Tuesday, May 21, 2024


November 28, 2007 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) Last year the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta issued a report showing that the steady increase in the HIV/AIDS infection rate for African Americans had actually declined.

This was very good news! It suggested that at least in the area of slowing down the spread of a killer disease Blacks as a group were doing something right. Thus, as a journalist who stays pretty well abreast of what is taking place in the media, I was saddened and disappointed when this news received virtually no mention in the mainstream media and very little coverage even in Black media.

History teaches that if the news had been negative or the HIV/AIDS infection rate had increased significantly, it would have been given widespread coverage. The episode prompted the following question: Why is virtually all the news receiving massive coverage and specifically relating to African Americans usually negative?

An objective analysis suggests three primary reasons:

#1 – It appears that in order to feel good about themselves and reinforce a sense of white superiority, major media organizations delight in reporting how bad off Blacks in America are doing. It is not a media conspiracy. It is a media “attitude” which subconsciously seeks to reinforce in the general population a sense of white superiority. It is as if they are telling whites “No matter how good or bad Blacks are doing, you are better.”

A couple of weeks ago, the government released figures on longevity in America showing that on average whites (as a group) live longer than Blacks. But once you carefully look into the figures, what they actually showed was that white women live longer than Blacks. What was never reported by any media organization was that Black women, on average, actually outlive white men. The greatest drag on “Black” life expectancy is that Black men are failing to extend their lives. Black women are actually doing very well. But again, this was not reported.

#2 – Many of our leaders build their careers on emphasizing our problems. These problems do exist but they are too frequently over-emphasized because over-emphasis is the best way to shame politicians and get money and support from white liberal groups. I do not hate them for this approach. But we as a people must realize that this “shame white liberals in to helping us” approach inherently requires that we over-emphasize the problems and the negatives.

#3 – Severe and chronic problems do exist for our people. In fact, their long-term existence has generated a “culture of negative expectations.” In other words, we as African Americans often expect things to go wrong. Last week Duke University released a study showing that the Blacks most adversely affected (in terms of health) by discrimination were Blacks who were optimistic and trusting.

Amazingly, the study suggested that Blacks who were more cynical and expected to be discriminated against were not as adversely affected. In other words, many of us have built negative expectations into our very approach to life in America as some type of psychological defense mechanism. This mechanism may prevent our blood pressure from skyrocketing and damaging our hearts in the face of negatives but it also undermines hope and positive expectations.

However, with all the above being said, it is still up to us. The starting point for eventually generating positive news coverage is by doing positive things. Thus, the following should become our New Year’s resolutions:

A. Starting in 2008, you are to do something unexpectedly nice or constructive for someone or some group once a month, every month for the entire year.

B. Secondly, you are to correct at least one wrong each month. We have all made mistakes or failed to do something we should have done. The correction may range from an apology to paying a debt to a friend or family member.

These suggestions may sound a bit silly. But they are a start to generating good news and building new attitudes in Black America. It would also help if you insist that those discussing our problems also propose practical solutions.

By Robert N. Taylor

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