The insanity of the cartoon satarizing the assassination of President Barack Obama featured in The New York Post mid week has yet to illicit the type of headlines it so deserves. On CNN late Friday, a farce of a discussion was debated half-heartedly by three male political commentators: two Caucasian and one African American. The conversation was ridiculous and lukewarm at best and unsurprisingly the only African American on the panel was oreo in texture, weak in tone and void of true substance. This particular commentator once peppered the Bush cabinet. That figures.
The New York Post should be held responsible for nurturing a counter-productive environment that thrives on ignorance and racial bias. The “apology” that the editorial staff of The New York Post offered wasn’t really an apology at all. It was another attempt to blow a smoke screen over the truth. The truth is that this particular newspaper, that happens to be minority owned, practices a wicked brand of propaganda that breeds a complex set of circumstances with tragic results.
Throughout America’s history, the media has been used to sell all kinds of misleading garbage to further one group’s agenda over another. Usually, these are collective groups with a singular identity, coupled with a never ending supply of money, investments and political clout. That is how groups as these succeed. However, the power that they wield can lead to devastating results. Case in point, Nazi Germany.
When Adolpf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in the early 1930′s, his agenda became crystal clear. Through the formation of the Third Reich, and in turn the creation of the SS, Hitler was able to wrestle control of the media, and in essence, control the thoughts of a nation. Through his horrendous propaganda machine, Hitler was able to thoroughly emasculate those he deemed undesirable and unfit. This systematic programing and wiring of a nation was spoon fed daily through the government owned newspapers. Soon, an entire country was desensitized. When that was accomplished, the out and out slaughter of millions upon millions of innocent human beings commenced. An entire nation was seduced by the cunning propaganda of one prominent group of people who chose to exterminate those it labeled unworthy to live.
How did this happen? Through the media, courtesy of the local newspaper.
How about the assassination of Malcolm X? This is an excellent study in using a media platform to further or carry out an expressed agenda. Upon being subsequently forced out of the Nation of Islam in late 1963 due to a jealous, power hungry and ego-tripping unstable religious hierarchy, Malcolm X experienced media harassment. This intense media harassment came from two ends of the spectrum. Secular and religious.
Muhammad Speaks was a prominent community newspaper that Malcolm created to showcase the activities of the Nation of Islam, spread the message of Islam, as taught by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and advertise local Muslim businesses. With Malcolm at the helm, the newspaper had validity. After Malcolm’s departure, the editors of Muhammad Speaks decided to declare a jihad on him.
In the name of Allah, faithful readers were systematically fed lies about Malcolm that bred an intense hatred. The tone of Muhammad Speaks became volatile by the usage of key words that meant a great deal to Nation of Islam followers. Words such as “traitor”, “Devil,” hypocrite,” “loyalty,” and “betray.” The language in Muhammad Speaks and the sheer magnitude of hate propaganda helped to fuel the electric atmosphere that crackled around Malcolm X and disgruntled Nation of Islam members.
Satiric cartoons, as the one displayed above, succeeded in assisting in the psychological execution of Malcolm X. All that was needed was some sick and demented person or persons to ‘righteously’ defend the honor of Elijah Muhammad in the name of God. Hence the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965. Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan has since admitted that his role as editor of Muhammad Speaks, fueled the hatred that led to Malcolm’s death.
So, what does this mean? It means that with the lack of public outcry over such a blatant attack on not just President Barack Obama, but African American men in general, and African Americans as a collective, the scene has been set for ignorant people to continue to wallow in the depths of hatred and degradation of human beings that they have marked as moving targets. Traditionally, these type of individuals dwell in secrecy and in a cloak of darkness. With the continued support of media representation like The New York Post, those with the same diabolical agenda will soon venture further into the mainstream. Many are already visible.
The desensitizing of America has been underway for decades now. Hundreds of years in the making. With a violent past as a nation that enslaved human beings, and a violent present that has seen America launch a preemptive strike against a defenseless country based on falsified documents, it is no wonder why The New York Post was able to get away with an “apology,” that in fact sounds more like a justification.
This is a symptom of a problem that Americans do not want to address now, especially with the historic election of America’s first African American president. There are some who believe that racial intolerance died on January 20, 2009 at 12 noon.
Obviously, this is not the case.
In the past few weeks, the media has experienced the whining musings of my personal icon maven, Oprah Winfrey. Yes, she is my shero. Yes, she is an icon to me and to a lot of other women. But what we have been subjected to as loyalists, is definitely unwarranted and borders on the line of pitiful.
For about two decades, loyalists of Oprah have followed her meteroic rise from local Chicago stardom, to the international mega star status she has worked hard for and enjoyed. The Oprah Winfrey Show is seen all over the world and people every where, majority of these women, love her. O Magazine is top-notch and is a great extension of the television experience at your finger tips. We applaud her good heart, giving spirit, warm laughter and life-changing fortitude.
The weight loss issue has been just that for years. An issue. An Oprah issue. We fell in love with Oprah back in 1986, not because she was 200 plus pounds, but because she was cool! She was fun! She represented the woman we all associated with and loved every single day. Oprah looked like us. We were overly excited when she lost the weight and I cried when she came onto the stage in her skinny jeans, dragging a wagon of meat fat.
This moment inspired me and a whole nation of folks to get fit. But right before our eyes, Oprah blew up again, and it was discouraging for a lot of us, but we still loved her and watched the show. Years have gone by and Oprah is preoccupied with an issue that hardly anyone cares about. This is Oprah’s issue and because she brought the public into a private place, she is making Oprah loyalists suffer right alongside her, and giving the press legitimate gossip to feed its’ celebrity-fueled engine.
Oprah once said that it is not what you are eating, but what is eating you. Oprah is still, at 50 something, not happy with herself. She says she’s happy as a clam. Obviously, that isn’t true. Oprah is not who she is based on her looks. Oprah is an icon simply because she took a dream she had for herself and implemented it. She took sistafriend conversations public. Then over the years, she developed her medium into a platform to really help her viewers orchestrate change in their lives.
However, instead of helping her viewers, maybe Oprah needs to tune into her true self. It is obvious that she has a lot irons in the fire and it can be difficult tyring to juggle a multitude of ventures. Yet, she is Oprah. She has the resources and the fortititude to, instead of micromanaging, allow her talented team to do what she pays them handsomely for.
And Oprah, please stop making excuses for your weight gain. We already know and understand. America has had this weight discussion for years now and though we’re not sympathetic, we are able to be empathetic. We as in America ‘we.’
The true moral of this column is simply that it is okay, Oprah. You re-gained some weight and unhappy and ashamed about it. So am I. I’m going through the exact same thing. So are a lot of those who have lost weight only to put the pounds back on. The key is to not dwell on the obvious but create an alternate outcome.
Perhaps this time around, Oprah, you will recognize that the journey to weight loss country is never ending. It is a lifelong quest. There is no need to be apolegetic about it. It is okay to be in the trenches with the rest of us. We don’t eat each other. We’re just human.
So are you.
November 18, 1978, the world watched in horror as helicopters flew over a makeshift community in the middle of the Guyana jungle. A sinister quilt of various colors lay quietly in the sun. The colors belonged to the victims of The Peoples Temple. The bodies of 909 People’s Temple members decomposed quickly and sadly in the South American sun. Out of the 909 seemingly apparent suicide victims, 234 were children. At the air strip in Port Kaituma, five people lay dead: Rep. Leo Ryan, NBC correspondent Don Harris, NBC sound man Bob Brown, newspaper photographer Greg Robinson and Temple defector Patty Harris. At the Temple House in Lamaha Gardens, Georgetown, People’s Temple member Sharon Amos, kills her three children then herself. In all, 918 human beings perished on November 18, 1978.
These events have come to be known as the Jonestown Massacre.
But why is it that the African American community then and now, refuse to stand still and acknowledge the gravity of what took place that fateful day? Why aren’t African American ministers of the cloth, churches and communities not setting this day aside to remember the tragedy that was the People’s Temple?
The People’s Temple and its’ founder, Rev. Jim Jones, was a predominately African American church. Jonestown itself was 70% African American. The People’s Temple was financially dependent on the Social Security checks that African American seniors provided. Out of the 200 Social Security checks that The People’s Temple received each month, 182 came from African Americans. This religious institution was funded totally by African Americans. Even though African Americans were the lifeline and the work force of Jonestown, they did not make up the administrative hierarchy. Caucasian People’s Temple members made up this elite group. But they, too died on November 18, 1978.
Is it the humiliation or wonder that African Americans of the cloth or the community itself feels that allows us to be silent on this day? More than likely it is the hypocrisy that African American churches exhibit today. If you take a look at some of the biggest African American churches in America today, you will find thousands of African American parishioners giving millions of dollars to their religious institution of choice. These parishioners contribute to the extravagant lifestyles of their leaders. They blindly follow religious leaders that talk the talk but seldom walk the walk.
These religious leaders lead their flock to the poor house while preaching to them about the riches of the Kingdom of Heavens. There are even some churches that make their parishioners pay big money to sit on the main level of the church. For a certain sum, you can have a name plaque on your seat. Some African American churches keep a public record on display of everyone that has or hasn’t tithe. For humiliation purposes, I am sure. On a certain level, these African American churches are doing the exact same thing that Jim Jones did to his followers: robbing them blind in the name of the Lord.
No one really wants to discuss the Jonestown Massacre in the African American community. The ball was dropped thirty years ago by African American so-called leaders and the African American church community. Who called out the U.S government for the blatant mishandling of the victims bodies being transported from South America? The U.S wanted to leave the Jonestown victims in a unmarked jungle grave in Guyana. The U.S also left the victims unattended to on the jungle floor for days until they could decide what to do with them. Only seven autopsies were performed. Two were shotgun victims. This included Jim Jones.
But what about the others? And why were these victims classified as suicide victims and not homicide victims? If this senseless tragedy was labeled what it was, perhaps the victims of Jonestown could have been treated with more humanity instead of becoming a public embarrassment? Could it be that since the majority of the Jonestown victims were African American, the U.S government and its’ officials decided that they were non-entities? Jim Jones was a serial killer. He killed 917 people on November 18, 1978. He is the most notorious serial killer in U.S history! It is simply amazing that African American leaders, politicians, activists and entertainers did not step up to be a voice of their African American brethren. Where was Jesse Jackson then?
African Americans who were poor and without hope flocked to the con of Jim Jones. They were set up for financial profit and ultimate control. Jim Jones took fear and roped it around his parishioners necks tightly. He turned his church into a circus of entertainment and buffoonery! We African Americans fell for it and then Jim Jones led us to the edge of insanity. Why wasn’t there a public outcry by the African American community, especially when Jim Jones started to load African Americans on a plane headed to Guyana? Jim Jones herded African Americans onto planes like Hitler loaded Jews unto trains bound for extermination camps.
The silence is deafening. An entire African American community wiped out without an investigation. There is absolutely no way that every member of the People’s Temple happily drank cyanide laced Kool-Aid humming a happy tune! These people were forced! They were murdered! If one can argue that it was suicide, I’ll give them the adult population of Jonestown. The 234 children? No. These children were murdered. Who are going to speak for the children?
What do we learn from the destruction of an entire African American community? First of all, we learn that African Americans are expendable and do not matter in the scheme of things. Second, self-proclaimed African American leaders and activists aren’t worth the soap box they preach on. Third, African Americans will stubbornly allow themselves to be led into a no-win situation to the death. Perhaps it is this shame that keeps African Americans silent on this day. The shame that deep inside of each and every last one of us, there is a part of us that want to belong to a collective so bad that we are willing to suffer for it.
However, the African American community of Jonestown proved beyond a shadow of the doubt that our basic human need to be accepted and loved can be deeply exploited and used against us.
I remember that week in November. I was 11. What I saw on the news that week was shocking and terrifying. I haven’t forgotten that picture. I haven’t forgotten the children who were my peers. I have not forgotten that the life that I live, they do not.
I remember Jonestown. Do you?