ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
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The Local Community Radio Act and the low-power FM station licenses it would provide,
each with a three to five mile broadcast footprint, are real legislative
and regulatory answers to the problem of negative and degrading imagery in the media.
Banning Saggy Pants is the Wrong Conversation
Low Power Community Radio is the Right Conversation
By Bruce Dixon
In case you missed it, local lawmakers around the country have come up with a brand new answer to corporate youth culture and its glorification of prison, booty-shakin’ drug slinging, and nihilism. It’s also a proven way to get their names in the news for taking a stand. Their new approach to these problems has found its way to the legislative dockets of dozens of communities. Their solution? A legal ban on sagging pants that expose underwear, with fines and/or jail time for those caught wearing their pants too low. The bans are on the legislative dockets of Atlanta and Dallas and have already passed in several Georgia and Louisiana cities. “It’s a profoundly backward idea,” according to Dr. Jared Ball, a professor of journalism at the University of Maryland, and a candidate for the presidential nomination of the Green Party. “It’s really legislative malpractice, that targets and criminalizes young black males who consume a cultural message conveyed to them by BET, by MTV, by black commercial radio and other corporate for-profit media. Local lawmakers who want to address the nihilism, the self-hatred and the disrespect spread by corporate media should instead zero in on the corporate media that make billions of dollars every year spreading those messages, instead of aiming the police, fines and jail at those who consume the messages.”
Atlanta city councilman C. T. Martin, local sponsor of that city’s sagging pants law, claims that his intention is not to target black youth, or to jail offenders, but rather to start public conversation, to as he put it in a public meeting on September 5, “…continue the work [TV actor Bill] Cosby started.”
“Then it’s the wrong conversation to start and the wrong work to continue,” says Dr. Ball. “The public conversation we need from lawmakers is not more of this tired noise about ‘what’s wrong with these young folks?’ The correct conversation starts when we ask how come these destructive but highly profitable messages of self-hatred are practically the only ones our media regime allows to reach the ears of young people over the public airwaves — the public airwaves which are owned by the people and regulated by their lawmakers. Legislators should be targeting the profitable pipeline, not the consumers at the end of it.”
Dr. Ball is on to something here. Media mediate public consciousness. The song “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp” didn’t win the Hip-Hop Awardit won the Academy Award in 2005. Instead of regulating the clothes young black people wear, lawmakers should be regulating the media, ensuring that more positive and constructive messages are allowed the chance to compete for the ears of our young people.
There’s bipartisan legislation in Congress right now that would do exactly that.
The Local Community Radio Act of 2007 (HR 2802/S. 1675) sponsored by Reps. Mike Doyle and Lee Terry and Sens. John McCain and Maria Cantwell will open up licensing for hundreds, perhaps thousands of not for profit, locally owned FM low-power radio stations in rural, urban and suburban locations across the United States. This legislation will enable thousands of community groups across the country to start their own FM radio stations. If the recent history of not for profit community radio is any guide, those stations, will be only too eager to provide the programming Americans want but cannot get from the owners of commercial radio and TV. They’ll cover local news, which is altogether absent from broadcast commercial radio. And they will broadcast the work of local and other artists who cannot get airplay on for-profit commercial radio either because their music isn’t commercial or “gangsta” enough or because they can’t afford the payola (bribes) required at commercial radio stations. The Local Community Radio Act and the low-power FM station licenses it would provide, each with a three to five mile broadcast footprint, are real legislative and regulatory answers to the problem of negative and degrading imagery in the media. Local community radio is a real and substantive answer to payola too.
The black stake in low-power FM radio is particularly stark. In the real world there are thousands of hip hop artists with intelligent, positive messages who can’t reach young audiences because the lawmakers and regulators haven’t done their jobs and constructed a media regime which allows the public to make choices in its own interest. As Davey D pointed out in Black Agenda Report earlier this year
while 58 percent of blacks between ages 15 and 25 listen to hip-hop daily, most are dissatisfied with it. They find the subject matter is too violent, and women too often portrayed in offensive ways… Blacks are used largely to validate musical themes being marketed to the white mainstream. In other words, while 90 percent of commercial rap artists on TV and radio are black, the target audience lies outside the black community… commercial hip-hop has become the ultimate minstrel show, and rap artists are pushed by the industry to remain perpetual adolescents
We should not expect to hear much about this legislation or about the revolutionary prospect of locally owned low-power FM radio on the corporate TV or radio news, or in the newspapers. The private owners of newspapers, of radio and TV station licenses decided long ago that the less thought public gave to questions of media ownership and regulation, the better off we would all be When the FCC considered lifting the few remaining limitations on how many radio stations a giant corporation could own in a single market or nationwide, you scarcely find a newspaper story on it. TV and radio coverage were entirely absent. Still, more than a million people offered comments opposing further consolidation of radio station ownership. The 2006 federal legislative push by phone and cable companies to kill network neutrality on the internet and remove from local jurisdictions the power to regulate their own broadband futures has received next to no coverage in the corporate press either, but FreePress and others generated a million petition signatures against it anyway. Sadly, the campaign to do the same thing state by state has been covered even less.
So Atlanta’s Mr. Martin and the other lawmakers who insist legal sanctions on youthful clothing choices are the answer may be smarter than they sound. While their approach is guaranteed not to solve any problems, and their “conversations” are all about regulating or blaming the consumers of bad messages instead of regulating the messages and those who profit from delivering them, they seem to understand one thing very well. They know what will get picked up in the corporate evening news and talk shows. They know what the topics of the corporate-funded “brain trust” panels at the Congressional Black Caucus’s Legislative Conference later this month will be. They understand that big media would rather limit the conversation to “what’s wrong with those kids?” and steer public attention away from how we can achieve a fair and equitable media system that meets the public needs. They seem to understand that it’s easier to flow with the owners of media than with their nominal constituents. “If these lawmakers had any sense of responsibility” according to Dr. Ball, “they wouldn’t be coming up with more excuses to target, to further criminalize and profile black youth based on the way they look. They would be promoting the Local Community Radio Act. They would be boosting and popularizing constructive non-profit media, which provide voices and choices opposing the destructive ones put out there by privately owned media like Radio One, Clear Channel, MTV and BET. They’d be chasing real solutions instead of the same old stuff.” Again, we think Dr. Ball has it right. If you’re disgusted with the choices some of our young people seem to be making, it makes sense to aim our ire at the media regime and the message it conveys, instead of concentrating exclusively on the consumers of that message. It’s time to call your representative in Congress. Demand that they sign on to and support the Local Community Radio Act, HB 2802 in the House of Representatives, and SB 1675 in the Senate.
What members of the CBC are actually for more voices and choices on the radio, and which ones are fine with the way it is now? How many of them will be at the FCC hearing in Chicago on September 20? These are some of the questions those of us who will be attending the Congressional Black Caucus’s Legislative Weekend this month will put it to some of our African American members of Congress in person.
Bruce Dixon is the Managing Editor at Black Agenda Report, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Black Agenda Report
posted 13 September 2007
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By Douglas A. Blackmon,
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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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By Charles C. Mann
Im a big fan of Charles Manns previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Its exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that its anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, Im proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, globalized entity.
Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.
We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.
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By Pauline Maier
A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her books footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a conventions decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maiers accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly).
Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state conventions verdict affected anothers. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.Booklist
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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28 May 2012