure that out you’ll be seeing the media get darker and darker, but in a good way. 🙂

Skimming the Surface on Stereotypes

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Monday in class we discussed racial stereotypes of different social groups. There were many things that I agreed with, but one in particular that I found particularly annoying was a Youtube video on stereotypes of the African-American woman. Being a Black woman myself who has done some extensive research and took certain classes to better help me understand who I am in America, I did not expect this video to truly captivate the stereotypes that Black women face and then develop a solution to those problems. However, this video seemed so hastily thought out that I felt slightly offended. Up until we reached the end of the video, I almost assumed that someone who was not an African-American woman must have created it. The video skims the surface of more deeply rooted stereotypes that exist within the stereotypes that were displayed. Perhaps the biggest issue that I had was how the creator only touched on the more noted stereotypes of today; calling them out and then giving very Websteresque definitions to each. The video was intended for young Black girls (as the last minute suggested) but the problems with stereotypes are much stronger than just bringing them to the forefront. Racial self-esteem issues for African-Americans have been occurring since we existed as inhabitants of this country as a result of majority views of the African-American as well as slave tactics used to control and demoralize an African-American people.

As my people have seen these self-esteem issues arise far after the freedom of slaves almost 200 years ago, and there is much evidence of reason for those issues, it would seem surprising how much we perpetuate stereotypes and hurt each other with our actions. It is those same “slave tactics” discussed earlier in this text, or the Willie Lynch novels as they are better known, that attribute to the [for lack of a better phrase] the ass-backward traits that African-American people as a whole exhibit. We kill each other.  We demoralize our women. And our men are suffering an ordeal that seems impossible to change for the better. And who is to blame for these atrocities? That question I do not believe will ever have a problem-solving answer, however, it is important to understand that the answer is not in a 4 minute video defining stereotypes. We as African-Americans need to dig much deeper than that to solve the problem.

So, black girls: I certainly want you to love yourselves, but I should first learn to teach you how.