As a wee tot I was drummed out of the Cub Scouts for a rules infraction, something that should have alerted my parents to the fact they, in all likelihood, had a budding contrarian on their hands. This must have scared me for life since thereafter I’ve always subscribed to the Groucho Marx maxim, “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.”
The only exception to this rule has been my membership in the Greater Cleveland Association of Black Journalists, which is a chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, the organization that wrapped up its annual confab in New Orleans over the weekend — but not without controversy.
Omarosa Manigault, the curvaceous black member of the Trump administration (who, since first appearing on The Apprentice, has alternately been described as everything from an Aunt Jemima to the president’s bed wench), was a last-minute inclusion on a panel of journalists that were set to discuss police brutality, and in short order all hell broke loose.
The panel’s moderators, Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times and Jelani Cobb of The New Yorker, pulled out in protest of Manigault’s attempt to set pre-conditions for her participation. She supposedly is an advocate on issues concerning African Americans at the White House but was not willing to discuss the harmful policies of the president she works for — and I can’t say that I blame her all that much.
How on earth can any person of color defend a president that has instructed his attorney general to ratchet back up arrests for petty pot possession, called for police to “rough up” suspects, is attempting to roll back affirmative action in college admissions, and generally has set such a hateful tone and tenor in the country that the Ku Klux Klan is once again gaining new members after many years of decline?
But Manigault is not the only black who lies to themselves — and by extension to other blacks — by saying they are merely staying close to Trump so they can keep an eye on him to assure that he does the right thing by us; there certainly are others, but few that seek to be as high profile as Manigault.
Enough of a track record has been amassed by this hateful, dangerous demagogue that the lies black hirelings are attempting to sell are no longer holding water. I really can’t blame Hannah-Jones and Cobb for refusing to grace the stage with such an obvious opportunist, someone that is willingly selling out their race for the intoxication brought on by proximity to power and the promise of wealth and fame. If what Manigault is doing is “advocating for blacks,” then she is doing a piss poor job.
But, after all, this was a gathering of black journalists, and how would it look if this group — many of whose members have had to fight to be heard — denied someone the right to express their opinion? This was a real conundrum for the organizers.
The host of Bounce TV, Ed Gordon, stepped in to save the day by moderating the panel, but Manigault was only willing to talk about the subject she was interested in (the killing of her father and brother some years ago and how those killings affords her street cred) and not the police brutality the president has, on more than one occasion, advocated. After jousting back and forth for over a half hour (and probably far too long), the entire scene dissolved into chaos and Manigault made a quick and unceremonious exit. Of course she will now get as defensive as her boss.
But she was indeed allowed to speak, which was the right thing to do. The fear (which in the end proved all too real) was that she would turn the event into a one-woman minstrel show, which she did. And while Manigault seemingly has no shame, the serious-minded journalists in attendance were mortified, no doubt feeling that as a group they’ve worked too hard maintain the respectability that was handed down to them by a host of talented and dedicated black journalists, going all the way back to Freedom’s Journal, the first black newspaper printed in America in 1827 John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish.
However, just because we want to protect First Amendment rights by granting them to folks who want to speak doesn’t mean we have to grant them an audience. I would have done the right thing also, by storming out of the venue in protest, as many of my brother and sister journalists did.
Hooray for them.
From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.com.