Race discussions call for unsanitized news stories

And Blacks should not be the only ones telling them

MPR taped a broadcast from temporary offices of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. (l-r) Tom Weber, Michael McDowell, Mica Grimm and Anthony Newby
MPR taped a broadcast from temporary offices of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. (l-r) Tom Weber, Michael McDowell, Mica Grimm and Anthony Newby


On August 6, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) taped a broadcast on West Broadway in North Minneapolis at Neighborhoods Organizing for Change’s (NOC) temporary offices to speak on the approaching one-year anniversary of the Michael Brown and other police-related killings that led to the Black Lives Matter national movement. NOC Executive Director Anthony Newby told the MSR that those deaths are “our generation’s Emmitt Till.”

Mica Grimm and Michael McDowell, both of Black Lives Matter, as well as Newby talked about the Brown death and other race issues with MPR’s Tom Weber.

“Black folk begin to lose their humanity at age 10,” said McDowell on police shootings that involve Blacks, which he blames on officer “overreaction. We are not seeing this overreaction when it comes to White people,” he noted.

“You lose that humanity when you are committing a crime,” added Grimm. “We don’t always know the full story.”

Grimm and McDowell both joined Black Lives Matter Minneapolis from the beginning. They are among 11 people charged by the Bloomington City Attorney with trespassing and other offenses after a protest demonstration at Mall of America (MOA). Last week most of those charges were dropped.

“The number-one demand is stop killing us,” stated Grimm. “If all lives matter, then Black lives should matter.” She added that it shouldn’t be up to Blacks and other people of color to address race issues.

McDowell told the MSR that he was still upset over the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida a year earlier when Brown was killed last summer. “It was a shock when it happened,” he recalled.

Kayla Reed
Kayla Reed

America seems always to have had a problem with Black people, said Ferguson, Missouri community organizer Kayla Reed. She was among several persons invited to speak to Black journalists at last week’s National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) annual convention in Minneapolis.

“We know we have to do something about race,” added actor Louis Gossett, Jr. during the August 6 “Race in America” newsmaker plenary that focused on “how Black people exist in America with the influences of racism.”

“Racism is “embedded public policy…disguised as good government,” said Malcolm Graham, a former South Carolina state senator and brother of Charleston, S.C. shooting victim Cynthia Hurd. U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) told Black journalists how important it is that they tell the full story of what is really happening in their respective communities, especially on issues of race.

Wesley Lowery
Wesley Lowery

Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post said he often wrestles with race when he’s covering such incidents as Ferguson “trying to be unemotional.” During a later breakout session on mass media coverage of Blacks, moderator Tene Croom said she found the coverage “very slanted.”

“The news went out of its way to point [out] that the police was in the right,” Croom noted. She asked the panel why it seems that the mainstream media — whenever post-shooting protests and demonstrations occur — either categorize it as a “riot” or “unrest.”

“I’m a firm believer that the news is sanitized,” admitted Reginald Thomas, Jr. of the NAACP Crisis Magazine.

“America has a PR problem — that’s racism,” said Philadelphia Inquirer’s Monica Peters.

“We should not rely on people of color to tell the story,” stated Wanda Lloyd of Savannah State University. “It’s not just our job [as Black journalists], but everyone’s job.”

“I love having this conversation,” noted Weber after the MPR remote broadcasts. Whether taped for later or live, in community venues such as NOC, “I’d like to see it done more often.”

“MPR reached out to us,” said Newby.


Black Lives Matter update

Although trespassing charges were dropped last week against 11 “alleged organizers” of the Mall of America demonstration last year, there still are some outstanding charges remaining, said St. Thomas Law Professor Nekima Levy-Pounds, who was charged with “eight misdemeanor charges, and now three…have since been dismissed,” said a BLM press release.

Levy-Pounds told the MSR that “aiding and abetting” charges are still active and they expect to go to court later this year. She called this “a waste of taxpayers’ dollars and time,” saying it also seems “hypocritical” to charge Black Lives Matter supporters but not recent protesters about a lion’s death during an African hunt.


Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.