Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Man, The Myth, The Factor

Recently, there's been some uproar regarding Bill O'Reilly's comments. Last September 19th, Bill O'Reilly was describing his Harlem experience with the Reverend Al Sharpton on his radio show. He expressed some surprise at how similar the environment in Sylvia's, the renown soul food restaurant, to other "white" restaurants was. This last point is what several media outlets took issue with. How could O'Reilly live in New York and be surprised at Blacks acting civil? Why would he seem to equate his experience at Sylvia's to some foreign endeavor in Istanbul?

Both sides need to be taken to task. Today, has an AP piece about how there are more Blacks and Latinos in prison cells than in college dorms. Sit back and let that last sentence settle in. Blacks and Latinos make up roughly twelve percent of the nation's population apiece, well over fifty percent of the prison system, and are a dwindling minority on college campuses. This is all acceptable because the media chooses to continue to normalize criminal behavior with Black and Brown skin, thus making it acceptable to fill prisons with "them" and college campuses equivalent to Burma (or Myanmar). Meanwhile, Bill O'Reilly, a member of the media, would rather continue his fight against gangsta rap than confront the issue head on with some hard-hitting questions. How is this acceptable to most of society? What are the impacts on the several communities and what is society's obligation in this pandemic? Those questions aren't as sexy as missing white girls or Dennis Miller's diatribes.

Instead of acting upset over what O'Reilly said, maybe the folks at Media Matters, CNN, et al., should look in the mirror. The fact of the matter is they'd be as surprised as O'Reilly that on Sylvia's walls, you'll see photos of former presidents, elected officials, A-list celebrities of all colors and culture, and a who's who of American public life. Yet, the Fourth Estate would prefer to continue its crusade against Bill O'Reilly than to deal with actual problems that affect the Black community. Exactly what harm does Media Matters expects to befall upon Black folks of Harlem due to O'Reilly's words? None.

Meanwhile, O'Reilly is still out there putting down rap music. Because rap music, of course, is a genuine phenomenon that praises nihilism, that puts a premium on violence of all sorts, and is responsible for the many ills of Blacks.

Last February, we celebrated a filmmaker by granting him the highest award he can be given. The film for which he was awarded was called The Departed. America created its African Americans, and its African Americans know where to look for inspiration.

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