On Sundays, I read The New York Times in print. I start with the first news section, but what really caught my eye was two ads with no photos or drawings. Just words. The first ad’s headline said: “Dear white corporate America, I get it. I know you have the best intentions.”
It was an incredible read, and it was signed by Omar Johnson, the founder of OPUS United. On their website, it explained: “We are a multi-disciplined, high-performing collective of strategists, creatives, executives, athletes, and entertainers who know how to power world-class brands.” (If you go to www.opusunited.com, you can read all of this ad.)
Then, turning the page, there were two pages of ad copy with the headline: “Black America Speaks. America Should Listen. What We Need to do to Never Come back Here Again.” This ad was signed by Byron Allen, the founder, chairman and CEO of the Allen Media Group / Entertainment Studios.
Both of these are powerful statements, with history and ideas for more equality – and reality. The Allen Media Group website did not include the ad copy, but it is reprinted here in the New Jersey Urban News:https://www.njurbannews.com/2020/06/byron-allen-black-america-speaks.html
After all, if you have various email accounts, you are not alone in receiving numerous emails from corporate entities about the need to do better and move forward, etc., etc. Somehow this seems a bit self-serving, but the most off-kilter information was from a wonderful book store in Denver. The topic of objectivity went on and on and decided that they would walk down the center aisle and not much definition.
People threw the book at them. And there was an apology and the realization that people understand how things have to change.
Westword posted an update: “Their initial missive stated that while Tattered Cover as an institution was sympathetic to the Black Lives Matter movement, they were choosing to remain effectively neutral, calling the store’s ‘nearly fifty-year policy of not engaging in public debate’ something that was ‘more significant’ than a white-owned business speaking out. They stressed their belief that Tattered Cover’s ‘value to the community’ was ‘to provide a place where access to ideas, and the free exchange of ideas, can happen in an uninhibited way.’ “
All I could think was remembering when the previous owner, Joyce Meskis, refused to reveal what a person had purchased while the Patriot Act was brewing (remember that one?). She pushed back, because the authorities wanted to know what books were being sold. The authorities also asked librarians to let them know what their patrons were reading. This was after 9/11, when there was fear. But, really, what about privacy?
Quickly, the relatively new owners of the book store basically said they understood they had to clarify that earlier press release. The links below reference the bookstore’s two releases, and the “time” of the Patriot Act:
Finally, a piece by Corey Hutchins in The Colorado Independent included a roundup asking news outlets how they deal with covering the Black Lives Matter movement. For years, the whole idea was to be balanced: Side A and Quote A, then Side B and Quote B, and continue. But in this case, what is happening in the streets doesn’t fit that mold very well.
(The image above was on that column (and here), though the top few inches had to be trimmed.)
The first paragraph in Hutchins’ column of a few days ago notes this: “A slow burn inside newsrooms about the efficacy of objectivity, ‘both-sides-ism,’ and a view-from-nowhere approach to reporting burst into a public flashpoint this week. Much of it has to do with how journalists cover race as nationwide protests rage over police violence against Black Americans. Much of this is also generational.”
Hutchins’ wrote that some of the responses said: “Silence is not an option.” The concept of “both-sides-ism” is fading into the background during a time when there is incredible repression and murder and the need to protect black lives.