News Report on GSLABJ. Monday October 19, 1998
As the City Crumbles, what Happens to Black Journalists and Leaders?
What went wrong? - Searching for solutions!
I was at the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists award dinner on September 26, 1998, when one of the guests asked me the question, "What happened to all the Black journalists in St. Louis?" Although the event was well attended, many of the well known Black journalists seen on the television, heard the radio, or read about in the newspaper were no where to be found. "What went wrong?" asked the concerned Black lady. Some were probably at work while others just chose to shun the occasion since it was for "Black" journalists! If it had been an event organized by a White association, many people would probably play the Michael Jackson's game and show their faces. Yet, we have the audacity to blame Whites for all of our problems when we fail to support Black initiatives to dignify our own people!
What went wrong?
Are we lost in a time warp?
I could not adequately answer the lady who asked the question. Even though I thought I knew part of the answers or the real reasons why some noticeable Black journalists did not show up. Later when I started thinking, I came up with many ideas, and the answers to that question was not easy. There is a fact that is clear in my mind. The question pin-pointed the real issue why the cities are crumbling and the initiatives of Black journalists and leaders are not powerful enough to re-energize the decaying cities across the United States.
Obsession with insatiable appetite to be accepted
Attacking the White people is a strategy that we have used in the past for lack of our motivation to develop effective community initiative within the inner cities. Years ago prior to desegregation, we had the effective community initiative and orchestration to take care of our needs and the needs of the communities. If our communities were not intact, most of the demonstrations leading to Civil Right passage in the 1970s would have been impossible. However, during the process of integration, something happened to us as people. We have become obsessed with an insatiable appetite to be accepted by the White race and fit into their communities. This desire gave us the false hope that racism will be eradicated and we are better off being insiders in politics than being outsiders and looking inside. Despite the political gains with Black leaders and sympathizers being elected into public offices, the cities continue to decay. The drug dealers have taken over the streets compounding the problems of crime and violence already in the inner cities. Black teenagers are still popping babies without legitimate husbands and the tragedy continues!
Plight of Racism
I know racism exists in America and has damaged the lives of Blacks and probably maimed our minds as well. History of American racism is part of the most shameful aspect of history many Whites do not want to acknowledge let alone seek for resolution. That is why Oprah Winfrey's movie; Beloved hurts people with a conscience so much and hopefully brings about changes. The fictitious argument that the present White generation is not involved in slavery has no merit because the same people are the beneficiary of the oppression and the slave labor of Blacks.
The worst aspect of racism that can be corrected but remains unchecked, is the basic aspect of institutionalized racism which in some situations are sanctioned by some leaders for political gains. People don't realize that both Whites and Blacks suffer from institutionalized racism targeted against Blacks. If racism continues to preclude talented Blacks from being discovered, people like Oprah Winfrey of the future may become difficult to find. Sadly still, institutionalized racism gives encouragement and solid excuse to gang bangers that, no matter the education of Blacks or minorities, they will still be subjected to the oppression and abuse of racism on the job. Based on past interviews by non-college educated Blacks in the inner cities, they believe that the quest for going through the pain of attaining a college education is a worthless endeavor. They are discouraged because many Blacks who are already educated and working very hard are not rewarded enough. In some situations, some Black professionals are being abused by the corporation compared to their White counter part who are usually well rewarded -- even sometimes with less education.
Quest for solutions
In spite of racism, I believe the rescue of the Black race and Black communities from decay primarily lies in the hands of Black journalists and Black leaders. The Black journalists will educate the Black communities since knowledge is power, like the old saying. The Black leaders will stop the self destructive strategy of selfishness and the relentless desire to appease other people than those they represent. We must develop effective community initiatives to rescue the Black children and families from the ruins of the inner city. Those who have attained both economic and positional advantage should learn to have mercy and help rescue those sinking into the insanity of poverty.
Joint effort to achieve success
If we are to succeed in our efforts to rescue the inner cities, our communities and the Black family, we have to develop a well organized joint effort to achieve these goals. If Blacks in the position of power refuse to help, they remain part of the problem as we continue to search for solutions to the problems of the inner cities. Part of the answers I have initiated is to start educating disadvantaged Blacks in the inner cities who are on welfare. They should be taught how they can find jobs and remain self sufficient without depending on the government for hand-outs. We need to chase away the drug dealers and gang bangers -- either reform them, jail them or shoot them (just kidding) to clean up the cities. Effective job programs should be created within the cities to uplift those sinking in abject poverty. It is very important that participants must be focused and motivated to attain successful outcome.
The role of the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists (GSLABJ)
As a member of the association for some years now, I have seen, and applauded some of the giant efforts put forward by the Black journalists organization. GSLABJ conducts many free workshops for the community to help organizations prepare to meet the press, trains young Black journalists, gives scholarships to minority students, conducts community forums to provide for public discussions, and continues to give awards for excellence in journalism. The role of the national organization is very magnanimous. However, these efforts can be amplified if more Blacks and minority journalists participate without suffering from the "infra dignitate" syndrome (below my dignity). We can not blame Whites for taking care of their own with the exclusion of Blacks -- it's called self preservation. We too, need to learn how to take care of our own. Remember, we used to do this during difficult times.
I don't believe I have all the answers, I will therefore be interviewing other Black journalists about what we can do to rescue the Black race as we prepare for the next century -- while some of us are still waiting for the rescue train. God help us!
written by Victor 'Yinka Vidal,
Managing Editor, OUTCRY Magazine, Lara Pub. Florissant, MO.
Stay tuned for responses from other journalists