I am writing in response both to Rev. Keith Ogden‘s letter [“Ogden: Two Officers Drive False Narrative about Chief of Police,” Dec. 10, Xpress] and to Brenda Webber‘s response to that letter [“Reader Responds to Letter about Police Chief’s Retirement,” Dec. 23, Xpress]. I have some additional thoughts that I hope might prove useful.
I agree with Rev. Keith Ogden’s observations on the racist script underlying mainstream corporate media’s coverage of our former police chief, William Anderson, and the events leading up to his resignation. It seems that every day since President Barack Obama took office, there have been more and more stories depicting black male actors, sports stars, politicians and other public figures as being irresponsible, sex-crazed (as having a particular penchant for white women) and ineffective in positions of leadership.
This is, of course, the same view that has historically been used by racist whites to justify slavery, lynching, segregation and other violent and/or discriminatory practices that are central to our nation’s history.
Why would such characterizations be politically expedient for corporate America to resurrect and to such a degree? A president cannot single-handedly address global warming, the need for universal health care and other issues without incurring the wrath of those interests that stand united in their determination to proceed full steam ahead in spite of them.
In the same way that Asheville, with its many activists, artists and others of a liberal mind, seems regularly to get a bad name in the press, so too have African-Americans been consistently maligned in the press.
It is as though the idea is to plant the message, subtly or not, that the president’s highly criticized administration and decisions are as hotly contested as they are because of the fact of his race — and not because his policies and platform threaten the revenues of big business.
Such a message divides Americans and tends to unite a sort of corporate power base, if you will, one perhaps most amenable to a picture of the world that best suits their prejudices and/or justifies their privileges.
Many people, having followed the discourse in mainstream media or influenced by those who have (and is this not all of us?), have heard the idea that the conversation about race and racism is old hat. That to speak of it is simply to “play the race card,” as Ms. Webber puts it. But to have a true “conversation” about anything requires a healthy media, and mainstream corporate media, bolstered and consolidated as never before, is no such vehicle for discourse. And to render the issue of race as obsolete is to forget our country’s history.
Our rights are connected as never before. And those prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have never been more prescient: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”