Making an invisible minority less invisible
By Walter Brasch
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Nov 21, 2008, 00:24
During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama was called
mentally unstable; his supporters were called unpatriotic. At Sarah Palin
rallies, in newspaper letters-to-the-editor, on conservative radio and TV talk
shows, supporters spewed hatred, resorting to the Bush tactics of fear
mongering to support their own candidate.
At many rallies, the word �kill� was often shouted. The
ultra right wing, which infiltrated the McCain campaign, told us Obama is a
(gasp!) Muslim, not understanding that not only isn�t Obama a Muslim, but that
the Constitution prohibits religion as a test for federal office. Falsely
linking Muslim to a terrorist, these ultra-patriots said that Obama pals around
with terrorists. They said Obama is a thief, a liar, and a scoundrel.
Not so subtly disguised beneath a lot of the hatred is the
reality that Obama is multiracial, and that means he isn�t white. Some of the
racism isn�t even covert. In comments to newspapers and on radio, Obama was
called �Monkey ears� and other terms that would denigrate every person of
color. At one rally, a McCain�Palin supporter waved around a stuffed monkey
with a blue-and-white headband with one word: Obama. It didn�t even take an
investigative journalist to find supporters who brazenly claimed they just
couldn�t vote for anyone who�s �colored�; many even used even more derogatory
Ironically, although the establishment media did an
admirable job of covering speeches, they did a poor job of covering the racial
hatred present at rallies. It was up to sites like Keystone Progress, which
videotaped numerous rallies and posted them on You Tube, to help a nation
better understand not only the political division but the racial hatred that
still exist in the country. Mike Morrill of Keystone Progress says that he
noted a significant difference not only between the Obama�Biden and McCain-Palin
rallies -- �hope versus fear� -- but more racist anger in the rallies where
Palin was the primary speaker.
There is still that anger and fear among a part of the
conservative movement, but something changed with the election.
On television, you�ll find there are more blacks in TV
commercials. More blacks are being interviewed. The news media have developed a
fascination with blacks who were in the Civil Rights movement of the �60s. Blacks
whose parents were in the civil rights movement. Blacks who were first time
Barack Obama�s campaign and election have not only
revitalized America�s black population, they have revitalized media interest in
For a couple of centuries, most newsrooms were staffed only
by white men. And then there were a few women. And then a few other minorities.
Blacks. Latinos. Asian-Americans. Native Americans. Jews. And an occasional
Buddhist or Muslim. Staffing has come a long way. Almost 14 percent of
newsrooms have at least one minority, up from 4 percent 30 years ago, according
to studies conducted by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. However,
one-third of America is composed of minorities, so there is still a long way to
go. Even today, four decades after Martin Luther King�s assassination and with
a heavy campaign by several journalism organizations, about 40 percent of all
newspaper newsrooms still have no minorities.
In many rural and suburban cities, just about the only time
a newspaper reader sees a minority in a picture is not for an achievement, with
the exception of the sports pages, but during an arrest.
For a long time, radio believed that a white male voice was
more authoritative than a female voice, or a voice that sounded black. For most
of TV�s first 20 years, there were no blacks on air. And when the Civil Rights
movement in the 1960s shocked America into realizing that blacks might be just
as competent as whites, TV reluctantly hired blacks -- as long as they looked,
acted, and spoke white.
We�re now seeing more coverage of blacks about blacks. If it
isn�t a �fad,� if the media, especially TV, don�t return to their never-ending
focus upon celebrities and fluff, maybe in four years there will be more
minorities in our newsrooms, and Americans will understand that most blacks
aren�t on welfare, in gangs, or in prison.
Dr. Brasch is the author of the
recently-published �Sinking the Ship
of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush,� available at amazon.com,
bn.com, and numerous independent and chain stores. He is professor of
journalism at Bloomsburg University. You may contact him through his website, www.walterbrasch.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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