'Slaves' To Media Masters p. 10

By: Mark Fitzgerald ALTERNATELY PLAYING THE roles of disappointed parent and outraged victim of a biased media, the Rev. Louis Farrakhan scolded black journalists as "slaves" of a white-owned press who "feed the people filth and ignorance and garbage."
Kicking off the National Association of Black Journalists' 21st annual convention in Nashville last week, the Nation of Islam leader uncorked a stemwinder that combined blistering insults of African-American journalists with sudden, quiet protestations of filial love.
"Don't you know I love you? I really love you ? and I know you are the key to liberating the minds of the people," Farrakhan told the convention.
NABJ members, however, could be excused if they felt somewhat less than loved.
Mugging, mocking and mimicking the supposed speech patterns of black professionals, Farrakhan repeatedly portrayed black journalists as sellouts to their community who are so fearful of white media owners they have subverted the meaning of a free press.
"You are the National Association of Black Journalists that work for white institutions," Farrakhan said. "White people did not hire you to tell the truth . . . and you don't. You are too afraid of losing the cheap little gig you got going."
Black journalists are not even responsible for their own career successes, Farrakhan suggested.
"You didn't get these jobs 'cause you're so skilled," Farrakhan shouted, comically drawling the last word. "You got them 'cause some Negroes started throwing Molotov cocktails and white people didn't want to go uptown to cover that ? so they raided the black press."
African-American journalists are compliant in the United States' "controlled press," he said.
"My people can never be free as long as thought control and mind manipulation is practiced in the news media ? and you know what I'm talking about . . . . When you hear them beating the hell out of me for being an anti-Semite or bigot, it'd be nice to hear some of you brothers who are applauding me behind the door go out front and say, 'Farrakhan is not the man he's depicted to be. He's a lot better than that,' " he said.
As he himself acknowledged, however, criticism ? especially from the so-called white media ? is the fuel of the Farrakhan phenomenon.
"I must tell you the truth ? I have benefited from the beating I have taken," he said.
And in response to a question, Farrakhan suggested that he himself has lived up to his ideal of a media owner. The Nation of Islam publishes a weekly tabloid, the Final Call.
"I have never bridled anyone, nor has anyone bridled anyone, who tried to write the truth in the Final Call," he said.
A one-time calypso singer who now leads a Muslim sect, yet who liberally quotes Jesus Christ and takes much of his speaking style from black Protestant preachers, Farrakhan urged journalists to go back to church.
"You big media people, where's God in your life?" he said. "You used to pray, but now you're big-time media people. You don't have time for God, and that's why your writing is so stale and insipid."
For all his chiding, Farrakhan frequently delivered his remarks with a wide smile, and in comments after the talk, many NABJ members indicated they did not take his performance very seriously.
There was some anger among the audience, however, about the security measures implemented by Farrakhan's Fruits of Islam, an entourage of extremely serious and extremely polite men and women. When a shipment of metal-detecting wands failed to show up at the convention, the security people asked NABJ members to form separate lines for men and women and began frisking the journalists as they entered. Later, the frisking ? which violated an apparent understanding between the Nation of Islam and NABJ officials ? was dropped and people entered without physical inspections.
"This is still a National Association of Black Journalists convention," Sharon Stevens, the association's vice president/broadcast, said pointedly.
Nation of Islam leader rips black journalists for selling out to 'controlled press'
?("White people did nothire you to tell the truthy...and you don't. You are too afraid of losing the cheap little gig you got going."- The Rev. Louis Farrakhan, in remarks to the National Association of Black Journalists in Memphis last Wednesday.) [Photo & Action]


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here