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Race: Simply an incident or a real issue?

Elinor Tatum | 4/12/2011, 5:26 p.m.

It is only because of these incidents that the mainstream is willing to discuss race or issues of our community at all. Is it too much to ask for our communities' issues to be a regular part of the country's discourse on an ongoing basis?

And what is sad is that the tone of the coverage when talking about race always seems to take a negative slant toward people or color or their communities. I suspect that the president feels boxed in when it comes to our issues--that by having too much direct discussion of our community, the white-controlled media and conservatives would accuse him of favoritism.

So, instead, we seem to be getting silence.

The Pew report further said that the place most likely to cover anything about our communities is cable news. But cable coverage offers us little comfort. Most of the coverage only looks at the political implications of actions by or to Black figures, rather than looking at the overarching issues of the day.

In complete contrast, the study also looked at three Black newspapers, The Amsterdam News, The Afro-American and the Philadelphia Tribune. In all the analysis of these Black papers, the Black press focused on the issues--instead of the incidents--and the greater implications of race in America.

Unfortunately, when it comes to issues of race and America, it seems as though the mainstream is afraid to address race unless they are given an "excuse" to cover it because of the occurrence of some event, whether it is the Gates incident, the Sherrod incident and the like.

The Black press has been at the forefront of covering all aspects of our community since its inception. There is little question on what our purpose continues to be because of the mainstream and their coverage of the Black community, which often involves the foul use of images that degrade Black people and our community.

The lack of sensitivity to our struggles and their overall commitment to the dummying down of the conversation about race in this country has led us to the same place where we have been before--the Black press is needed more now more than ever and we must continue to lead the conversations on race because if we don't, it will not be the issues that are addressed--just the incidents.