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    Posted December 5, 2014 by
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Black Lives Matter protests (2014)

    omekongo and 14 other iReporters contributed to Open Story: Your view of police brutality protests
    More from omekongo

    When Brooke Baldwin speaks to Seinfeld on anti-Semitism...

    I have been a fan of CNN reporter Brooke Baldwin for years and continue to be. I have always respected her passion and fearlessness when it comes to getting to the heart of the story. Her recent and incredibly candid interview with NBA legend Charles Barkley, however, really had me perplexed. I know that Mr. Barkley is always outspoken, but why was HE being asked about Ferguson? I was searching my mind for an answer to this question, and TNT co-analyst Kenny Smith explained perfectly what I was thinking when he wrote in his open letter to Barkley:

    “what I consistently find interesting is how writers and media members view your insights in politics, and now race relations, with the same reverence as your insights in sports.”

    Reading this statement made everything click for me. My main issue is this: why is that mainly black entertainers are called on to speak about issues facing the black community? While Baldwin often speaks to a diverse range of people on any issue, that is not the case for mainstream media in general. Why isn’t comedian Jerry Seinfeld called on to speak about an incidences of anti-Semitism or NFL quarterback Andrew Luck called on to offer an opinion on Ferguson? Is Channing Tatum called on to speak about the suicides committed by gay teenagers? Why is it that white entertainers can just be entertainers but black entertainers have to be all things to all people?

    Let me be very clear. I do not always agree with what Charles Barkley says but I will never call him a “sellout” or “Uncle Tom” as others have done. I also have respect for Chris Rock and Steve Harvey but I became frustrated when the media selected Chris Rock to be the expert on black hair after he made his movie “Good Hair” and Steve Harvey was deemed a marriage and relationship guru after writing a few books and making a few movies on the issue. This is not about them but about the people the media sees as being able to speak for the black community. While it is true that all opinions matter, when it comes to the media calling upon experts to speak to issues, just being black, rich, on television, and making us laugh or smile should not be the starting (and usually sole) criteria.

    There are real experts and authors in the black community whose job it is not to entertain us who can speak on issues facing the community better than anyone. While I credit news networks like CNN for their racial and gender diversity when talking about legal issues from Bill Cosby to school shootings, there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done by all networks in terms of diversifying the cast of black guests who appear on these television shows.

    While it is true that intellectuals like Dr. Michael Eric Dyson can be seen on the airwaves speaking to issues facing the black community, he and other real experts are often juxtaposed with the positions of Charles Barkley. Again, I do not see this happening with other communities. If the media is going to be serious about analyzing issues within the black community (and dare I even say, outside of it), then there should be a re-examination of the people who are called upon to speak for us, even if they do not represent a “mainstream” black view. To not do so is to reinforce the notion that there are not enough educated black people outside of the entertainment community to speak for us and that is a dangerous stereotype to reinforce.
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