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January 27, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-01-27

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*I

w

OPINION

Page 4

Friday, January 27, 1989

The Michigan Daily

Police

agents

of

repression

By the Steering Committee
of the United Coalition
Against Racism
This past week, the Overtown section of
Miami has been the sight of Black com-
"munity uprisings. This is the third such
riot in Miami in this decade. The incident
'which allegedly sparked the rebellion was
one in which a police officer shot an un-
armed Black man on a motorcycle in the
head. The shooting occurred over a traffic
violation. The passenger on the motorcy-
cie was also killed. The media coverage of
this issue has been, as usual, biased
afavoring the "official" police recounts of
,the incidents and the subsequent outrage.
There are many underlying tensions sur-
rounding this issue which are not clearly
1xanalyzed in the mainstream media.
The uprisings have been characterized as
racial riots." This is an inaccurate
'assessment. There are not Black, white and
Latino people embattled in the streets. The
Black community's anger does not stem
from any general dislike or distrust of
white or Hispanic people and the impetus
6or the rioting is not "common
criminality." The community's outrage is
clearly directed towards the violence and
brutality of the police force, coupled with
the denial of economic resources from
government and private sources.
the issue of police brutality is not new
j.o Black communities across the country.
r=In fact, one of the major complaints high-
ighted by the Detroit rebellions in '67
was the violence of white cops against
Black inner city residents. The struggle

waged at one point was for the hiring of
more Black cops. Since that time, most
major police departments have been inte-
grated, but the problem of brutality di-
rected at people of color communities re-
mains. Now black and brown faces carry
on the role of defenders of the status quo
and exemplify the same contempt for peo-
ple of color as any white pig. Most news-
papers now report that the officer who did
the shooting was Hispanic. His race is ir-
relevant, his job and his role in the society
are more of a determinant of his actions.

Other media attempts to characterize the
uprisings as strictly Black against Latino
also serve to blur the issues. Although
probably not explicitly stated often
enough, the Black community's anger is
not directed towards individual Latinos,
but instead toward a power structure which
strives to maintain its reserve cheap labor
force by keeping people of color fighting
each other over crumbs. The unemploy-
ment level for Blacks in Miami is almost
double that of Latinos in this majority-
Latino city. Black residents say they feel

ignored by the government which gives
more money and opportunities to immi-
grants, Nicaraguans in particular.
First of all, new immigrants are more
than likely an even cheaper source of labor
which can be used to undercut Black labor.
In addition, the local government has cre-
ated a pattern of giving token concessions
to some incoming Nicaraguans. The pro-
motion of within-class fighting and racial
division between people of color only
serves to strengthen the power of corpora-
tions and businesses while lessening the

bargaining power of workers.
There is a large Cuban population in
Miami which fled Cuba and Castro
immediately before and after the revolu-
tion. Many of this group are now in posi-
tions of power. They are vehemently anti-
Castro, pro-Reagan, overwhelmingly
white and economically well-off. They
have been successful integrated into the
socioeconomic and political landscape of
Miami. Their concern for impoverished
people of color, even Latinos, is not evi-
dent in any indirect manner. It is as much
in their interest to exploit poor people of
color as it is to support U.S. imperialism,
Secondly, the immigration patterns in
Miami must be examined to show both
their underlying ties to U.S. imperialism
and racial biases. While 54% of all
Nicaraguan applications for asylum are
accepted, only 3% of Salvadoran and 0%
of Haitian (predominantly black) applica-
tions are accepted. Obviously U.S. forays
into Third world countries would be un-
dermined if its government allowed immi-
grants fleeing the oppression of an ally or
puppet to enter.
More recent waves of immigrants,
especially those of less privileged class
backgrounds, are not always warmly wel-
comed as the media would like us to be-
lieve. In fact, the recent incidents in Mi-
ami have prompted discussion on reform-
ing immigration laws to prevent such fi-
ture large influxes of people seeking
political asylum. Little discussion has
been sparked on how to better the living
conditions of the poor already living in the
area. Overall, both poor Blacks and Lati-
nos are being exploited and/or ignored by
those in power in Miami, and the color of
the face of the exploiter is transparent.

Associoate Pressoag
A~octed T O~JESSICA GRtEENE/Dally
Police brutality against women and people of color is not new - or unique to Miami or Ann Arbor. Left, a woman
faints after seeing a man injured in a chase with police in Miami's Overtown section Monday. The incident erupted into a
major disturbance involving a crowd of about 75 people and about 125 riot-geared police officers. On the right, Ann Ar-
bor Police and campus security officers push LSA senior Rollie Hudson to the ground in front of Hill Auditorium during
the protested October inauguration of University President James Duderstadt.

a I- !

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. IC, No.84 Ann Arbor MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.-

Miami's

bad

I.
I

a

The objectivity myth

AS PRESIDENT REAGAN prepared to
leave office last week, newspapers
around the country praised his eight
years as President. Typically, The Ann
Arbor News editorialized in glowing
terms about the Reagan years, though it
did concede that "there were humilia-
tions...including the Iran-Contra affair
and failure to bring down the Sandin-
ista government in Nicaragua..."
The News' editorial positions and
news coverage exemplify the U.S.
mass media's ideological and economic
links to Washington. Mass media is
business - big business. Twenty nine
corporations control the majority of
daily newspapers, magazines, televi-
sion, book publishing and film mak-
ing.
The ruling class that controls these
corporations sets much of the political
,-agenda of the U.S. government by
formulating policy options through
s corporate think tanks and by placing
members in the government through
such institutions as the Trilateral Com-
mission and the Council for Foreign
K Relations. Founded by J.D. Rocke-
feller Sr. and J.P. Morgan in 1922, the
Council for Foreign Relations' has
placed members as Secretary of De-
fense, Treasury or State in every ad-
ministration since its founding.
l The Iran-contra affair was indicative
of the close relationship between gov-
emient and the mass media. It was a
humiliation, but only because the media
would not criticize friends in high
a NELSON-
MANDFJA rmir x

places. The Congressional whitewash
of the roles Reagan and Bush played
was bought wholesale by the media.
The issues of the Central Intelligence
Agency and the Nicaraguan contras
smuggling cocaine to pay for arms and
the deal the Reagan transition team
made with Iranian leaders in 1980 to
delay the release of American hostages
until Reagan's inauguration day were
likewise ignored by the mass media.
Shared ideologies and policy goals
influence mass media coverage of the
government., This is easily done
through decisions on what news is
emphasized and what is not. Page one
coverage differs significantly from page
eighteen coverage. Coverage of an is-
sue many times will make it a public
priority, while stories covered once
will be easily forgotten by the public.
Word choice and emphasis within a
story slant an article even more. Thus,
the American media has consistently
run stories portraying the Nicaraguan
contras in a favorable light, while ig-
noring or covering minimally the
bombing of civilians by the U.S.
backed Salvadoran government. The
debate on Nicaragua centers on the
means of destroying the Sandinistas,
while Nicaragua's right to self determi-
nation is never raised as an issue.
Corporate elites, America's ruling
class, are shaping policy and then pre-
tending to report on it objectively.
Those who want the real story should
turn to alternative media sources.

By Samuel I. Ruiz
In Miami, Dr. King's day was celebrated
with violent ethnic confrontations in the
streets. For some this ocurrence was an
unfortunate coincidence, for others it was
another example of an endemic regional
problem. I can think of a third interpreta-
tion - it was an omen, an omen that
emerges from the unlikely fusion of two
elements, a minority community and
prosperity.
When Americans think about Black and
Hispanic communities the word success is
not the first thing that crosses their minds.
There isn't really any reason to expect
otherwise. Even the most likely destiny of
white middle class Americans seems to be
beyond the reach of all but a small portion
of minorities. And although the glam-
orous world of "the rich and famous" in-
cludes a number of outstanding individuals
from minorities, their existence is more
beneficial for the conscience of whites
than it is representative of the expectations
for success in the communities from
which they came.
Americans, anyway, seem to have a
fascination with the stories of those few
fortunate that have risen from the ghettos
to stardom. Somehow, they believe these
stories validate the"American Dream." In
reality, there is nothing particularly
American about it. Non-chauvinistic
minds can find similar stories all over the
world. Even in the land of the
"Communist inferno," a quick glance at
the list of Soviet leaders will confirm that
a number of them were born in poor peas-
ant families. No, the greatness of this
country and our free market system should
not be evaluated in terms of individual ex-
Samuel I Ruiz is a graduate student of
Public Policy.

'While Black Americans have to resort to violence to express,
their anger and frustration, whites can afford more sophisti-
cated channels like the media and political propaganda to make
similar points.'

ceptions, but in terms of the advantages it
provides for social groups.
In the long history of the Hispanic
communities in America, the successful
Cuban experience in South Florida might
give us interesting insight into what mi-
norities can expect to find as they come

omen
insensitive to the way in which their
progress has affected the course of other
ethnic groups' destiny. As a result,
yesterday's covert bigotry is becoming to-
day's uninhibited, explosive racial con-
frontation among the different ethnic
groups - and street riots are just a small

0

closer to the realization of Dr. King's
dream.
As with all minorities, Cubans have
produced remarkable examples of individ-
ual achievement, from the Chairman and
Chief Executive Officer of Coca-Cola to
the leading members of Miami Sound
Machine. But more than that, Cubans as a
group have increasingly reduced the eco-
nomic and political power gap that
"Anglos" (the name Cubans use for non-
Hispanic whites) used to enjoy. Cubans
have generated a sizable number of people
prepared to compete for any of the jobs
that not long ago were almost exclusively
Anglo. In South Florida it is not just the
unskilled white Americans who have to
worry about Hispanics taking their jobs,
but also the bankers, the doctors, the
lawyers, etc.
Cubans have overcome the limited
horizons of quotas and affirmative action,
and instead have created an interpersonal
network and support system that has per-
mitted them to become a symbol of mi-
nority community success. However,
many whites and many Black Americans
don't seem willing to accept the change.
Meanwhile, Cubans have been somewhat

part of it.
The present blatant bigotry, more than a
problem with external color, is a defensive
reaction to internal insecurities and fears
that arise with social change. At the same
time, this makes the omen from Miami
pretty clear: although minorities will have
to deal with covert prejudice on their way
up, once they achieve, as a community, a
position high enough to challenge what
other ethnics consider theirs, bigotry will
become more intense, more open and more
widespread. This omen is more disturbing
in the face of population projections
indicating that the proportion of minority
Americans - especially Hispanic - will
increase substantially in the near future.
Those who think that open bigotry is a
thing of the past are dangerously underes-
timating the potential irrationality of their
peers. Unless minorities learn to truly
support and respect each other, and whites
learn to accept that the price of real equal- *
ity goes beyond sharing restrooms and bus
seats, Americans will fulfill the omen.
And Dr, King's dream will finally die,
consumed by an old, well-known night-
mare.

........... . & :::.
..........:. ..*.. .*
L e tte rs....... th ......d.r...*. .* . .. * .

A sleep
without
dreams
To the Daily:
The Unity March served its
purposes: it unified, if only for
the moment. But it's a begin-
ning. Only one year ago,
ITCAR felt forced to har the

member of this community.
The events scheduled today
went far beyond what can be
learned from any textbook.
Why wasn't the Michigan
League packed with students?
Are students today really so
apathetic? Do grades really take
precedence over all? Do our
social lives rule us? Imagine if
today's activities were being
graded on attendance. No doubt.

Illinois and Pulitzer Prize Win-
ner, read her poetry today could
not help feeling inspired and
optimistic. Lincoln West is
Brooks' fictional, though
frighteningly true creation of a
boy who lived in a world sur-
rounded by fair, blue-eyed
neighbors who contrasted his
black complexion and ugly
hair. Brooks, rather than sur-

room is infirmed in one way or
another," she claims, but we
are all "beautiful with my wing
that is wounded." I left Mich-
igan Ballroom feeling im-
portant, inspired, and most of
all, beautiful.
Martin Luther King Jr.
claimed "The function of
education is to teach one to
think intensivel and ti ihint

Brown bag discussion
_ __! * T *_ 0

"'

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