Friday, December 30, 2005

‘”Looters” and “Finders”’

By: Angela Lee Price,
WLOU Radio - 1350 AM, Louisville, KY

There is considerable tension today between the races due primarily to lack of serious dialogue and understanding about race. This is very evident as African Americans express outrage about coverage of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe in mainstream media as the e-mail below demonstrates. Many African Americans, including myself, are very upset about the following:

1. African Americans being referred to as “looters” while white Americans are referred to as “finders.”
2. The citizens of New Orleans being referred to as “refugees.”
3. The continual replaying of old footage of “looting” African Americans as though they were the only ones with sense enough to find food and survival necessities.
4. President Bush’s hostile and inflammatory “shoot-to-kill” rhetoric as victims of the tragedy die in the streets from lack of attention.
5. The military’s pre-General Honore, guns-pointed entrance into New Orleans as though all victims were criminals.
6. The Red Cross’ answer to their late arrival – “It was unsafe to enter the city.”
7. The defensive reply of at least one cable television news host to Congressional Black Caucus and NAACP concerns that race was a factor in the government’s slow response to evacuate the citizens of New Orleans – something to the effect that “New Orleans Major Nagin is African American, and I don’t hear you accusing him of incompetence.”
8. Rita Cosby referring to the five African Americans killed yesterday in the gun battle with the military as “thugs” without presenting proof of their background with arrest records.
9. The continual insistence that poverty and class are issues being uncovered with this disaster and that race has nothing to do with it.
Many African Americans believe that had the residents of New Orleans been 70% white and poor they would not be depicted on television and in newspapers this way nor addressed and handled in this manner by President Bush and government agencies.

Mainstream media is oftentimes too quick to emphasize stereotypical images of African Americans as savages, beasts, prostitutes, and happy-go-lucky entertainer types, while de-emphasizing efforts to educate and uplift the race. Case in point. On the front page of the August 28th edition of the Courier Journal Newspaper in the article “City Pays Price for Gun Violence,” statistics were presented relating to the numbers of gunshot-wounded victims handled at Louisville’s University Hospital between 2003-2004. The article stated that 88% of the gunshot suicides were white males, however, I have yet to see detailed articles, such as the August 28th article, on white male suicide. I have seen more than enough articles about the horrible violence in west Louisville.

My suggestion is that you consider an in-depth story on the issue of race, an issue that is being brought to the national forefront as a result of the Katrina catastrophe. I believe that at the root of the race issue is lack of understanding about African civilization, African American culture, and significant African American contributions for some 400 years to this nation.

(Be sure to read and listen to an excerpt of the sermon posted on December 28, 2005 entitled "Finders Keepers.")

Article published in The American Baptist Newspaper, Editorial section, pages 2 & 12, September 12, 2005.

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