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Lessie Branch

Black News and the Black Community

Newspaper-Black-BoyThe very essence of the Black community is enshrined through Black news mediums.  They give expression to Black pluralistic cultural identity, allowing Blacks to pool and to share their resources.  The famous African proverb extols the notion that it takes a village to raise a child.  Black news mediums allow that village to operate on a national and global scale.  Black news mediums unify Black culture and provide Blacks with a valuable voice.

Historically, Black media has passed through many forms, but has always retained its central importance to Black cultural identity.  People are defined by the sum total of knowledge acquired and passed on by generations, which helps them deal with challenges unique to the group.  At first, Black cultural norms were transmitted orally, from one generation to the next.  When verbal communication was forbidden, Black messages were relayed through the rhythmic reverberations of the drums.  Black news mediums continue that sense of rhythmic reverberation even today, as Blacks continue to pass down Black cultural traditions through word of mouth.

Black news mediums constitute the life force that mobilizes the Black community to action.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself showed the power of Black radio when addressing the Association of Television and Radio Broadcasters.  By underscoring the intricate role Black radio played in helping keep the Civil Rights Movement alive, Dr. King emphasized how Black media served as a primary source of information.  He noted that while televisions and newspapers were popular and often times more effective mediums, they rarely articulated information that Black folks could relate to.

Even today, Black news mediums of all kinds help to unify the Black community.  A vital role that Black radio now fulfills is to provide current events and news to the portion of the Black community that may be visually impaired and cannot take advantage of news media in print.  Print news media in the form of Black newspapers, Black magazines, and Black websites are vital because they serve as visual stimuli that reinforce and indelibly imbue images of Black uniqueness while preserving the group’s indisputable contributions to history.

Not only do Black news mediums unify the Black community, they provide an alternative to the majority, mainstream media.  Majority news media in general can be a form of mind control.  The infamous former Minister of Information in Iraq, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, epitomizes this quite nicely:  he could tell the people of Iraq anything, they believed him without question.  As such, the people of Iraq were surprised to see the U.S. military in Baghdad, when their trusted news service transmitted over their television and radio sets stated that Iraq’s Republican Guard slaughtered them.  The power of a majority voice that is unchecked is dangerous; Black news mediums provide an important alternative voice which is crucial for American democracy.

Ultimately, Black news mediums are the keepers of the gate.  Not only do they shape Black perception of themselves by unifying Black history and cultures, but they play a crucial role in the fabric of American speech and democracy.  Black news mediums are the encapsulation of Black culture.

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