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Not just this president

The Internet is aflame with outrage over the president's comments this week. There are already many calls to apologize, and there will be more to come.

But let's be real: U.S. media has long treated black and brown countries like "s***holes." This TV-loving president is a product of a media culture that has systemically covered places in Africa and places like Haiti as war-ravaged, disease-ridden and impoverished--when these countries are even deemed worthy of coverage at all.

Studies show headlines from major Western media outlets are largely negative when it comes to Africa. It was just last year that a New York Times opinions essay about Congo waxed on about monkey brains and how the country was perhaps better off 100 years ago under colonialism. Only with Africa coverage can programs such as 60 Minutes get away with parachuting American journalists to Liberia to report on ebola and not interview a single Liberian on camera for the story. Western media and literature are riddled with cliché-white savior journalism.

Never mind that lazy "Ooga-Booga" journalism (as journalist Howard French calls its) fails to reckon with the fact that African countries are home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Never mind that long before mobile money-sharing systems such as Venmo came to the United States, countries like Kenya were using mobile platforms including M-Pesa. Never mind that African countries are beginning to produce cars, embrace biometric technology and venture into space exploration. When it comes to Africa, American media is rarely interested in positive headlines.

My first foray into anything resembling journalism came during my undergrad days at Northwestern when I wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily Northwestern challenging an interview that painted Ghana as a place riddled with diseased children and food that tastes like newspaper. Since then I have spent much of my adult writing life trying to counter these harmful narratives about Africa, trying to convince people that black and brown nations aren't "s***holes" and that black and brown people are not subhuman.

It is hypocritical of the media to fail to reckon with and correct its own practices of reporting on black and brown countries and how this coverage affects perceptions about very real people.

Editorial on 01/13/2018

Comments

23cal says...

What a sad case of whataboutism.
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Regarding "But let's be real: U.S. media has long treated black and brown countries like "s***holes." Ummmm......the vague U.S. media isn't the leader of this country and the official international representative of it. That is the president. No matter the shortcomings of the vague "media", what the president said was the wrong thing to say. It was inappropriate.
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It isn't the job of the media to promulgate international goodwill and friendships. That is the job of the elected leader of this country.......and he just failed miserably. The red herring of the media will only work with the worst of the right wing.

Posted 13 January 2018, 8:14 a.m. Suggest removal

rubythecat96gmailcom says...

then why does our government keep sending our taxpayer's money to the different African countries ? why does our money pay for their Ebola vaccines and mosquito netting. ? why did Italians have inside running water in 79 AD but we send money to different African countries to help fund them to dig wells ?

Posted 13 January 2018, 6:47 p.m. Suggest removal

rangerm says...

Racism is a learned experience, the environment a person grows up in and is exposed to determines their growth of the issue. Senator Tom Cotton who served bravely in our armed forces and was honored for that service has now exposed that environment . His confederate flag is flying once again with cowardice and political ambition, one can be a patriot and serve his or her country , it is the life they lead in the civilian society they represent after . Tom Cotton has changed , his blind faith is not admirable, we do not follow a man , we follow our constitution and moral rights. For all people we fight and die for freedom , not racist views or wrongs of a President, this president has baited the base of division , the deep south has fallen for it once again, Trump is a divisive and inherently evil person with no compass , the people or trump cult have a myopic view and will not change , a 71 yr. old man who was born into a millionaire life with maids and private schools , along with gangster connections thru his fathers world and his will not change,does Sen . Cotton believe his ambitions and loyalty to one man who is now President Trump will over ride our core values as a people and our constitution of the USA. I also served as a US MARINE /RECON , I have the core of SEMPER FIDELIS , we fight for freedom of all people regardless of education or religion or economic status or their RACE or Color ..Sen Cotton .. you have turned into a POLITICAL COWARD, why you abandoned the honors you deserved from your service to our country is your own personal demons .

Posted 15 January 2018, 1:04 p.m. Suggest removal

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