August 27, 2014
Dissed, Dismissed & Dumbstruck
On July 21, Insider Louisville published its “Insider Watch List,” an inventory of 30 emerging leaders that it says we should know in 2014. “We’re using this list to recognize people who’ve accomplished and inspired recent feats of vision,” Insider Louisville wrote, “people with strong views and a future-forward perspective.
The folks listed had pretty impressive qualifications, but I didn’t see any names I recognized and I definitely know some awesomely diverse emerging leaders. Only six photos accompanied the article and they were all of white people. While I was happy to see a fair share of women represented, I simply can’t accept as legitimate any list of emerging leaders that doesn’t include at least a few black or brown folks in a roster of nearly three dozen. I tweeted and Facebooked Insider Louisville a few weeks ago with a simple, easy to answer question: “How many of these emerging leaders are people of color?” I still haven’t received an answer from them.
Incidentally, it was Insider Louisville that broke the story of the last minute switcheroo LEO Weekly made for its Aug. 6 issue when the new LEO editor swapped a scheduled West Louisville-inspired cover design for a cover about golf. That Insider Louisville found such a seemingly routine editorial decision “newsworthy” implies a cognizance of the importance of diverse reporting in Louisville media and the need to highlight the West End of Louisville (read: the black part of town) and its residents (read: black people). I find it ironic and laughable that Insider Louisville cared enough about black people to call LEO out for whitewashing the cover, but still refuses to respond to my inquires about its own seemingly lily-white front page story.
Lest anyone mistake me for being a LEO loyalist, I agree that this paper has traditionally done a lackluster job of pandering to anyone beyond Highlands hipster types who love Waterfront Wednesdays and farmers markets. LEO isn’t even available in the West End. But still, Insider Louisville need not throw shade in this direction when it has some ‘splaining to do itself. The Insider Louisville website asserts that it tells stories sharply and accurately “and in a way that respects the intelligence of our audience.” Pretending to not get my tweets or FB messages while purporting to be an “online, multimedia platform” is an insult to my intelligence. I eagerly await a reply to my inquiry.
In other news, WDRB/WMYO general manager Bill Lamb recently went on television and told Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott to “shut up” after she offered some parental reflections as the mother of a black son in light of the recent shooting of an unarmed teenager by the police in Ferguson, Mo. The killing of Mike Brown, coupled with the recent deaths of Trayvon Martin, Kimani Gray, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell and other black men by the guns of cops (or cop wannabes) led Councilwoman Scott to opine on the Aug. 16 episode of my WFPL-produced Strange Fruit radio show that in such cases, “Police officers are paid by taxpayer dollars. The budget is approved by some local government to then pay these individuals to kill our babies.” Lamb’s comments, which aired during his televised “Point of View” segment on the Aug. 19 evening news, were rooted in disrespect, misogyny and white supremacy. While it is OK for folks to disagree, especially liberal politicians and conservative businessmen, it is never, ever OK for a white man to insist that a black woman shut her mouth because what she is saying makes him uncomfortable or uneasy. That Lamb is so unaware of the history of a racist and sexist American society that prioritizes men’s voices over women’s and the opinions of whites over people of color is exactly the type of obliviousness that continues to allow such racial mistrust and illogical fear to create the kinds of situation that is now occurring in Ferguson. Lamb owes Councilwoman Scott an apology, he owes WDRB viewers a better informed commentator and he owes it to himself to do better in the future.
And finally, Rev. Kevin Cosby of St. Stephen Baptist Church was also on WDRB recently discussing Ferguson and admonishing protestors and activists against rallying and protesting Brown’s death because the killing of unarmed black men by police “does not represent a trend” and it is a mistake for black people “to become so emotionally aroused at this particular isolated incident.” Blank stare. And Matthew 7:15 says, “Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”