Black, Brown Nations Long Dissed by Media

  • Trump’s Targets Strike Back, at Home and Abroad
  • West’s Wealth Came From Places Trump Slandered. . .
  • ‘Not Just Racist, but Inaccurate’
  • Haitian-American Anchor: It Was ‘Mean,’ ‘Racist’
  • Who’s Reporting the Thinking Behind the Racism?
  • Press-Freedom Monitors Visiting U.S.
  • Writer Sees ‘Five Decades of White Backlash’
  • Tale of Bad Date With Aziz Ansari Stirs Debate
  • Stabbing Is Mexico’s First Journalist Killing of Year
  • Short Takes
This illustration appeared Tuesday in the Star in Kenya over an opinion piece, “Maybe Africa deserves to be called a shithole.” Author Dannish Odongo wrote, “[W]hile it hurts when we are called funny names by unstable leaders, and disrespected, we have the power to change the narrative, but we just don’t want to.”

Trump’s Targets Strike Back, at Home and Abroad

The president of the United States essentially called black and brown countries ‘shitholes,’ ” Karen Attiah, the Washington Post’s global opinions editor, wrote Friday.


“The Internet is aflame with outrage over his comments. 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 ‘shitholes.’ This TV-loving president is a product of a media culture that has systemically covered places in Africa and places like Haiti only 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 cliche-white savior journalism . That helps to explain why Louise Linton, the now-wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, was able to publish an article in the Telegraph (which was later removed from its website) based on her cliche-addled, self-published memoir about her gap year in Zambia. She wrote in the book that Africa is rife with hidden dangers: ‘I witnessed random acts of violence, contracted malaria and had close encounters with lions, elephants, crocodiles and snakes.’

“Never mind that lazy ‘Ooga-Booga’ journalism (as journalist Howard French calls [it]) 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 their own cars, embrace biometric technology and venture into space exploration. When it comes to Africa, American media is rarely interested in positive headlines. . . .”


Attiah also wrote, “Trump’s comments are just the latest proof that the United States is being led by a man who is an unabashed white supremacist, one who aims to implement policies that will make America white again by limiting immigration from black and brown countries and deporting those who are already here. But in the storm of mainstream anger, 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.”

Roy S. Johnson, Thanks to Trump, who’s really the shithole country?

Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Donald Trump vs. the world leaves America increasingly isolated


Dannish Odongo, the Star, Kenya: Maybe Africa deserves to be called a shithole

Teresa Wiltz, Pew Charitable Trusts Stateline: For Some Black Immigrants, Life in Limbo (Sept. 27)

Haitian community members gather at the Southern Boulevard bridge in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday to protest reports of President Donald Trump’s recent vulgar remarks against Haiti. (Damon Higgins/Palm Beach Post)

West’s Wealth Came From Places Trump Slandered

President Trump’s comments disparaging immigrants from Haiti and the African continent have stunned many in the United States and other parts of the world,” Howard W. French, former Africa correspondent for the New York Times, wrote Sunday for the Washington Post.


“I see this as an opportunity to challenge the American public to confront this reality: More than any other factor, it is the wealth derived from Africa, especially the labor of people taken in chains from that continent, that accounts for the rise of the West and its centuries of predominance in world affairs.

“The facts of this history hide in plain sight, and yet Americans and others in the West have averted their eyes for 500 years. The West’s ascension over other parts of the world has been attributed, instead, to innate Western qualities, including rationality and a talent for invention and innovation, or Western institutions. It is this distortion of reality — a delusion, really — that fuels attitudes of white superiority, whether subtle and pervasive, or as crude as those exhibited by someone like Trump.


“In reality, the West’s takeoff, beginning at the end of the 15th century, was founded on its proximity both to Africa and to what we now call the Caribbean and Latin America — the very regions that Trump has slandered. In time, the West would display a ruthless will to plunder the these regions, robbing them of their human and natural resources. . . .”


. . . ‘Not Just Racist, but Inaccurate’

Commentators of color on the Sunday talk shows rose to the defense of black and brown countries, in some cases because that is where they were born.


On CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday, Tennessee-born Van Jones, the activist and CNN commentator, defended African immigrants by citing numbers.

Part of I think what is important to keep in mind,” Jones said of President Trump’s comment, “not only were those comments racist, they are also just inaccurate. When you have 30 percent of Americans have college degrees, 43 percent of African immigrants have college degrees, 10 percent of white Americans have advanced degrees, 25 percent of Nigerian-Americans have advanced degrees.


“So, he’s just dealing with a stereotype from his childhood that has no relationship or little relationship with what’s going on right now. And I think what I’m proud of is that the media just called it like it is. If he said — listen, I only want skills-based people, I only want engineers if they are from Nigeria, if they’re from Norway, I only want engineers. That’s not racist.

“But when you say the whole country is not welcomed, that is the definition, textbook, of racism. And I’m glad that the media just called him on that. He wasn’t saying, I want skills-based people no matter what color. He said, I want people from this country no matter — in Norway, no matter how unqualified, and I don’t want anybody from these countries no matter how qualified. That’s the definition of racism. . . .”


In a discussion of whether media should repeat the word “shithole,” Jones said, “what the other thing journalists have to do, though, is to go even deeper and to point out a couple of things. It’s not just African countries are all basket cases and all the African immigrants are just here pulling America down, we just shouldn’t use the word ‘shithole’.

“That — it was not about making the stereotypes a little bit more palatable. It’s about pointing out that African immigrants are coming here in neighborhoods from Oakland to the Bronx, bringing down the crime rate, bringing up the learning rate, bringing up the entrepreneurship and making America great — same with Haitians and same with El Salvadorians.


“In other words, this idea that — well, maybe they really are shithole places, you just shouldn’t say it, and maybe the people who are coming here are not be worthy to be here, that also needs to be challenged based on facts. The educational attainment for African immigrants exceeds the educational attainment for European immigrants.

“Nobody was aware of that.

“So, if you want to have the conversation about what’s going to make America great again, let’s have it.


“One last point I have to make, if you close the door to immigration as severely as Trump wants to, shut it down, you know who gets hurt the most? Trump’s older, white retiring voters who are going to then be living in a country where we’ll be like Japan. We don’t have enough young people in America. We’re going to have a bunch of older people in America.

“We need immigration to keep the economy going, so that their retirements can be secure. So, it’s not just racist. It’s not just counter factually. It’s also politically stupid to keep out the younger part of the world that wants to come here and make our economy work.

Helene Cooper

“This is just dumb and wrong and racist across the board. Let’s have that conversation, and not only have the conservation about the vulgarism. The vulgarism is just the additional harm to the country.”


On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Helene Cooper, born in Liberia and now a Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times, said she took Trump’s comments personally.

I feel like we’ve crossed the point now as this country when you look at our image abroad, internationally, this country has always been seen as a nation of immigrants,” Cooper said. “And I’m one of them coming from Liberia, which I guess would qualify for one of those African countries that President Trump disparaged earlier last week.


“What I find really disturbing about this, but just take President Trump aside, because I think this is the sort of thing that we expect from him, but what I find really upsetting about this is that for so many years, I felt like such a proud American. I feel very much like this is my country. But I also feel — one of the reasons I’ve always felt proud is because this is a country where when my family left Liberia when I was 14 years old, we could have gone anywhere.

“But I would never have gotten to the point that I got in my life if we had gone somewhere other than the United States. I would never have become a New York Times reporter. It would’ve been a whole lot harder to do what I was able to do here if we had gone to Europe or somewhere like that. And I — that has always made me proud of this country. That this is a country that you can come to with nothing and you can make something of yourself. And I feel like that — we’re starting to lose that. And I can’t begin to describe just how upsetting that can be personally, but just how much damage that can do to the United States around the world and how other people look at us.”


On “Fox News Sunday,” Juan WIlliams, who was born in Panama, was part of that show’s discussion of Trump’s stance in the immigration policy debate.

And in the lottery system, what he clearly said was, why do we need people from these s-hole countries because right now they’re underrepresented,” Williams said. “And the reason the lottery exists is to make sure that there’s more adequate representation of people who have not been coming.


Moderator Chris Wallace interjected, “All right, let me — let me —”

Williams continued, “And he spoke not about the countries when saying that, but about the people who would be included in the lottery. That’s why it’s so personal to people like me.”


Signe Wilkinson, Philadelphia Daily News: Mr. President, please, no more Norwegians!


Credit: WFAA-TV (video)

Haitian-American Anchor: It Was ‘Mean,’ ‘Racist’

On the 4 p.m. newscast Friday on WFAA-TV in Dallas, anchor Alisha Laventure concluded a report about local pastor Albert Jeffress’ support of President Trump’s immigration comments with a pause before saying, “I want to be honest with you. I’ve been struggling with what the president said yesterday.


“My parents were born in Haiti. They immigrated to this country as children.

“They had nothing when they came here.

“Think about the amount of grit and courage it takes to leave your home, to cross ocean waters and to start over in a new country. . . .”


Laventure went on to say of Trump, “How can he be so crass, so vulgar? He’s done this before. Enough is enough! If the head of any corporation said what the president said yesterday, that person would be fired.

“Why should we accept any less from the President of the United States of America? A country, by the way, that’s played a hand in the poverty Haiti and other nations face today.


“We have a right and a responsibility to hold the president to a higher standard.

“His rhetoric falls far from it.

“If my job is to report the truth — the truth is, what the president said was hurtful. It was mean. And to be blunt — it was racist. . . .”


On Facebook Monday, a posting of Laventure’s comments had reached 82,000 people.

Aaron Blake, Washington Post: Trump’s ‘shithole’ comment about Haiti lends credence to report he said Haitians ‘all have AIDS’


Edwidge Danticat, Miami Herald: Haitians are used to insults. Friday, we mourned. Today, we fight.

Editorial, Miami Herald: So, Mr. President, would you say South Florida is a ‘shithole’ too?


Jon Schwarz, the Intercept: Donald Trump’s Vile Words Should Remind Us That America Owes Everything to Haitians

Who’s Reporting the Thinking Behind the Racism?

“. . . Can we learn anything from this one? Maybe.” Margaret Sullivan wrote Sunday in her Washington Post media column.


“Most news organizations handled the use of a profane word with professionalism: If the president says it, it’s news. They used it, mostly verbatim or in some thinly veiled form.

“Fewer, though, were successful at getting beyond the shock value of the word and exploring the racist — yes, racist — thinking behind it.


“Should the news media be using that charged word for the president of the United States? Only when absolutely warranted. Which it clearly is. . . .”

Grace Bennett, Media Matters for America: Here are the right-wing media figures defending Trump’s racist “shithole” comment


Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Trump Is a Racist. Period.

Lawrence Bonk, Mediaite: Katy Tur Lists Examples of Trump’s Alleged Racism in Scaramucci Grilling: ‘I Can Keep Going’


Michael A. Cohen, Boston Globe: Trump was not elected despite his racism. He won because of it

Julia Craven, Huffington Post: Media Euphemisms For ‘Racist’ Are Stupidly Tinged

Editorial, Chicago Sun-Times: The racism at the core of Donald Trump

Editorial, Seattle Times: Trump’s most recent slur confirms he is a racist

Michael Gomez, Victoria (Texas) Advocate: the president a racist?

Casey Hopkins, Mediaite: Why is The Media Still Asking if President Donald Trump is Racist?


Robert Mackey, the Intercept: “Mr. President, Are You a Racist?” Is the Question Reporters Should Never Stop Asking Donald Trump

Eric Ortiz, TruthDig: Denormalizing Hate

Dan Rodricks. Baltimore Sun: Trump’s Dreamers decision is all about racism, not business


Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Yep, Donald Trump is a racist all right. Now what do we do?

Jeff Yang, CNN: Say the words as plainly as Trump does

Press-Freedom Monitors Visiting U.S.

John Yearwood (YouTube screenshot)

“Marking one year after the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States, the International Press Institute (IPI) will join a Jan. 15 to 17 international mission to the United States to assess changes in the media and press freedom landscape in the country and bring concerns to the attention of relevant authorities,” the institute said on Friday.

“In a series of meetings with media and government representatives, as well as with legislators, policymakers and other experts, in the states of Texas and Missouri, and in Washington, D.C., international mission delegates will discuss the consequences of threats to journalists and heightened anti-press rhetoric on journalists’ ability to carry out their job without fear of retaliation.


“The international mission, led by the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the IFEX network of freedom of expression groups, also reflects concerns that the United States, long considered a leading defender of press freedom rights, is weakened in its ability to serve as a role model in the defence of such rights around the world.

“ ‘President Trump’s frequent bashing of the media has emboldened autocratic leaders around the world to do the same,’ IPI Executive Board Chair John Yearwood, who will join the International Press Freedom Mission to the United States, said. . . .”


Yearwood is a former world editor of the Miami Herald.

Committee to Protect Journalists: In response to Trump’s fake news awards, CPJ announces Press Oppressors awards (Jan. 8)


Jessica Estepa, USA Today: Gallup/Knight survey: Americans believe media matters, but don’t think it’s doing its job

Laurie Kellman and Jonathan Drew, Associated Press: Trust in news media takes a hit during Trump presidency

St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden and Director of Public Safety Jimmie Edwards carry a banner in the Martin Luther King Jr. parade on Monday down the city’s Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. (Laurie Skrivan/ St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Writer Sees ‘Five Decades of White Backlash’

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated,” Vann R. Newkirk II wrote Monday for the Atlantic. “In response, a week later President Lyndon B. Johnson scrambled to sign into law the Fair Housing Act, a final major civil-rights bill that had languished for years under the strain of white backlash to the civil-rights movement. [PDF]”Five years later a New York developer and his son — then only a few years out of college — became two of the first targets of a massive Department of Justice probe for an alleged violation of that landmark act.


“After a protracted, bitter lawsuit, facing a mountain of allegations that the two had engaged in segregating units and denying applications of black and Puerto Rican applicants, in 1975 Trump Management settled with the federal government and accepted the terms of a consent decree prohibiting discrimination. So entered Donald Trump onto the American stage.

“The country has changed since those turbulent days. Many of the major policies created to end the era of de jure white supremacy and address King’s campaigns against segregation and for voting rights have become entrenched in law, bureaucracy, and the courts.


“Overt racism and bigotry have acquired the stink of faux pas, integrated spaces persist in some places, and there’s even been a black president. But in this Pax Americana, the seed of resistance to those ideas and policies that King championed also germinated across generations. Now that the man who made his name flouting the spirit of King is president, the tree has borne its most ripe fruit. . . .”

Newkirk summarized much of the commentary about Monday’s commemoration of Martin Luther King Day.


Stacy M. Brown, National Newspaper Publishers Association: MLK’s Unheralded Victories Recorded in the Black Press

D.L. Chandler, Little Known Black History Fact: James Farmer


Editorial, Buffalo News: On King’s birthday, voting rights remain under assault

Editorial, Los Angeles Times: America clearly has a long way to go to reach Martin Luther King Jr.’s promised land


Jerry Large, Seattle Times: Martin Luther King Jr. predicted backlash against economic and racial progress

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: One gets used to being shoved aside when voting while black


Kirsten West Savali, The Root: Hey, Democrats: MLK Was Talking About You, Too

Tale of Bad Date With Aziz Ansari Stirs Debate

Aziz Ansari

Amid all the debate over an anonymous woman’s account of a sexual encounter with Aziz Ansari, the editors at who published the story have remained quiet,” Brian Stelter reported Monday for CNNMoney.

“The site was not well known before the Ansari story — but it is getting a lot of attention now, much of it critical and even dismissive.


Joshi Herrmann, editor-in-chief of Babe’s parent company Tab Media, says the editors have zero regrets. ‘We would publish this again tomorrow,’ he told CNNMoney on Monday.

“ ‘It’s newsworthy because of who he is and what he has said in his standup, what he has written in his book, what he has proclaimed on late night TV,’ Herrmann said. ‘Her account is pointing out a striking tension between those things and the way she says he treated her in private.’


“The 23-year-old woman, named ‘Grace’ in the story, was granted anonymity by Babe. CNN does not know her identity.

“In the story, she recounted an uncomfortable date with the 34-year-old Ansari, star of Netflix’s ‘Master of None.’ She said she was repeatedly pressured to have sex and ultimately ‘felt violated’ by his behavior. She said she had oral sex with Ansari, but not intercourse. . . .”


Among the story’s detractors was Caitlin Flanagan, who wrote Sunday for the Atlantic:

Twenty-four hours ago — this is the speed at which we are now operating — Aziz Ansari was a man whom many people admired and whose work, although very well paid, also performed a social good. He was the first exposure many young Americans had to a Muslim man who was aspirational, funny, immersed in the same culture that they are. Now he has been — in a professional sense — assassinated, on the basis of one woman’s anonymous account. Many of the college-educated white women who so vocally support this movement are entirely on her side.


“The feminist writer and speaker Jessica Valenti tweeted, ‘A lot of men will read that post about Aziz Ansari and see an everyday, reasonable sexual interaction. But part of what women are saying right now is that what the culture considers “normal” sexual encounters are not working for us, and oftentimes harmful.’

“I thought it would take a little longer for the hit squad of privileged young white women to open fire on brown-skinned men. I had assumed that on the basis of intersectionality and all that, they’d stay laser focused on college-educated white men for another few months. But we’re at warp speed now, and the revolution — in many ways so good and so important — is starting to sweep up all sorts of people into its conflagration: the monstrous, the cruel, and the simply unlucky.


“Apparently there is a whole country full of young women who don’t know how to call a cab, and who have spent a lot of time picking out pretty outfits for dates they hoped would be nights to remember. They’re angry and temporarily powerful, and last night they destroyed a man who didn’t deserve it.”

Stabbing Is Mexico’s First Journalist Killing of Year

Carlos Domínguez Rodriguez

A Mexican freelance journalist was killed in Nuevo Laredo, a city on the country’s border with the U.S., on the afternoon of Jan. 13,” Teresa Mioli reported Monday for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

Carlos Domínguez Rodríguez, 77, was stabbed 21 times inside his vehicle, according to what the Attorney General’s Office of Tamaulipas told a radio program. . . .


“In the last year he began publishing a political column independently on different networks, according to El Mañana. The newspaper added that one of Domínguez’ last columns, published on several sites, was titled ‘Violence shakes Mexican soil in the pre-election season.’ . . . “

Emmanuel Colombié, the head of Reporters Without Borders’ Latin America bureau, said, “It is alarming to see that, for Mexico’s journalists, 2018 is beginning as badly as 2017 ended. Mexico must not continue to be the world’s second deadliest country for the media in 2018. This latest murder must be the subject of an immediate and independent investigation.”


The Reporters Without Borders report said, “Masked men dragged Domínguez from the car in which he was travelling and stabbed him repeatedly. He was the first journalist to be murdered this year in Mexico.”

Short Takes

C.S. Keys

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Richard Prince’s Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a “column.” Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.


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