Wanted: White Media Makeover

Only Amateur Black American Historians Need Apply

The ghosts of confederate’s past still demanding white unity
Are white drinking the Kool aid without knowing it — The ghosts of confederate’s past still demanding white unity Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

“Even in the US, where everybody hates each other.” Only a white man on CNN could so easily say this line. And he did, repeating the “torn” or “polarized” America, but in a way that slightly jarred me. Clearly, a centrist white media analyst, who doesn’t think that “everyone” means that whites hate “everyone”, where that other everyone is “black Americans.” When using mainstream media language built up through the past, is the unified past that language is always referencing a white American past?

The language of America media doesn’t take into account Black American history — those who happened to be a part of it.

I feel like I’m still seeing the aftermath of the Buffalo massacre, but he moved on. Any forethought of the Buffalo massacre just days earlier might have made him think about the salient outcome of such hate. In a history lined with massacres by mobs of vicious angry whites against black Americans, and a brutal, punishment-free 75 years of white extrajudicial lynchings of black Americans, how could a white centrist author so fluently say such a thing with no thought about the emotions of the black Americans watching and their point of view?

This man is Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group. I doubt he is practicing white supremacy as whites see white supremacy: militant skin heads, angry young-ish and some middle-aged white poor men marching like trained militia and scream chanting in unison something like “America for whites”, “Jews will not replace us.” Or fanatics meeting in internet chat rooms at 2 am to recommend anti-Jewish, anti-black literature and articles, referencing “Mein Kampf”, and seeking out other extremist ideologies into the night. No, he does not put himself into that category.

And hopefully he is not. But it does make me see why I keep hearing blacks talk about “white supremacy” and why there is such a disconnect in the dialogue of the meaning of this term. I must admit that despite my being raised by progressive liberal professors; despite my mother’s and brother’s romantic affairs with blacks (both after divorces; actually my brother is looking to get married); despite my studies formally and informally in black American literature and language; despite my continued research and writings on the need for reparations and creation of full democracy for all starting before the George Floyd murder but amping up after; I must admit I was still feeling a bit of disconnect between this phrase and the reality of daily existence, and am considering if this could be it, this media language that is cast or built with a “white view” in mind.

Maybe I did finally have a breakthrough by hearing the language of American media and mainstream discourse. Since I authored this article, link below, I began to see this “hidden” implication in many media stories and clips. Hidden to whites. It is not fully deliberate or intentional I think, but rather a result of the creation of decades — well centuries — of whites being in control in media, government certainly, but school textbook writing and the American narrative, control of universities, the banks, industries, Hollywood, the golf courses — just general ownership of most everything.

This control has led to the inescapable unified language of white media. In the clip I just described on YouTube, which I mostly watch so I can see clips on topics I want to, this CNN clip was one not about the Buffalo massacre, but about the war in the Ukraine and analysis of Russia. (Full disclosure: I lived and taught in Siberia for two years with the Peace Corps on a trans Siberian railroad town, thus I follow this topic.)

It’s like the Bruce Willis movie The Sixth Sense, when the famous line spoken by the child to Bruce was “I see dead people.” Only at the end of the movie does Bruce Willis realize he is the dead people and the child is the only one seeing him and all the other dead people. (In that scenario, I’m the child, not the dead people, but the dead people is metaphoric for white supremacy media language and what it represents, not black Americans.) So, I was listening to a “regular” story. It’s in many stories though, that assumption. It’s reflected in the narrative frequently heard in various forms that “We are losing our democracy,” which I wrote about that trigger this issue.

So, this analyst is not a black American, historian of black or American history, but was talking on a topic he is an expert in, and his analysis was very pertinent to the topic at hand, in all fairness to him. But I can’t un-see it, that language of white unity. The familiar discourse I’ve been tuning into, listening to, that narrative that we will be whole again, that we are divided — that is the longing for white unity. And it is diversity — and multiculturalism, the older term for it — that is attacking that unity, that we are told is “polarizing” us perhaps. The diversity of power sharing, or black visibility, success, demands of justice.

It is the Wall they, on the political far white, want built that divides, that fundamental symbolic division of race that represents “the old days” when white ownerships and control was monolithic, complete. When those inside the Wall were safe in their control. And their white control and ownership of the diverse people, the blacks, living within.

It’s only been a couple decades since we’ve “seen” blacks in cinema, like the starring role of Harry in Look Who’s Coming to Dinner. Here’s a black walking into a white house, an actor in control of himself and the audience, refusing by his role and commanding elegance to be a side actor, a house servant. Since then, we’ve seen blacks as leading men, perhaps not often enough, though more than we’ve seen black women as leading women, and as Senators, now Vice President, Supreme Court Judge. Black super billions, super owners, still seem to be all white. So, a way to go in that category.

It leaves me wondering, is that what black Americans “hear” when the listen to the mainstream media in the news, the articles, the TV, the universities, and school. Do they hear exclusion in the “we” all the time, feel a sense of exclusion at the word democracy, since only recently obtaining the vote in 1965 and yet seeing it still being attempted to take away? Do they hear unity and not feel a part of it, of that “unity”? Is that what the daily actuality, realization, of white supremacy is that “they” hear (American descendants of slaves and not recent African immigrants) but whites don’t?

I’m reflecting on this media language in particular, so please advise me if you know. Professional historians need not answer, as their language might be too practiced and self-conscious. I’m looking for lived in, experienced answers. Let me know:

Am I the only one seeing dead people, who are white confederate soldiers’ ghosts coming for me, demanding my white unity at any cost?

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