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ePluribus: America is an on-line contemporary American culture magazine that incorporates the original concept of our nation's motto to provide cultural news coverage of America.

If True, Jussie Smollett Only Proves The Thirst Is Real

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

I have to admit, when news broke of the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett, I had to Google the name first. I haven’t seen the popular show Empire; however, I am familiar with the series created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. Mainly because I love reading about Taraji P. Henson and her character Cookie that has taken a life of its own. Now I know Smollett plays Cookie’s middle son Jamal, who is gay.  Here’s my other confession; I was suspicious from the start. Organic skepticism aside, the story just didn’t sound believable to me considering time and setting. It sounded like a lie. Not a white, black, blue or pink lie but a big fat lie like the ones our dear leader Donald Trump buoys on to con the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump sniffed it out of Smollett’s lie hole like a terrier after a rat, automatically prompting him to chime in on the controversy. It’s true folks, the 45th president of the United States is not just the best liar on earth; Smollett proves he’s also the best lie magnet…allegedly.

Each day, following the alleged homophobic and racist attack and the outpouring of support from celebrities and politicians, my skepticism grew, along with many others who voiced their opinions on social media. The incident reported by Smollett even birthed a new media campaign addressing the real issues facing the LGBTQ community. The NowThis video, (It’s been taken down) supporting Jussie and condemning the homophobic attack is unfortunately relevant in today’s society, with or without Smollett making up a hate crime. And, if it’s proven to be a hoax concocted by Smollett to remain relevant as an Empire character or gay black hero among people of color and the gay community, he’s done irreversible harm to the larger struggle for human rights. Smollett, chasing the predictable outcome lure that promises fame, more fortune, more likes and followers, more time under the glare of flashing lights, red carpet events and awards shows, is crashing like a shooting star. And, Smollett is a star, don’t you know. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and now he’s paying a heavy price for his Hollywood moment. It’s hard to comprehend but Smollett should only remind us that Hollywood is a hoax, too.  And, despite how tantalizing it is to use this cheap trick to further or discredit the arguments around the many social movements of our time, Smollett’s alleged behavior has nothing to do with US but everything to do with HIM. He’s the product of our new digital world…the era of social media and a real thirst or desperation for attention; good or bad. They say the thirst is real. Well, Smollett proves he’s not just thirsty; he’s parched. The man needs a Big Gulp and a dose of reality, not our sympathy.

A lot of people are disappointed and point to Black History Month as a symbol of the alleged incident being a deeper pain, like a gut punch to the black community. Others have maintained their support for the actor and raise the other real issue of a fractured relationship between Chicago police and the community they serve.  All of these are valid points and worthy of deeper analysis. However, in legal terms and in the court of public opinion; it’s like coming to court with dirty hands or committing a wrong to shine light on what’s right. It doesn’t work. It’s clear; Smollett’s alleged hoax carries real consequences. And if his aim was to sip from the “Thirst Cup,” he’s finding out the hard way that bad behavior still comes with punishment, despite what Trump is doing. We’ve been here before with the likes of Smollett. Milli Vanilli blamed it on the rain. What will Smollett blame this nonsense on? Although dated, the wisdom here is still to Be Like Mike … not like Trump.

The Rating Game: The Unintended Consequences of the Conservative Revolution

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this essay are those of French Philosopher, Michel Feher and do not reflect the views and opinions of ePa. Feher is founding editor and publisher of Zone Books

 

BY MICHEL FEHER

 

Elected on the promise to make the “free world” vibrant again, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan claimed a mandate to impose market discipline on everyone. The Iron Lady and her Great Communicator friend faulted their predecessors for responding to the restive 1960s with inordinate minimum wage and social benefits raises – thereby causing inflation to soar. They also blamed the CEOs of large corporations for balancing the wishes of shareholders with the demands of labor unions and consumers’ advocates – thereby causing profits to wane. Finally, they lamented that the propensity of politicians and employers to placate “special interests” groups enticed wage earners to rely more on wealth redistribution and collective bargaining than on their own hard work and initiative.

The architects of the “conservative revolution” argued that harnessing the power of the state to help markets do their job was not only good for business: more importantly, it was about encouraging the entire population to think and behave like self-reliant entrepreneurs. In their view, awakening the entrepreneurial spirit of every citizen required the creation of an environment where private companies, public administrations and individual consumers in need of resources would have to compete for private funding. To that end, they proceeded to lift the constraints that had hitherto limited the transnational circulation of capital, kept the various branches of the financial industry separate and checked the creativity of financial engineering.

Deregulations certainly enabled financial institutions to act as the arbiters of valuable endeavors. However, the order of priorities that resulted from the ascendency of finance turned out to be quite different than what its political facilitators had envisioned. For financial markets, as John Maynard Keynes warned, do not operate like other markets. More than coordinating transactions, pooling predictions is their specific function: thus the signals they produce are not prices representing the outcome of negotiations between buyers and sellers but ratings expressing the speculations of investors on the value of a project. Moreover, Keynes added, what investors speculate upon is not the eventual yield of an initiative but its immediate impact on the attention of their peers. Corporations were the first type of economic agents to internalize the guessing game of their potential backers. For almost four decades, CEOs have been less intent on maximizing commercial profits – conceived as the difference between sales revenues and production costs – than on bolstering their company’s financial credit – measured by the market value of its stock. Unrealized capital gain, rather than operating cash flow, is the metrics of success – which explains why firms use their resources to “buy back” their own shares.

The primacy of ratings is not confined to the private sector. Keen on improving the attractiveness of the companies based on their territory, 1980s governments catered to investors’ preferences for business-friendly tax codes and flexible labor markets. As the subsequent loss of fiscal revenues forced them to borrow the funds they could no longer collect, elected officials have become increasingly dependent on the value of their sovereign debt in the bond market. Maintaining the trust of bondholders is arguably the main concern of policy makers, over and above economic growth or the welfare of their fellow citizens. In time, the sway of shareholders and bondholders’ valuations has extended to households and individuals. Employers and political leaders who vie for investors’ attention can no longer provide lifelong careers and a sturdy safety net. It is now up to job applicants to make themselves valuable, either by advertising highly prized skills and an appealing address book or, failing that, by displaying unlimited availability and flexibility.

Furthermore, once faced with precarious jobs and receding social benefits, large swaths of the population have been forced to borrow, whether to access housing, study, or simply survive. Yet anyone hoping to obtain a loan must offer guarantees. In the absence of sizeable possessions, aspiring borrowers rely both on the estimated worth of what they want to acquire and the reputation for reliability that they have earned by repaying previous loans. There again, being deemed creditworthy is what enables people to navigate our brave new world. Altogether, the conduct fashioned by the speculations of investors scarcely fit the entrepreneurial type that the conservative revolution was supposed to mold. Pro-market reforms purported to create a world where capital owners, wage earners and even the unemployed would envision their lives as a profit-seeking business, calculating the cost and eventual benefit of every decision. In contrast, financialized capitalism breeds credit-seeking portfolio managers primarily attentive to the appraisal of the assets composing their material and human capital.

In the last fifteen years, the purchase of speculative ratings has spread beyond the economic sphere. Resorting to the same technologies as global finance, social media have also adopted its unique mode of valuation: online friends, followers and reviews attest to the advent of a culture predicated on the relentless pursuit of credit. Far from setting us free to pursue our self-interest, as the conservative revolution had pledged, the proliferation of platforms where people are invited to “share” their experiences, opinions, competences and needs compels us to catch and retain the interest of others – to generate bullish speculations about what we own, who we know and how we are. As ratings inform the various realms of our lives, creditworthiness gains political prominence as well. In China, the government already assigns an aggregate social credit score to its citizens – and denies them access to public utilities and programs when they rate poorly. In the US, Donald Trump has earned the undying support of his core voters by vowing to valorize some key components of their portfolio. Under his administration, being or standing by a nationalist, gun-carrying white male is, once again, a truly valuable asset.

Allocating credit is not the uncontested privilege of authoritarian and populist leaders, however. Some of the most vibrant exponents of the resistance to Trump’s agenda, from Black Lives Matter and #MeToo to the March for Our Lives, are equally focused on producing and circulating their own rating system. Their purpose is not only to discredit behaviors protected by institutional prerogatives, gender norms, and powerful lobbies but also to reappraise the lives that these behaviors depreciate. Though hardly indifferent to specific reforms regarding police practices, workplace environment and gun control, these budding movements understand that deciding who and what deserve credit has become the decisive stake of political struggles. For them, pervasive ratings are not a curse to reverse but a challenge to meet. Speculation is far too important to be left to professionals.

 

Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman?

Editor’s Note: This historical account of Sojourner Truth, (1797 -1883) by National Women’s History Museum was edited by Debra Michals, PhD. 

 

A former slave, Sojourner Truth became an outspoken advocate for abolition, temperance, and civil and women’s rights in the nineteenth century. Her Civil War work earned her an invitation to meet President Abraham Lincoln in 1864.

Truth was born Isabella Bomfree, a slave in Dutch-speaking Ulster County, New York in 1797. She was bought and sold four times, and subjected to harsh physical labor and violent punishments. In her teens, she was united with another slave with whom she had five children, beginning in 1815. In 1827—a year before New York’s law freeing slaves was to take effect—Truth ran away with her infant Sophia to a nearby abolitionist family, the Van Wageners. The family bought her freedom for twenty dollars and helped Truth successfully sue for the return of her five-year-old-son Peter, who was illegally sold into slavery in Alabama.

Truth moved to New York City in 1828, where she worked for a local minister. By the early 1830s, she participated in the religious revivals that were sweeping the state and became a charismatic speaker. In 1843, she declared that the Spirit called on her to preach the truth, renaming herself Sojourner Truth.

As an itinerant preacher, Truth met abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. Garrison’s anti-slavery organization encouraged Truth to give speeches about the evils of slavery. She never learned to read or write. In 1850, she dictated what would become her autobiography—The Narrative of Sojourner Truth—to Olive Gilbert, who assisted in its publication. Truth survived on sales of the book, which also brought her national recognition. She met women’s rights activists, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, as well as temperance advocates—both causes she quickly championed.

In 1851, Truth began a lecture tour that included a women’s rights conference in Akron, Ohio, where she delivered her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech. In it, she challenged prevailing notions of racial and gender inferiority and inequality by reminding listeners of her combined strength (Truth was nearly six feet tall) and female status. Truth ultimately split with Douglass, who believed suffrage for formerly enslaved men should come before women’s suffrage; she thought both should occur simultaneously.

During the 1850’s, Truth settled in Battle Creek, Michigan, where three of her daughters lived. She continued speaking nationally and helped slaves escape to freedom. When the Civil War started, Truth urged young men to join the Union cause and organized supplies for black troops. After the war, she was honored with an invitation to the White House and became involved with the Freedmen’s Bureau, helping freed slaves find jobs and build new lives. While in Washington, DC, she lobbied against segregation, and in the mid 1860s, when a streetcar conductor tried to violently block her from riding, she ensured his arrest and won her subsequent case. In the late 1860s, she collected thousands of signatures on a petition to provide former slaves with land, though Congress never took action. Nearly blind and deaf towards the end of her life, Truth spent her final years in Michigan.

Women have been making history since the beginning of time. Learn more by visiting: www.womenshistory.org.

 

I Have A Dream…

 

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free; one hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination; one hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity; one hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.

So we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was the promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note in so far as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy; now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice; now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood; now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content, will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the worn threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy, which has engulfed the Negro community, must not lead us to a distrust of all white people. For many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of Civil Rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality; we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities; we cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one; we can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”; we cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi cannot vote, and the Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No! no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations.  Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi. Go back to Alabama. Go back to South Carolina. Go back to Georgia. Go back to Louisiana. Go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.  Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I HAVE A DREAM TODAY!

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama — with its vicious racists, with its Governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification — one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I HAVE A DREAM TODAY!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be plain and the crooked places will be made straight, “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.  With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brother-hood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.  And this will be the day. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire; let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York; let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania; let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado; let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia; let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee; let freedom ring from every hill and mole hill of Mississippi. “From every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

 

Source: Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have A Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World, ed. James Melvin Washington (San Francisco: Harper, 1986), 102-106.

 

Common Sense: Diverse Newsrooms Could Lead To Less Apologies

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Jeremy Kappell, the long-time Meteorologist at WHEC-TV in Rochester, NY lost his job after a slip of the tongue. Dropping the word “coon” albeit by accident, while uttering the sacred name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t go over well with the public, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and eventually his bosses after some time lapsed and the public outcry didn’t quiet down as they hoped it would. I get it. People say things they don’t mean to say all the time. We take comfort with this phenomenon and Freudian slips when someone is usually drunk, angry or otherwise lucid and feeling unconstrained. In the age of Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the U.S., these types of happenings are not just scrutinized; they’re scrutinized with suspicion of bold racism.

The lack of diversity in newsrooms, especially in small town America like the home of NBC affiliate WHEC, highlights the importance of hiring people of color. And WHEC actually reflects that compared to other local stations like WROC, WUHF and WHAM. Just take a look at their rosters; most of their employees are White. This, in a city where a 2017 snapshot by Suburban Stat reflects a diverse community; 43 percent White, 41 percent Black, 16 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian. If diversity wasn’t seen by some as what conservative talking bobble-head Tucker Carlson calls an attempt to make America “dirtier,” newsroom staffers would be more familiar working with non-white American journalists. Yes, we do exist. And, please spare me the, “but what about Al Roker, Deborah Roberts, Lester Holt and Tamron Hall” rebuttal on the lack of diversity in media. Unless there’s a quota on minority hires, it behooves news directors everywhere to consider hiring more POC deserving of a chance to build successful journalism careers.

I grew up watching my local anchors and learning from them. English, my 4th language, was primarily taken up from watching Linda Lorelle, Marlene McClinton, Dave Ward, Don Nelson, Jerome Gray, and even Jacque Reid as a teen in Houston, TX. Their work helped shape my own dreams of becoming a television news anchor. And, I would make a great TV news anchor in the small town I moved to in 2008 for the chance to build this dream…if only my skin color wasn’t my Achilles’ heel. You see, to even be granted an interview during my early attempts to work for the only local station at the time, WKTV, required me to go to the local NAACP chapter for support. Yes, you read that correctly. It took the head of the NAACP to force the news director at the time to begrudgingly consider my application. Every other attempt was simply dismissed. He didn’t offer me the job and during the interview demanded I tell my current radio employer that I’m looking to move on. The struggles I’ve had to endure in my skin, in this business, in this small town are real.

The media landscape has been changing for years thanks to advancements in technology and the birth of digital media. Broadcast companies have had to adjust accordingly. And that’s by cutting people, the most vulnerable ones; minorities and older journalists. Media companies want more for less. And they prefer it from a certain demographic; young, white and preferably a petite blond woman. Experience, diversity and the significance of journalism in our society are dying ideals. And the lack of diversity in media has other consequences in addition to the obvious ones. The media apology circuit is not new. It’s a communication strategy; apologize and hope it goes away; don’t apologize and hope your audience moves on to the next shiny thing; terminate, educate or circle the wagons. Big media companies are on a path that solidifies their power and devalues people. It’s a page ripped from Trump’s own playbook, and recent FCC changes reflect this inhumane shift.

Many violations have been made on and off the air similar to the mistake made by Kappell. And it won’t be the last blunder they’ll apologize for either…as long as we keep accepting it. Guess what that comes with? More of the same. Diversity in media is the key to resolving these long-standing cultural issues that divide us, but as long as those holding the key refuse to use it to open the door for minority journalists, they’ll just keep offering apologies. Sorry. Not Sorry.

 

Keeping Up With A Dying Tradition

Adiante Fransoon is a Saamaka tribesman from Suriname. He’s the last remaining woodcarver who’s carving the way his ancestors—escaped African slaves—did hundreds of years ago in the dense tropical forest of the South American country. Adiante Fransoon is practicing authenticity in an ever increasing inauthentic world.

You need to add a widget, row, or prebuilt layout before you’ll see anything here. 🙂

Baltimore Speaks In Murals

Baltimore is rich in culture and murals. Art lives in the city and despite the high crime and poverty rate, the city is truly a hidden cultural gem. The city inhabits the spirits of icons like Billy Holiday, Eubie Blake and Ida B. Wells as it evolves into the American melting pot of Arts and Humanities. For more on the murals of Baltimore click, HERE

Deadly High-Five: MBS & Putin Speak Loudly With Gestures At G20 Summit

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Let’s call it what it is; the high five between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, (MBS) evoke visions of Doctor Evil and Number 2 celebrating a win for their team. And if it didn’t send chills down your spine, you haven’t been keeping up with world affairs. Anyone who has can fill in the blanks to properly caption the symbolism behind it. Keep in mind, Putin is no stranger to brazen killings of journalists in his own country.

Another avenue to capture and understand the moment and how it’s portrayed is through the lens of the media. And, where folks get the vast majority of their information from can undoubtedly skew their perceptions, which is by design because your favorite media watering hole aims to influence you.

Comparing CNN, MSNBC, NYDN, Fox News, NYPost, WSJ and even Al Jazeera’s coverage of the dramatic greeting between the two men, it’s easy to make the contrasts and comparisons. CNN, MSNBC, NYDN and the NYPost took a more bombastic approach to describe the high-five that sent chills to spines across the globe. The wording used, “astounding, bazaar, deadly serious and Murder? What murder?” or referring to the two men as “blood brothers” is a clear position the above mentioned outlets have taken. This stance, which pays in dividends, serves their more moderate leaning audience. Comparing CNN, MSNBC, NYDN and NYPost—more liberal leaning media companies—coverage to the WSJ’s coverage of the high-five at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires there’s a clear distinction; CNN, MSNBC, NYDN and NYPost made their views of the dramatic handshake very clear by painting it in a negative light, while the WSJ took a more conservative brush to it for its audience—a more conservative leaning and economy focused audience—by describing the greeting as exchanging “pleasantries” and quickly moving on to other subject matters central to the G20 Summit.

Looking at Al Jazeera and considering the strained relationship between the two countries, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, one could easily surmise the Qatar media company would take a hostile position in describing and analyzing the irregular exchange between MBS and Putin, but it didn’t. Al Jazeera took a neutral position on the G20 Summit, including the high-five. The media company simply gave updates on the happenings at the Summit. From the issues being discussed to the meetings being held with all the different world leaders, Al Jazeera didn’t even describe the exchange with bombastic wordings like CNN, MSNBC, NYDN or NYPost and the like did. It provided a ticker with periodic updates of the Summit.

Fox News also took a different position. The conservative leaning media company and staunch supporter and defender of U.S. President Donald J. Trump didn’t lead with the high-five angle, nor did it mention it. Instead, Fox News chose to highlight Trump and his leadership at the Summit favorably instead. Fox News came out with this headline, “Trump Presses Putin on Syria, US Election Meddling in First Meeting.” Fox led with this soft on Trump approach storyline, while most other major news outlets spoke about the strange greeting following the barbaric killing of journalist Jamal Kashoggi. There is no mention or video of the handshake between MBS and Putin on the Fox News website. This is clearly by design to cater to its audience, most of whom are conservative leaning and even cult-like Trump supporters.

Media companies cater to their specific audience by way of storytelling. If not, they lose them and all the money the story arc generates. This pattern of shaping information to pacify audience members is not new in the art of storytelling or news reporting. Media outlets are simply getting better at delivering news that fits a certain agenda rather than news that serves to empower people.  This news media strategy, whether it be liberal or conservative leaning, is frightening, especially in the era of Trump, heightened corporate greed and wrongdoings, including brazen murders of top officials and journalists tasked with uncovering truth and holding the powerful accountable.

 

Marking The 50th Anniversary Of Shirley Chisholm’s Historic Election To Congress

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was a force to be reckoned with. Fifty years later, the country is remembering her historic election as the first African American woman to serve in Congress. This, in a time when the country is seeing a historic rise in women being elected to political office.

During a 1983 speech Chisholm said, “I think it’s important that as we look around ourselves in the room today, there are so many complex complicated problems. And the time has come that somehow we must be able to utilize our creative energies on a positive manner and work together for the remediation of the human condition. It matters not whether you are white or black, whether you are male or female but that if you have special talents and aptitudes and abilities that these collective talents and abilities should be utilized by all of us in order to try and help make this world a better place in which to live.” Thanks to the brilliant, feisty, bold, unapologetic “unbought and unbossed” Chisholm, we’ve come a long way in the fight for a more just and equal world, but the fight is far from over.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s remarks on Shirley Chisholm: 

Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14) the organizer of the, “Unbought and Unbossed: A Forum Honoring the Life and Legacy of Shirley Chisholm,”  said, “Fifty years after Representative Chisholm became the first black woman in Congress, she continues to inspire women to push the boundaries.” She’s right. Sheroes have been shaping the world since the beginning of time and thanks to these efforts they’re getting the credit and recognition they deserve.

Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence remarks on Shirley Chisholm: 

The event was co-hosted by the Democratic Women’s Working Group, Congresswomen Lois Frankel (FL-21), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Yvette D. Clarke (NY-9). The women gathered at the event spoke about Chisholm’s legacy and influence on policy priorities in Congress and pledged to continue her fight for civil rights, gender equality, lifting families out of poverty, and improving our democracy.

Rep. Steny Hoyer remarks on Shirley Chisholm: 

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” ― Shirley Chisholm