On the Dr. Dre, DJ Premier combustible collabo ‘Animals’, Anderson Paak rails “Please don’t come around these parts and tell me that we all a bunch of animals. The only time they wanna turn the cameras on is when we’re f*ckin’ shit up… come on!” In this case, “we” being Black people and “they” being the mainstream American media.
There’s an old idiom that says “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Meaning, whoever speaks up is whose needs will be attended to… or as it applies to the relationship between the U.S. mainstream media and people of color, “whoever f*cks sh*t up gets the 24/7, ’round the clock news coverage, update alerts and editorials.”
MLK Jr said “a riot is the language of the unheard.” Considering the media virtually ignores peaceful protests and resistance, “riots” and “lawlessness”–i.e. fighting back–have become the proverbial “squeaky wheel” that gets the media coverage and public awareness (the “grease”). Silence is complicity.
Black people are criticized when we speak up, ‘n*ggerized’ when we act up, and the “if it bleeds, it leads” credo of journalism leaves us in a precarious position of either “rioting” to be heard or suffering in silence. Many frustrated POC are left vexed and wondering as KRS 1 asked in the BDP classic Love’s Gonna Get’cha (Material Love) “now, tell me what the f*ck am I supposed to do?” Turn up?
There is so much analysis and banter on social media and news media about the ‘message’ of the Million Man March; some wondering what it (the message) was. That’s fair enough for a segment of the uninformed general public to be unaware, but is it not the media’s job to know and relay that knowledge to the general public?
I’m not saying the media either covers our peaceful protests “or else”… but I’m sayin’.
If you only hear “the unheard” when we speak the language of “riots” and you turn a deaf ear to millions of us congregating peacefully for the cause, know that your silence is also a part of that dialogue. It’s your choice which wheel to grease; it’s our chore to squeak.
Our goal is to be heard, not to “f*ck sh*t up,” but, either way, silence is not an option. One way or another, we will be heard. #dontBSyourself