4 Times Ida B. Wells-Barnett Warned Blacks Against Trusting White Media

ida b. wells

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember When Black People Booed Coretta Scott King for Supporting a Sell Out?

In Black politics, as with life, we tend to create our own sacred cows: ideas or people who are insulated from future criticism. Given the rise of prominent black leaders, as well as leaders who just happen to be black, it is easy to fall into the intellectually lazy trap of believing this is the way it’s always been. Although blacks may have a history of selecting largely symbolic leaders from a designated pool of the Black Elite, it is not true that those leaders have always been viewed as being beyond reproach. I was reminded of this while reading The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and Rise and Decline of Black Politics
by Fredrick C. Harris.

During the 1984 Democratic Convention, Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s people attempted to yield concessions from Walter Mondale. They wanted, among other things, support for the elimination of an electoral rule that disadvantaged black candidates in the South. Mondale refused, then he sent Andrew Young out to make a speech defending him at the convention. Young was “met with boos and hisses by Jackson delegates” for behaving as a sellout.

coretta scott kingIn another meeting, the late Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., defended Andrew Young, and King was met with a similar response:

In a meeting before the Black Delegate Caucus the next day, Coretta Scott King chastised Jackson delegates for mistreating Young…

Catcalls, boos, and hisses erupted from the floor. When Mrs. King mentioned her long involvement in the civil rights movement, a heckler shouted, “What about today?” When she stated that everyone was entitled to free expression, another heckler quipped, “It don’t justify prostitution.”

Based on his own words,  Young received little for defending Mondale at the convention:

Even Andrew Young, who had stuck his neck out for Mondale on the second primary plank, expressed dismay, complaining that Mondale’s advisors were all “smart-ass white boys who think they know it all.”

 

8 Ways to Be More Like James Baldwin

James Baldwin 3.jpg

1.) Take care of yourself at all costs:

“I knew what it meant to be white and I knew what it meant to be a James Baldwin 3n*gger, and I knew what was going to happen to me. My luck was running out. I was going to go to jail, I was going to kill somebody or be killed. My best friend had committed suicide two years earlier, jumping off the George Washington Bridge.”

2.) Know thyself. Evolve.

“I had to go through a time of isolation in order to come to terms with who and what I was, as distinguished from all the things I’d been told I was. Right around 1950 I remember feeling that I’d come through something, shed a dying skin and was naked again.”

3.) Understand who people are and what they want from you:

“People don’t have any mercy. They tear you limb from limb, in the name of love. Then, when you’re dead, when they’ve killed you by what they made you go through, they say you didn’t have any character. They weep big, bitter tears – not for you. For themselves, because they’ve lost their toy.” Another Country


4.) Never view yourself as a victim:

“All of this had quite a bit to do with the direction I took as a writer, because it seemed to me that if I took the role of a victim then I was simply reassuring the defenders of the status quo; as long as I was a victim they could pity me and add a few more pennies to my home-relief check.” The Paris Review.

5.) Embrace who you are and where you come from:

“People can’t, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents. Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life.”Giovanni’s Room (Vintage International)

 

6.) Use your history to empower you:

“To accept one’s past – one’s history – is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.” The Fire Next Time

7.) You become what you hate, so it’s best not to give quarter to hate:

I was very wounded and I was very dangerous because you become what you hate. It’s what happened to my father and I didn’t want it to happen to me. His hatred was suppressed and turned against himself. He couldn’t let it out—he could only let it out in the house with rage,…

8.) Remember that no matter what you say, or how eloquent, you still don’t speak for all black people:

I don’t consider myself a spokesman—I have always thought it would be rather presumptuous.