(pick your afro daddy, ‘cuz its flat on one side…)
Today, the news broke out that Lauryn Hill will be incarcerated for at least three months for not paying her back taxes. This battle between her and the state has been a reoccurring issue that many believe to be the cause of her signing to record with Sony Records.
Last week, exiled Black Freedom Fighter Assata Shakur was named as the number 1 domestic terrorist in the United States. Her bounty rose from 1 million to 2 million.
(dope documentary, gityolife!)
Also last week, high school student Kiera Wilmot was arrested and expelled from Bartow High School in Polk County, Florida. Her chemistry experiment, which turned into a accident, which turned into a minor explosion, resulted in two felony charges alongside her expulsion from the school district.
Although the normalization of the black female body within the prison industrial complex has been entirely noted- the reaction to such incidents is what has bothered me. Today, and even last week, I have noticed mainstream black media focusing on these stories lightly, and even in some token making jest of these situations. This post I am going to highlight some of those writings, and suggest that our community is not either a. mediating our media, or b. not critical at all of the media we are consuming and reporting.
Last week, and even yesterday the 6th, I listened to Dallas’ local radio sensation 97.9’s Veda Loca give her two cents about Lauryn Hill’s case and future incarceration sentence. She conduced the ordeal to something along the lines of “you know Lauryn, you are looking more and more like Wesley Snipes everyday”. She then chuckled about the failed attempt of Lauryn bringing more than what she owed to court- as if her and the listener understood that no matter what Lauryn wanted to happen, she was going to go to jail- based on her identity. Other news site seemed to not dive further into the issue- for her single “Neurotic Society” actually received more press than the actual indictment. To read more about Lauryn’s thoughts on the case and society at large- her tumblr is a great source.
I do not know if I was more mad at the fact that supposed black twitter philosophers stated “I need to read more about Assata” or that many Black news outlets, especially those that use important news as a filler for their lack of pop culture diatribe of the day, chose to link Assata Shakur’s threat from the state to the visit that Beyonce and Jay Z made to Cuba a couple of weeks ago (which again was permitted by the state department). A perfect opportunity to shed light and fully educate our communities on the political prisoners that served as freedom fighters during the 1970’s and 1980’s that have sorely been forgotten was lost to simple rhetoric about foreign policy between the US and Cuba.
Finally, outside of liberal news outlets, I have yet to hear decent reporting about the Wilnot case, and moreover, how it represents the school- to- prison pipeline that is becoming ever to common in the United States. I have seen some reports suggesting that the act was racist- but the notion of the incident being based in racial misogyny is far gone.
Black media needs to step up, address, and being to facilitate mediums for our community to recognize these systemic issues so we can put a stop to it. Being bombarded with the news of Tyler the Creator‘s end with Mountain Dew due to supposed racism via the phony Dr. Boyce Watkins, to the announcement of Lil Wayne being dropped from Mountain Dew ( which some folks have argued was not necessary) due to his gross line about getting the ( and I am self editing) “female private beat like Emmitt Till”, makes me wonder where Black journalism is headed for the future. It seems as though for every Melissa Harris-Perry there are five Sandra Roses’ who seem to have more validity and news-worthy opinions to share with the rest of us. I just wonder if those first Black newspaper editors and photographers really thought that this crap we are exposed to would be the product of their hard work.