Black folk on the news
‘I saw the whole thang’
The news media are criticized many times for the heavy and often biased coverage of minorities, particularly young Black men, involved in crimes. This is more the case than with movies and music videos, which most logical Americans can distinguish between as acting versus reality. By contrast, the news is supposed to provide an unbiased, reliable portrayal of its subjects.
Then why isn’t unbiased reporting the case?
Although this kind of reporting has been happening as long as anyone can remember, lately there seems to have been a spate of the “ignorant interviewee.”
It almost seems as if field reporters seek out the most ignorant looking, sounding, speaking person they can find on the streets to get reactions to various crimes or current events. Blacks aren’t alone in this misrepresentation; many times the same is done with Latino Americans, once again seeking out the witness who speaks the most broken English to give their account of what happened.
Are we really expected to believe that in no cases is there an educated minority anywhere to be found who can be interviewed? Maybe educated is asking too much; can we at least find someone with a solid command of the English language?
Honestly, the Black, loud-mouthed “I saw the whole thang” interviewee in most cases is much more of an embarrassment than the suspected Black criminal.
The latest example to get a multitude of attention was the Antoine Dodson “Bed Intruder” sensation. Dodson, of Huntsville, Ala., was interviewed after someone broke into his apartment and attempted to rape his sister Kelly Dodson. The interview, in which the reporter spoke to both the family members, focused more heavily on Antoine, the flamboyant, head-rag-tied brother, rather than the actual victim.
Some local viewers phoned the television station to complain that interviews with people such as Dodson reflected poorly on the community, and the station defended broadcasting the interview by stating that censoring such people is “far worse.”
Jonathan Capehart, editorial page writer for the Washington Post, wrote that Dodson became an instant Internet sensation because “in this age of fake reality TV, he puts the real in reality,” to which he later added that Dodson “is one of the strongest people we’ve seen in a while.”
Therein lies the problem. By broadcasting his interview and praising it for how “real” it was it furthered the impression that this is what people act, talk, and look like in the Black community.
Not only did the interview go viral, getting millions of views, but Youtuber’s turned the interview into an auto-tuned song and music video which sold more than 250,000 copies on iTunes, and spawned an entire product line including T-shirts and even Halloween costumes (complete with the head rag … yessss).
Truthfully, more power to the Dodson family. Their exploitation actually paid off (literally) giving them money to get a new home outside of the projects and made Antoine an overnight celebrity. I guess you can’t be mad at that.
We can’t pretend that the Antoine Dodson types do not exist; the problem comes in when the majority of media coverage only portrays this extremely narrow slice of the spectrum.
In the 2002 science-fiction movie “Minority Report,” suspects are apprehended based on what crimes it is determined they will commit. The award-winning film starred Tom Cruise and was directed by Steven Spielberg. It is probable that author Philip K. Dick, who wrote the dark tale on which the movie was based, had foreknowledge of what was already afoot in various police agencies.
In these modern times, we have seen a drastic change in the structure of the Black family. New generations are becoming increasingly sexually promiscuous and losing connection to traditional relationships and marital ideologies, including the concept of courting. What has changed our perspective on relationships? What has allowed couples to pursue non-monogamous relationships rather than those like their grandparents and parents had and have?