There have been several articles and Tweets asking why there was no media coverage of the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March. It's a valid question. There was definitely substantially less coverage of this event relative to the overabundance of coverage of the negative occurrences in the African American community. I know the frustration of those who feel that there is an imbalance in how stories about black people are covered in the media. The coverage is too often skewed toward the negative. And the positive things that African Americans gather to do like the Million Man March never receive as much coverage in the main stream media.
I completely agree with that critique. Yet I wrestle with a few things when it comes to the specific critiques about the coverage of this specific march and I struggled with the march itself. I would first of all argue against the notion that the March received NO media coverage. There were several news outlets, including CSPAN who gave this event their full attention. No, it was not covered by the big sensationalized media factories like CNN and Fox. No, I didn't see the story in my local news and that's a problem. But there was some coverage.
Secondly, if you are upset that the mainstream media didn't cover something and you are a member of the non-mainstream media (blogger, contributor, Twitter/Youtube personality) wouldn't it make sense to cover the event as opposed to writing about it not being covered? Wouldn't it make sense to show instead of tell or show and tell? Because at the end of the day multiple think-pieces about how an event wasn't covered still leaves the event effectively uncovered.
The third and final issue I'm wrestling with is the issue of misogyny. Min. Louis Farrakhan's speech on Saturday was two hours and twenty-two minutes long. So I'm sure everyone had zoned out or went home or to the port-o-potty by the time two hours and ten minutes rolled around. Unfortunately, I happened to be watching CSpan at that point. And that's when he began to compare and slut shame women. That's where he started to reinforce archaic gender roles. This is when he took time to uplift the "right" kind of black woman and shame the "wrong" ones. And that's unfortunately when I began to sincerely question whether this event should have gotten media coverage. I also began wonder if it is possible for black men to gather with the goal of uplifting each other without having to subjugate, objectify, shame, and belittle ANY black woman? In general, I wonder if people can ever gather for the sake of their own collective healing without having to reach out and "other" and hurt some other group.
A part of my vocation is anti-racism work. And I often see white people struggle to talk about race and racism if they aren't talking about what's wrong with a person of color. Yet there is a lot of internal work around their own "whiteness" that they could spend their lives unpacking before they ever get to a person of color. And the same is true for black men. There is so much internal work that needs to be done that has nothing to do with what a black woman is wearing or not wearing. And a Million Man March is such a great opportunity to talk about those things. It's a great time to talk about what it means to be a man in this particular season. It's a great time to talk about the trauma black men constantly face being subjected to random, sometimes state-sanctioned, violence from outside and inside your community. It's a great time to marvel in and celebrate the diversity of black manhood and how best to raise well rounded black boys. It's a great time to talk about gender and sexual orientation. It's a great time to talk about faith. It's a great opportunity to talk about how the combination of child sexual abuse, misogyny, homophobia and shame is contributing to the perception and reality of black male hyper-sexuality and the spread of HIV/AIDS. This could have been all about those things. And I'm sure some were covered during the speeches. Yet it seems black men can never get through "positive" event without turning the corner and ending up on misogyny row.
I am a self-identified "In Search of Our Garden" Womanist-Literalist. Therefore I wholeheartedly agree with Alice Walker when she says, "...committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female. Not a separatist, except periodically, for health..." Therefore I believe that a gathering of American men of African descent is imperative. I wouldn't be mad if there were a Million Man March every year. I hope we can do this without the need to push down any "type" of black woman. I know that black men are going to come for me now. But I don't care. It's a new era. It's time for us to find leaders and speakers who can affirm, honor and even challenge all black men and all black women without having to shame, compare, subjugate or oppress.