Failing to take advantage of our free press constitutional rights in not establishing our own national news media operation, is just part of the story of how we have been working against ourselves as a race since the success of the civil rights movement. Ironically, the reverses we are experiencing began with that historic movement’s successes and integration, resulting in unintended negative consequences.
Black Americans have made tremendous advancements economically, politically, individually and collectively. With the success of the civil rights movement and voter registration drives, political and economic opportunity opened up. The popular pre-civil rights’ sentiment among black people of “we’re all in this together” shifted to “every man for himself” and it became all about the “Benjamins.” Blacks began getting jobs and careers they never envisioned, political offices and appointments they never imagined.
This should have been the ultimate fairy-tale ending if things had remained that simple. Actually, things did remain simple. Human nature kicked in. Black folk were as interested in career advancement as the next person, doing what people do on jobs when they want to progress: “go along to get along to get ahead.” A black employee in a mortgage-lending company engaged in racial redlining didn’t go screaming out the door, “Oh lawd, I quit y’all redlining.” Racial crusading on the job was recognized as not a successful career path.
Keeping it real, until very recently the Muhammad Ali / Harry Belafonte model was not the current template to which black professional athletes or entertainers subscribed. It’s been close to the reverse, the more rich and famous the less likely is one to speak up on race. One of the more ironic evolutions has been the rappers who were originally the most adamant against police abuse with their famous “F… the police.” Now the themes are more about getting paid and getting laid. In the meantime, the police thing is as alive and predatory as ever. The recent welcome breakthrough regarding a few professional athletes showing their concern seemed to be the best source for the current stage of our fundraising campaign.
This gives insight on how a race has willingly and unwittingly acquiesced to being economically seduced into participating in traditional racist practices. Even the black rich and famous have been reduced to silence with, fortunately, a few recent exceptions. It also shows how critical the establishment of this national news media operation is to have at least this one entity in place to represent our interests, issues and concerns and bring them to the public forum. Tragically, when we turn to the two most egregious institutional racist offenders with life and death power – law enforcement and the mainstream news media – that has proven to be a lethal combination against black Americans.
In any case, it turns out those who seemed to be the most likely sources of support engaged in National Anthem protest and Espy publicity-seeking group speeches proved to be. “Ain’t necessarily so.” Our position is to note the reality and continue to persevere.