Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Whose Image?

by Clinton Galloway

The actions that we take on a daily basis are defined by who we believe we are. This is known as our self-image. The question becomes how our self-image is defined. While each of us have some control over the image that we define ourselves as, the bulk of our self-image is defined by others.

The others may consist of friends, peers, family, and neighbors. The most powerful external source of our self-image is media. The power of media to identify our self-image is unprecedented. The advent of electronic media has altered how we see ourselves as opposed to print media.

The increasing power of the video medium known as television has become the single most powerful defining aspect of the self-image of most young Americans. This is especially true in inner-city minority communities who watch more television than any other group in society. In addition to watching more television than any other groups in society urban minority youth and their leaders have less influence over that medium than any other segment of our society.

As television has morphed from broadcast networks to the cable television industry over the past 25 years the ability of African-Americans and other minority groups to become involved in this industry have been limited, with a great assistance of African-American politicians. The negative images which continue to be portrayed of urban minority youth serve to deteriorate the self-image of those youth.

The effects of that deterioration can be seen in the crime statistics, the educational statistics and economic statistics which bear out that urban youth are being left behind in a continually growing and changing world. The continuing image of violence against their neighbors has left many people without trust within their neighbors and their neighborhoods.

Many seek to blame hip-hop music, rap music and the violent themes of many music videos as the chief culprit in this situation. All of these forms are merely expressions of people’s feelings and observations. The chief culprit is that there is no competition for alternative ideas within the system which allows the portrayal of the negative images. Lack of competition for the minds of our youth continues because of the lack of competition in the number of distribution outlets that are available. When six corporations control 90% of all media then the thought of competition is greatly reduced.  These conglomerates have been allowed to rise and prosper with the assistance of government corruption and malfeasance.

In urban communities this corruption and malfeasance has been led by elected officials who seek to benefit themselves at the expense of the communities they have been sworn to serve. When the opportunity existed for significant participation in the cable-television market and thereby the video distribution market African-Americans were locked out of the industry, in violation of the United States Constitution, with the direct assistance and complicity of African-American elected officials and bureaucrats.
Now the same media conglomerates that control the video medium seek to control access to the Internet by determining what speed you may receive your information at. The concept of net neutrality has become a major issue.   Cable television will speak of the free market and its right to limit the speeds at which information is distributed at its choosing. The underlying truth however is that cable television was created with large political contributions and the corruption and malfeasance of local government officials throughout the United States. This is not merely an issue in urban minority communities but is an issue in all of America.
The concept that an industry was created by paying government officials to limit competition within that industry and thereby the free market should now claim the benefits of free markets is little more than hypocrisy.  Only by having input into the information and images that are projected regarding ourselves can we improve the quality of the self-image of our youth both in urban and rural areas. This cannot come when a corruption created industry is allowed to limit access to information based upon its own self-interest.

All cable television companies use public right of ways to deliver the service they grosses them approximately $100 billion a year. The use of the public right of ways should be for the benefit of the public not for the benefit of corporations who buy politicians like commodities. You can be sure that the cable television industry will be making large contributions to political figures in order to achieve their goals. As citizens we must make it our priority to assure ourselves that those politicians who have been purchased will no longer remain in office. The price of failure to regain control of the right of ways that the public owns shall be devastating. Each of us has an interest in that which is owned by the public. How we protect this interest and allow this interest to be used will determine who we are in the future.

If you are satisfied with the deteriorating values of our youth and lack of morals demonstrated within our society and do nothing then surely you shall get the results. If, however, you believe you have an obligation to protect the rights that are guaranteed by the United States Constitution you must make an effort and take a stand against those politicians who would allow our resources to be used exclusively by their large political contributors. The answer lies in the hands of the American public.

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