Mainstream media doesn’t like Black Women *Kanye Voice
Is it truthful? Is it informative? Will it help the public think deeper on a particular issue? Is it newsworthy? These are questions those in the media must ask themselves before covering different stories and topics. So when a cop rapes and sexually assaults 12 Black women and one minor, who is Black, and national network news isn’t covering the original story or trial, the public has to question the integrity and values of media. Like clockwork, the US media machine has showed the public that the lives of Black women are not relevant to the nation.
The relationship between mainstream media and Black Americans has been a tumultuous one and because of that, throughout history the Black community has taken it upon themselves to create media outlets of their own. Mainstream media hasn’t gotten it right, and 2015 has been no different. The country has witnessed race relations return to the center of the national conversation; however, in true mainstream media fashion, they omitted relevant details to our movement for their TV ratings. As a result of the power of social media, the voices of Black Americans were amplified as the community took media matters into their own hands, and truthfully I prefer it that way.
Last week, former Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was found guilty on 18 of the 36 rape and sexual assault counts against him, brought forth by 13 Black women. Because television news doesn’t see the correlation between this and the #BlackLivesMatter Movement, this particular story from investigation to trial was never publicized through this medium. Thanks to Twitter and women, such as Feminista Jones, who use their platform to discuss the issues related to Black women–issues television news won’t discuss–there is an abundance of online stories and tweets about this case.
Social media in conjunction with citizen journalism is what will write the narrative of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement that began in August of 2014. The Daniel Holtzclaw investigation and trial was the nail in the coffin that will close the opportunity for mainstream media to accurately depict the Movement and struggles of Black people in this country.
Similar to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s, the imagery of today’s movement is very male-centered. When we talk about police brutality it is often depicted in the way that it impacts the men in our community, rarely highlighting how it impacts Black women. The case against Daniel Holtzclaw was an example of how state violence is just as dangerous to Black women. Yet, because so much of the media, and our country’s history, are dominated by stories by men and about men I can see why this didn’t make the cut as “newsworthy”.
Many Black Americans expressed their frustration, disgust, and disappointment in media as an institution regarding the lack of coverage on the Holtzclaw trial. While those feelings are valid, what did we expect? It sounds harsh, but personally I’m officially over these major television news networks with their token Black correspondents that they only call to sit on a panel when a major city is full of unrest. If media is only willing to cover the Holtzclaw case as long as there are some strong visuals of Black unrest and Black unhappiness, then I almost don’t even want them reporting on it.
If we want reform, then yes, let’s work on making sure that our voices are heard and our stories are accurately told within mainstream media. But if we want revolution, which is what we need, then it’s time to amplify our own voices and tell our own stories.
AG is a staff writer for the Afrikan Black Coalition. You can follow her on twitter here