Nowadays, some in the African-American community snub their noses at black media just as quickly as they balk at the need for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The idea that black media and black institutions are irrelevant is the canned answer offered by those within the community who see the emulation of mainstream culture as the end game.
Unlike many today, black America’s foremost journalist–Ida B. Wells Barnett–was very clear on the perils of trusting white media to disseminate information.
Wells-Barnett witnessed blacks getting blamed for their own lynchings, in much the same way that blacks today are put on trial whenever they’re gunned down by police or vigilantes.
Here is Ida B. Wells Barnett in her own words, offering reasons for why blacks shouldn’t trust white media:
1.) They’re Biased
“No other news goes out to the world save that which stamps us as a race of cutthroats, robbers and lustful wild beasts.”
2.) They Lie
“The Afro-American papers are the only ones which will print the truth, and they lack means to employ agents and detectives to get at the facts.”
3.) They Ignore the Facts
“The Daily Commercial and Evening Scimitar of Memphis, Tenn., are owned by leading business men of that city, and yet, in spite of the fact that there had been no white woman in Memphis outraged by an Afro-American, and that Memphis possessed a thrifty law-abiding, property-owning class of Afro-Americans the Commercial of May 17, under the head of “More Rapes, More Lynchings” gave utterance to the following: The lynching of three Negro scoundrels reported in our dispatches from Anniston, Ala., for a brutal outrage committed upon a white woman will be a text for much comment on “Southern barbarism” by Northern newspapers; but we fancy it will hardly prove effective for campaign purposes among intelligent people.”
4.) White Papers Make Excuses for Murdering Blacks:
“In its issue of June 4, the Memphis Evening Scimitar gives the following excuse for lynch law: Aside from the violation of white women by Negroes, which is the outcropping of a bestial perversion of instinct, the chief cause of trouble between the races in the South is the Negro’s lack of manners. In the state of slavery he learned politeness from association with white people, who took pains to teach him. Since the emancipation came and the tie of mutual interest and regard between master and servant was broken, the Negro has drifted away into a state which is neither freedom nor bondage. Lacking the proper inspiration of the one and the restraining force of the other he has taken up the idea that boorish insolence is independence, and the exercise of a decent degree of breeding toward white people is identical with servile submission.”
The words of Wells-Barnett could’ve just as easily been written in 2015 as they were during the Red Summer.