The media’s treacherous smear campaign against Black men continues this week with some insidious headlines.
The character assassination of Black men in the media vehemently continues with the New York Times most recent pack-leading story about Terrence Howard. This new culprit, who is the latest African American the papers have chosen to lampoon, is an actor with some formidable reputation in the Black community. He now stands accused by white media. They claim he is guilty of female abuse. They claim some women are ready to testify that he hit them; that Hollywood should fire him – prevent him from getting work as an actor!
“Take that paycheck from him,” they say.
That would also mean that he should be kicked off the lead TV role on the new show, Empire, where he plays a homophobic, sexist and abusive character. Even more, discussions surrounding Terrence Howard’s character off the screen has meandered into a more vociferous call for him to willingly address the allegations of which none is yet filed in court. White media claims that Terrence Howard has a history of abuse and that they have women in line to testify against him.
The meme in the New York Times is not new. In fact this is an age-old practice in white media to stoke the fear of Black men amongst the citizenry of the United States. Bill Cosby is a rapist, they claim. Terrence Howard is a woman beater, they claim. Adrian Peterson is a child abuser, they claim and Black men in the NFL, like Ray Rice, just routinely beat their girlfriends. So they claim.
When was the last time these white-owned publications ever presented a Black man in any positive light? To dig a positive story about a Black man out of the media, you would have to be that drop of water that fell into the ocean and tried to find your fellow drop of water.
So fanciful and unnecessary are the aspersions cast on young Black men and the older men the young ones look up to. Even children are not spared the brunt of white media insults.
A young boy, 12 year old Tamir Rice, who was murdered by a white cop while playing with a toy gun in a children’s park in Cleveland, Ohio, is the most recent such callousness. Rather than press for the white cop to be charged for his barbarism, white media was interested in Tamir’s background. It is hard—impossible, really—to justify taking seriously, and acting upon, the clear search for blame in an innocent child. 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by white police in two seconds. His parents’ backgrounds, violent or not, had no bearing on his death, but obviously that was what white media was interested in. Period.
With the War on Drugs constantly being lampooned by influential activists as an illegal War on Blacks which has by any stretch of a racist’s imagination, resulted in the mass incarceration and disenfranchisement of the majority of Black men, winding down and white private prison owners and their appetites being scrutinized, it smacks of arrogance that white media would find this lonely embrace of Satan once again – paint and color the age old perceived American ‘Black problem’ as still a ‘big fat’ problem and turn their goodness into badness; impugn the integrity and reputation of Black male icons and spread their innocence across the country as guilt; turn every accusation against a well-known Black man into top headline news and plaster across the country claims that Black men are by nature abusive; plant ignorance where excellence and receptivity could prevail, and even call Black men devils where others might see angels.
When Trayvon Martin was murdered, the New York Times, which has long claimed a liberal reputation, called Martin the devil – ‘he was no angel’, and there was no uproar but applause in white country. When Michael Brown was shot dead in cold blood for absolutely no law enforcement reason by another white man in uniform, the New York Times called out with the phrase, ‘he was no angel’. As in Michael Brown was the devil. When Eric Garner was choked to death on camera by white cops, again the New York Times called out the man, who was minding his own business as a United States citizen, and described him as ‘no angel’.
Along with this meme came several white police shootings of Black men, many fatal and others miraculously escaping death. Luckily these police killings of Black men in America sparked some riots across the country. But they didn’t stop white cops from killing some more Black men.
All along, the New York Times and co. still kept painting the victims, Black men, as no angels as if they were deserving of their deaths.
Then the propaganda to attack influential Black men in the media kicked a new gear in white-owned papers across the American landscape. From Bill Cosby through to Terrence Howard, the New York Times peppered its audience with long and drawn out NFL cases involving two Black football players – Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.
To see a Black man on the front page of the New Times doing anything human is a rarity. The only time the New York Times and its entourage write or speak about Black men is when there are demonstrations about a Black man murdered by a white cop or vigilante, in which case the paper comes out to let America know those murdered Black men were ‘no angels’. Or when an influential Black man is accused for some sort of abuse – domestic or otherwise.
What next? Or better yet, who’s next? Who is the next Black man to get on the chopping board of white cops or white media to be lashed at? A colleague of mine with whom I regularly commune on Central Park has coined the term – Operation Blacklash – as the modus operandi of the New York Times and Co.
White media has always since slavery been a ‘Black-men-never-do-good-media,’ and we know it, but this new avalanche of bad Black men in the papers at the back of so many who are being murdered by white cops in America for absolutely no law enforcement reason is what has become most frightening. Lest they know, we discuss these issues in our communities and at our private gatherings. We know they have launched an operation on us to smear our character. That much is clear now.
In a recent article by a sister, Rebecca Carroll, in the New York Times, she claims that the goal is not to shame Howard or Bill Cosby. But she insists that for every question Howard has avoided about allegations, he has received a sumptuous paycheck. And with that paycheck she claims comes further evidence that Howard hit women, and Bill Cosby raped them!
Stephen A Smith of ESPN is another one. He would deride Black athletes who test positive for a painkiller like marijuana – “you are paid all this millions and you can’t stay of the weeeeeeeeeddd?”
It’s all about money isn’t it? Somehow when we make money, we should be thankful. Somehow we should quietly let white men make the rules here in America, at will, and allow them to decide when it is appropriate for us, Black men, to take a painkiller or not? We should be grateful white men have given us a chance to play football or basketball?
I do not doubt that Stephen A Smith and Rebecca Carroll are grateful for what the white owners of the New York Times and ESPN give them on a bi-weekly basis – paychecks. But their understanding of the problems we face in America as Black people is completely undermined by that conflict of interest!
The New York Times and its owners already have plenty of money. And we, Black men, are central in their making of that kind of money! So why even bring up money?
Further, the age-old argument that somehow Black celebrities should serve as role models for the rest of us and that they should be held to a higher standard of conduct than an ordinary white citizen, is also what has become the white media weapon against Black lives – a new paradigm shift in operation Blacklash. If they can impugn the integrity of Black celebrities, especially Black men – lash at them in the media and chop them through law enforcement – then they can take away our lives too.
When in fact wealthy, famous, and privileged white people always have been able to indulge in their behaviors with something more like gross impunity – as in serving young white toddlers ‘medical marijuana’ – without regard for law enforcement or any media backlash.
The only asymmetry here is that white media as it stands has been successful in enlisting some Black people to do their dirty job. These Black people wash our dirty linings in white public. Only, we are unable – because we were never allowed to even own land post-slavery – to muster such formidable enterprises like white men do to be able to also hire white people who can wash their dirty linings in our public sphere.
So the lashing at Black men through law enforcement and through the media continues with full relentless force – and they probably call it Operation Blacklash.