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She Challenged the Colonial Media’s Control of the Minority Image

Colonial not in the sense of the old imperialists–France, England, Portugal, etc–but their successors, Comcast, the Walt Disney Co., Time Warner, Viacom and other multinational corporations that influence the world’s perceptions of groups and individuals. A glance at Forbes indicates that they make billions in profits. Like the old imperialists who set up Kings and other officials to be their proxies, they determine which points of view prevail in minority communities, shape the attitudes of the majorities toward minorities, which usually takes the form of stereotypes, and select a elite from these communities to be their mind doubles. Sometimes these often vicious portraits take the form entertainment like the series of dramas that depict black men as drug addicts and black women as prostitutes. Within the last month, I’ve noticed two television shows and a film in which blacks were depicted in such a manner. One was praised by a New York Times critic, the same paper that continues to report on heroin drug addiction among whites in Vermont. These Colonial entities can dictate which issues affecting minority communities are addressed and the manner by which they are addressed. When the report about the misconduct of the Ferguson police was issued, CNN was able to find two black men to defend the Ferguson police. One accused the Attorney General Holder of carrying on a vendetta against the force. Maybe Mark O’Mara, another CNN regular, wasn’t available. He was George Zimmerman’s Attorney. He promoted false information about Michael Brown and intimidated the white women on the Zimmerman jury by raising the specter of the black rapist. 

Dori Maynard and her father Robert Maynard’s answer to a Jim Crow media that influences the public’s perceptions of blacks, Hispanics, Muslims and others was to flood the Jim Crow Media with a diversity of talent. Robert Maynard as publisher of The Oakland Tribune and Dori as president of the Maynard Institute. Instead of diversifying the ranks of newsrooms and television stations by 2000, which was Robert Maynard’s challenge, the media are being depleted of minority talent. This fact shows the obstinancies they faced. I was among those who delivered a Eulogy at her funeral.–IR

I met Dori Maynard, a member of what I call The Maynard Dynasty, when she was a student at Middlebury College. She invited me there to discuss my fiction. Try as she might, she couldn’t convert me into becoming an objective journalist. So Saturday before last, a few days before she died, my family and I sat in her bedroom and Dori got on me about not being objective about the Giuliani family. I said something about how ironic it was that America’s mayor would criticize the upbringing of the president, when Giuliani’s father was a convicted lone shark enforcer and his daughter a convicted shoplifter. I was real proud of my muckraking abilities at having discovered that Mr. Giuliani’s father shared a prison cell with the Harlem gangster, Bumpy Johnson. Dori said I was hard on the daughter because her offense happened a long time ago. Dori and I never engaged in small talk. She got on my case again when I went to Counterpunch and criticized a movie and noted that Dori Maynard agreed with me. Next time I saw her, she said that she should have known better than not to select her words carefully when having a private conversation with a writer. And even on that grim Saturday she gave an example of what some call her droll wit. I said Dori look at all of the people who are visiting you. She said: yes, when you were dying, everybody loves you. I said Dori; you ain’t dead yet. She said that’s true.

To some the Maynard family history reads like the Book Of Job. But they haven’t behaved like it. Bob Maynard was discussing future projects up until the day of his death. He was always telling me about his fault lines project about the ethnic and racial and gender divisions in America. And when he passed Dori picked up the chalice. Bobs fault lines have become chasms. Instead of meeting Bob’s challenge that the media integrate by 2000, according to Richard Prince, scores of black journalists are being dismissed from their jobs. Even at NPR. The election of a black president has ushered in an era of post race good feeling, according to some. Two major newspersons, Maureen Dowd and Tina Brown, among those who hog up all of the opinion space, and get to talk about race more than any hundred black scholars and intellectuals, have said that the election of a black president and the selection of a black Attorney General means that racism is a dead issue. Both women Tina Brown and Maureen Dowd live in New York City where hundreds of thousands of Hispanic and black men and women were subjected to stop and frisk searches. Right under their noses.

Blacks have lost half their wealth as a result of subprime loans when over sixty percent were eligible for conventional loans. The criminal banks responsible for this theft were allowed to negotiate their penalties.

The search and destroy strategy of the police has reached into the public schools where thousands of black and Hispanic children are subject to arrest. For wearing the wrong school colors or talking back to the teacher. A six-year-old was handcuffed for having a tantrum. The private prison industry encourages their bought and sold politicians to supply them with more bodies, the way that slaves were treated. As merchandise.

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Thousands of black kids are sent to adult prisons where they are treated like prey. While the progressive media are concerned about hidden sites all over the world, they just found one in Chicago where black and Hispanic suspects were taken and tortured. And because the media are occupied by men who’ve never had such encounters, such vile actions are blamed on black culture. For them, Michael Brown and Eric Garner and even 12-year-old Tamir Rice were killed because of black culture. Both police union spokesperson’s and two New York Time’s columnists Nicholas Kristof and Ross Douthat agreed that Michael Brown was partially responsible for his death. Even progressive hero John Stewart said that the circumstances surrounding Brown’s death were “ambiguous” when even two white men were shown raising their hands as they witnessed Brown raising his hands as his murderer killed him. Even Jeffrey Toobin called it cold-blooded murder after watching the actions of the white men. All about black culture? This doesn’t explain why Hispanics get shot or why the most likely victim of a police shooting is a Native Am.Black culture? Councilwoman Margaret Chin, a Democrat, who represents a New York Chinatown neighborhood , said that “the NYPD has unfairly targeted Asians as well as blacks and Latinos.” The model minority!

Alex Maynard, Dori’s brother, wasn’t wearing a hoodie or stealing cigarillos or selling loose cigarettes when he was forced by the police to give a DNA sample because he looked like another black kid. He still bears a scar where he was beaten by members of the notorious NYPD. He was luckier than Adam Kennedy, son of the playwright, Adrienne Kennedy, who was beaten up in his front yard. The police completealidon’t just do kids who live in the projects. They don’t just do young people either. I was racially profiled while relaxing in this cemetery. My partner and I took time off from our errands to walk in this historic Mountain View Cemetery. Somebody in the office here called the cops.

This is what Dori was up against. Chasms not fractures. What is the face of oppression in these post race days?Women at the Oscars wearing hundreds of thousands of dollars in clothes and millions in jewelry, who gave a standing ovation to a call for equal pay for women. The speaker Patricia Arquette didn’t identify those in Congress who’ve been against equal pay. She said that (white) women had fought for the rights of others. If that’s true, why are the roles of black and Hispanic women limited? Two former inmates, black women, testifying before a panel about prison health said that black women are dying in prisons because the authorities ignore their symptoms or even ridicule them. They didn’t get no standing ovation.

So how did Dori answer a media that is so hostile to the interests of blacks that I have recommended that the Newseum in Washington have a hall of shame that would exhibit the front pages of newspapers that encouraged race riots and lynchings. Under her direction the Maynard Institute trained hundreds of young journalists. Word ambassadors, who would insist that the media reflect the society in which it resides.

Dori like her predecessor, Ida B. Wells, suffered family tragedies, the early deaths of her father and stepmother and her husband, a brilliant architect. Like Ida B. Wells, she was humiliated by racial profiling. In 1884, Ida B. Wells bought a first class for passage on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in the “ladies’ car.” When asked to give up her seat to a white man she refused. She was forcibly thrown of the train. Dori was asked to leave a Hampton Inn. Her offense. Talking to a white man. This is because in the psychotic mind of the American racist every black woman is a prostitute. This was true in 1900 when even churchgoing black women were subject to arrest by the NYPD’s vice squad. This pattern led to the Tenderloin Riot, which happened after a black man got into a fight with a policeman, who was attempting to stop and frisk his girlfriend. The Hampton Inn has refused to apologize. It bothered her. She brought it up every time I talked to her.

And now the physical Dori leaves us, but her legacy will be the flame that will inspire all of those who wish to restore Journalism as a noble profession instead of a ratings driven freak show. A profession that achieves ratings by satisfying the need for some viewers, miserable in their own lives, who can only achieve a high by seeing black and Hispanic people brought low.

We might be approaching the point of no return as the planet begins to resemble Saturn. What was the obsession of the news media last weekend? Who could identify the colors of a dress. Dori fought for a journalism that includes the points of view of the rest of us. The left out. People who don’t own an expensive pair of cuff links, or a designer dress. She, like Nancy and Bob, reached the pinnacle of her profession, but the Maynard Dynasty is not done. It will continue with Alex, a brilliant actor and writer and David, who, as a historian, will unravel all of the lies that have accosted us. A lifetime career.

When I attended the annual Christmas party of the Maynards, I noticed that Dori wasn’t present to greet her visitors. They said that she was on the second floor in bed. I figured that she had a cold. But when I saw her I realized how sick she was. When I came downstairs, I asked David. How can you stand it? Your mother your father and now Dori. David, cool like his Dad, said: We just have to deal with it. Spoken like a Maynard.

Ishmael Reed’sThe Complete Muhammad Ali” will be published in July. It’s up for pre-order at Amazon.

Reprinted with permission of the author.

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Ishmael Reed is the author of The Complete Muhammad Ali.

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