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By: Roy Douglas Malonson, Publisher of African-American News & Issues & Author of column series We MUST Understand

Other cultures understand the importance of disseminating information to members from their communities, in a language that they can understand. On any given day, if a person was to visit various newsstands across the city, a wide mix of newspapers representing the diversity of races that exist within the United States would be found. Chinese, Japanese, Asians, Hispanics and all other cultures have their own paper to help the understanding of their people. Considering the fact that African-Americans worked to build this nation with sweat, blood, tears and in many instances their lives; our history within the nation should be one of the most cherished.

Last year, I featured an editorial entitled, “As Long as it’s ‘His-story’, there will always be a Problem!” Because for too long the scales of history has been unbalanced and crucial African-American facts and details have been white-washed out of the American version of history. This is one of the reasons that I always refer to the term, “history” as “his-story”; because history is another person’s view about how they perceived things at the time. In many cases, it depends on whose story you read whether or not it is an adequate reflection of the events or struggles that occurred. People have a tendency to minimize challenges, unless they are directly related to them. Therefore, we have a duty to tell our own story, as opposed to letting someone else fill the seat. No one will ever tell and present our story like us. This is one of the main reasons that the Black press was instituted.

Nowadays, news is distributed so quickly, there is little room for folks to decipher what’s really being presented. So it is vital that we have a source that we can depend on to tell us the truth about the issues that affect us the most. Undoubtedly, not everyone agrees with this thought because a lot of people think that everything is ok. Some of our new mis-educated integrated folk feel that it is racist to have a publication that exclusively caters to one race. That is until they are convicted of being Black in America.

We MUST Understand that there is more to the Black press than highlighting beautiful shades of Brown, trendy attires and displaying the “Who’s, Who” in the community. The Black press serves not only as the distribution source of information for African-Americans, but it provides a voice for our people. Despite many common misconceptions, even when Blacks refuse to read the Black press, those who do not look like us do. Many of our counterparts are just as curious about viewing our perceptions of our story, as they are their own.

We have to learn to safeguard our Black print media, because it is one of the last things that we can truly call ours. As it is, Blacks only own the print media. By that I mean that there are not many Black-owned television networks. Oprah Winfrey established OWN, but asides from that there are not too many other outlets that we can honestly claim ownership. Hence we have to make use of the resources that we have at our disposal.

Nevertheless, it is imperative that Black folks have knowledge of the great assets and amazing strength that our ancestors possessed. Our children should know that they come from a race of people who were considered lower than other human beings; but even in the midst of what society labeled them as; they were still able to persevere and make great contributions to a nation that never recognized them as people to begin with.

Though African-Americans have overcome slavery and other struggles since entrance into this nation, in the year 2018 other levels of disenfranchisement for Blacks still exist. Black folks being overwhelming victims of: police brutality, low unemployment rates, mass incarceration, voter right suppression, housing discrimination and other social and economic challenges alone; should be enough to stress the importance and value of the Black press.

Simply put, the constant disrespect of the White news media confirms why we need a Black newspaper. We exist to tell our story and preserve our history. We will have a reason to exist until 100-percent of racism, biases, equal opportunity, police brutality, injustices in criminal justice, inequality and other problems have been solved and they are no longer issues in our society. Though we see many Black faces reporting in mainstream media today versus 50-years ago; the truth is that those personalities must exist to demonstrate diversity within the workplace. Mainstream media is a separate entity and there is no place for Blacks to actively speak and be heard on the issues that affect us most.

Concluding Malcolm X once stated that, “History is a people’s memory, and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals.” I couldn’t agree with him more because a person’s history helps to establish their future. But when you have no knowledge of where you come from, you certainly don’t know where you are going. And that alone is one of the best selling points for the value of the Black press – it gives us definition.

 

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