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Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal/Prison Radio

‘Message to the Grassroots Media Convention’ Syracuse Black Voices

rec. 3-26-06

1) 5:08 Speech Mp3

MESSAGE TO THE GRASSROOTS MEDIA CONVENTION
==============================================
[Speech Writ. 3/26/06] Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Submitted by request of *The Black Voice* (Syracuse Univ.)]

Brothas, Sistas, Journalists-to-be;

Before we discuss the nation's, and especially Urban America's, media, we must define our terms, so that it's understood what is being said.

When I use the term 'media', I'm speaking about urban radio, but also other mediums of communications; TV, the newspapers, magazines, CDs, and the like.

When we look at the portrayal of Black America through these media, it's impossible to see anything positive, except probably that Black Americans seem to be an awfully happy bunch.

We are dancing, flossin', shakin' our heinies, and glorifying pimpin'.  We also seem to be quite wealthy, given all of the shiny jewelry we wear.

Remember -- I speak not of the truth, but of the imagery projected in US media.

And we must know that there are millions of people, perhaps even billions, who consume those media projections, and because they know little else, believe them to be true.

That is the power of media.

It is impossible to look at how the media works in the US and not conclude that it is a tool of white supremacy, and a weapon in the long war against Black life.

When we understand that, we have to ask, how did our people survive such psychic onslaughts over our long history here?  The short answer is that many of us did not.  But the other side of the coin shows us that many Blacks consumed their own media, in the form of Black newspapers, Black radio, Black magazines and Black books.  For entertainment, we appeared so rarely on the TV, that for several decades Black movie companies produced 'race movies', which were shown all across Black America, showing us as competent, wholesome, and feeling human beings.  The Black filmmaker, Oscar Micheaux put together some remarkable work, and surely these images saved many a Black soul huddled in the dark on some segregated balcony in a movie house in the South.

That was then; this is now.

In the years since the apparent victories of the US Civil Rights Movement, we have seen the loss of Black institutions of all kinds, not just media, under the aegis of integration.

Black movies, while well beyond the technical skills and costs of Micheaux, are largely comedy ventures, or poorly written 'gangsta' flicks.

Black radio stations have been purchased by larger corporations, and many Black newspapers have ceased publishing.

By percentile, more Blacks consume TV, and movies, than any other demographic in the US.

Daily TV is a toxic sludge of stereotype, silliness, and a race to the lowest common denominator.

There is a lower percentage of Black journalists working on dailies than 10 years ago.

In the 1960s, Canadian communication researcher, Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase, "the media is the message."  His work got people thinking about the power of media to shape ideas, and ways of seeing the world.  If 'the media is the message', and white, corporate media has bought out (or overwhelmed) most Black mediums of information, what is the message that they are reflecting to the world?

So, if that's the problem, what's the solution, you ask?

As the saying goes, once you know the pitfall is there, hopefully you won't fall into it.

Don't think that your mere presence (as a Black journalist) in a predominantly white institution will change them.

If possible (and given the fluidity of internet-related businesses) build  your own independent business, and if you sell it, sell it to someone who shares your vision.

When  you get into the business, whether in radio or newspaper, don't sell out.  Remember -- he who owns the business determines the output.

Only a corporate-owned media could have suckered millions of Americans into believing that Osama bin Laden and Saddam's Iraq were homies.

The media that sold the lies that lead to war, chaos and death, will hardly be changed by the addition of a few Blacks on their staffs.

Think of it this way; decades ago, the media was always influenced by corporate and government interests.  Today, the media is owned by larger corporate interests, and that is the interest they serve.

You can either serve these interests by getting a job at some soulless radio station, or some dead-end newspaper, or you can start your own.

In short, *become* the media.

Give your people an intelligent, viable alternative to the garbage being spoon-fed to the masses.

Tell them the truth.  Raise hell.  In the tradition of the ancestors, 'Speak truth to power.'

Make a difference, by being different.

I wish you every success.

Ona Move!

Mumia Abu-Jamal

   

[Check out Mumia's latest: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.
#1-800-533-8478.] 

"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is
just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about
justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal

MUMIA'S COLUMNS NEED TO BE PUBLISHED AS BROADLY
AS POSSIBLE TO INSPIRE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT AND
HELP CALL ATTENTION TO HIS CASE.

The campaign to kill Mumia is in full swing and we need you to
**please** contact as many publications and information outlets as
you possibly can to run Mumia's commentaries (on-line and
**especially off-line**)!! The only requirements are that you run
them *unedited*, with every word including copyright information
intact, and send a copy of the publication to Mumia and/or ICFFMAJ.
THANK YOU!!!

Keep updated by reading ACTION ALERTS!!
at http://www.mumia.org, http://www.onamove.com/ and their links.
========================================

To download Mp3's of Mumia's commentaries visit
http://www.prisonradio.org or http://www.fsrn.org
==============================================>

The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

PLEASE CONTACT:
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - icffmaj@aol.com
AND OFFER YOUR SERVICES!

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI-Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

WE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!

Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa

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For additional information and to order Mumia's new book We Want Freedom,

visit: southendpress.org

Check out Mumia's NEW book:
"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life of African and African-American People" at www.africanworld.com


The Power of Truth is Final — Free Mumia!

PLEASE CONTACT:
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - AND OFFER YOUR SERVICES!

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI-Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

WE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!

Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa