Join Date: Dec 2004
Re: Joe Morgan
Whitlock Provides Diversion From Imus Issue
Media Laps Up Attack on Black Leadership, Hip Hop
By KEITH T. CLINKSCALES
Editor's note: Keith T. Clinkscales is the general manager of ESPN The Magazine and a member of the Founding Team of Vibe Magazine.
The mainstream media thanks you, Jason Whitlock. You have provided them with a black-sponsored excuse for the entire Don Imus situation. Thanks to the beautiful diversionary tactic you provided, even Meredith Viera is stepping to Al Sharpton.
Instead of taking this watershed moment in media and culture and honing in on the true cause of the Imus situation, we are now discussing 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and Young Jeezy.
Despite your admonition of Jesse Jackson and Sharpton, the Imus situation has little to do with the African-American fight for true economic and social equality. Imus was and should be a moment to hold a mirror to thousands of media outlets in this country where black America does not have a single voice that decides what gets on, and more importantly, stays on the air.
Jason, your misdirection has given the mainstream media a pair of dancing shoes. For one of the first times in history, black people mattered. Not to the media, but to the advertisers - the true invisible hand of the media marketplace - who spoke loudly and clearly. Procter and Gamble said "no." Then Staples said "no." Then several others followed their lead. They were not hassled by Revs. Sharpton or Jackson. They knew this situation was going to be a no-win for themselves and their shareholders. Eventually, the reverends may have picketed them, but their conscience spoke to them long before picket lines had to.
Jason, for you to question the validity of Vivian Stringer's press conference and to complain about its length does not consider the extraordinary circumstances that she was thrust into as the leader of those young women. To suggest this press conference was some type of recruiting ploy, is as cowardly as the attack that Imus perpetrated in the first place.
The mainstream media also thanks you, Jason because by attacking Sharpton and Jackson you are doing the dirty work that no white person can credibly do. It is such an annoying chore to find enough black journalists around to credibly disseminate the type of disinformation that helps people look away from the real problems and focus on the irrelevant. In the soundbite and headline environment that we live in, it is so easy to reduce the incredibly complex problem of race relations in America to Rev. Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the dreaded influence of Hip Hop. As you watch the talk shows and the internet discussions too much discourse is addressed with this whining phrase ... "what about what the rappers say?"
You say that Jesse, Al and Vivian don’t have the heart to mount a legitimate campaign against the "real black folk killas?" While Jesse and Al are not perfect, they have put it on the line year after year for black people. Both have served jail time for their beliefs. Their use of the microphones and the media has been to provide a voice to the voiceless among us. While you may not want them to speak for you, there are many black people who are happy that somebody - anybody - will speak powerfully about their concerns. For every Tawana Brawley reference, you can cite ten Amadou Diallos, Rodney Kings, and Sean Bells. Coach Stringer exists in a world where less than eight percent of college basketball coaches are black women. And often to the detriment of her progress, she has been a consistent supporter of women’s athletics while stridently maintaining a pro-black voice.
An individual with elementary knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement would know that in their day, Martin, and certainly Malcolm were not universally loved by their black peers. There were many critics who from the comfort of their critical perches, would high-mindedly discuss their "relevance" and just "who they spoke for." What Martin and Malcolm provided more than anything else was the courage to agitate the system. In the process of agitation, the cleansing forces of righteousness helped America to get to a better place. The agitation is not always pleasant, nor is it rarely universally loved.
You are not agitation. You are flowing with the currents. Black men have an uneasy relationship with the media, from Pacman to Pac, some of it is from their own behavior ... other times they simply "fit the description." You are breaking no new journalistic ground by speaking your version of truth about black men. Your apocalyptic notion of young black men as the "new KKK" again fuels fear, confusion and hatred.
I would agree with you Jason that all is not right with Hip Hop. The fantasy gangsta culture that has been created in the modern hip-hop era is an incredible perversion of the transformative power of Hip Hop culture. You will also get no argument from me that the music and much of the culture has moved into an advanced state of misogyny, and no amount of "I'm just keepin’ it real" street excuses can diminish that fact. However, the success of Hip hop music has developed a substantial economy and a unique power that much of the worlds media utilizes for both good and evil.
To be fair and balanced, you cannot decry the music and the culture without acknowledging that it has created phenomenal opportunities for many young black men and women in entertainment and media, some have become millionaires, many have provided inspiration and leadership to young people. Countless jobs have been created, and the spirit of entrepreneurship has been promulgated by urban lore of companies like Bad Boy, FUBU, Phat Farm and many others. It is fine, and necessary to be critical of hip hop, but since it has provided so much to people like us, I would humbly ask you to utilize your power to transform the game.
As the discussion rages about Imus and the fallout extends into death threats and other equally disconcerting reactions, let's not wrap up the problem in the neat package of hip-hop’s culture. Yes, hip-hop has issues, but so does much of our entertainment and media. The body count on the Sopranos continues to climb, yet I hear no one blaming James Gandolfini for the true gangster policy that the United States has in conducting the war in the Middle East. Why not? Tony Soprano is a character, not unlike the Snoop character played by Calvin Broadus or the Jay-Z character played by Shawn Carter. Dragging Dave Chappelle or any other comedian who utilizes words from the magic bag of racial controversy is merely another diversion to the core issue. Could you imagine the New York Times declaring that Bush’s war policy is influenced by the Sopranos? ... fuhgedaboutit.
Jason, the fundamental problem that created the Imus situation is a lack of people of color, journalists with your intellect, courage and voice sitting in a seat of power. If there was someone like you in the Imus control rooms or in the executive management of CBS Radio, the response and the consequences would occur internally instead of having to wait for Reverend Sharpton or Jackson to get on the phone. When the American media questions the business need for a diverse staff, this Imus situation is the clear unmitigated answer.