by Peter Bailey
When first hearing about TV-One’s cancellation of Roland Martin’s show for “budgetary” reasons, my immediate reaction was bull crap. I am convinced that his show was cancelled because some advertisers and some Trumpets were outraged because of Roland’s Afrocentric perspective when reporting and interpreting news.
Though I didn’t always agree with Roland’s positions on certain issues, for the past five years his thought-provoking, informative, meaningful show was a valuable source of information on what is happening in this country. He introduced his audiences to knowledgeable black folks with expertise in the arenas of economics, education, culture, politics, etc., who are never seen or heard on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, CBS, NBC or ABC. And he did it with an honest swagger that black commentators on those networks had no opportunity to match. White advertisers and political Trumpets were unable to deal with that kind of honest black assertiveness. So they threatened to create “budgetary” problems for TV-One.
Which brings me to a second reaction when hearing about the cancellation: “This is what happens to a group of people who resolutely refuse to organize a comprehensive, national movement that will promote and protect their economic, cultural and political interests in this group-oriented society.
For the past half-century, we, as a group of people, have acted as though we no longer live in a country in which White supremacy/racism is the dominant ideology. White people may disagree among themselves about many things. But one thing that most of them agree upon is that they should be in control of the United States of America. This is still true despite the election and re-election of President Barack Obama.
Too many of us rejoice over symbolic individual achievements such as the first Back president of this or that major corporation, institution, club or organization. When I express disdain about what these symbolic, individual accomplishments do for us as a group of people, I am accused of being “stuck in the 1960s.”
I accept this accusation before reminding the accuser that most firsts haven’t halted the killing of unarmed Black males by police officers, the rising incidents of overt White supremacy on numerous White college campuses, the disgusting way that too many Whites portray Michelle Obama on the Internet or the respectability given to known members of the Ku Klux Klan by Trump and his Trumpets.
These are the consequences of our refusal to organize a national movement to promote and protect our interests. Impulsive marches and protest demonstrations while chanting “No Justice, No Peace,” to counter the above manifestations of White supremacy do not a movement make. Many of these actions have become basically profiling for television.
What is difficult is to organize an ongoing movement that would have made it impossible for TV-One to have cancelled Roland’s show. The station would have let the organization know who was doing the threatening and it could have warned the threateners that messing with that should would inspire a national boycotts of whatever they were advertising to sell to us.
That’s how a group with real power takes care of business. Our most potent weapon against such incidents in this money-driven country is our collective economic resources. If we don’t effectively use those resources in our war for equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity, we are basically blowing smoke.
A. Peter Bailey, whose latest book is Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, the Master Teacher, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.