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July 14, 1989 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1989-07-14

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PERSPECTIVES

The Michigan Daily

Page 7

Fight the power: Black liberation radio

/
by Dr. Manning Marable in the coun side have no access to
by D. Manin Marble accurat information.
Most oppressed people throughout In the United States, we like to
the world are not controlled primar- say that we have "freedom of the
ily by force. Usually, they are denied press." In truth, there is only free-
accurate information by the media or dom for those who own the press.
their government, which helps to Although there are nearly thirty mil-
perpetuate misinformation and polit- lion African-Americans, we have
ical acquiescence. A people kept ig- fewer than three hundred Black-
norant can be politically manipu- owned weekly newspapers. Most
lated. In recent weeks, for example, Black-oriented radio stations broad-
when Chinese students and workers cast little information which can
took to the streets in Beijing, the mobilize the community or provide
Chinese government used the state- political education. And the vast ma-
controlled media to keep the masses jority of white-owned media sources
in line. The vast majority of the one discourage any substantive reporting
billion Chinese peasants and workers which targets police brutality against
nonwhites, or focuses on unem-
Dr. Manning Marable teaches politi- ployment, poverty and institutional
cal science at the University pf racism. In short, the oppressed must
Colorado. "Along the Color Line find ways to develop their own
appears in over 140 newspapers in- sources of communication.
*ternationally. In Springfield, Illinois, DeWayne

Readus, a blind and unemployed of the station by the Federal
African-American, concluded that his Communications Commission. The
neighborhood needed a local source FCC inspector visited the station,
of information which favored the in- and demanded to see a "valid radio
terests of Black people. In station license." Readus replied cor-
December, 1987, with an initial in- rectly that there was no U.S. law re-
vestment of under $600, Readus ini- quiring the licensing of FM radio
tiated Radio Station WTRA-FM, a stations which have less than 100
low-watt station which had a signal watts of power. The inspector at-
reaching one and one half miles. The tempted to intimidate Readus, im-
station was based in Readus' apart- plying that the radio equipment was
ment inside Springfield's John Hay possibly "contraband." The police
Public Housing Project. were called in, and Readus charged
Within months, Readus' programs with an FCC violation which carries
were reaching up to three-fourths of penalties of up to $10,000 or one
the local African-American commu- year in jail. The station was shut
nity. WTRA-FM featured Black mu- down.
sic, but also included commentary Millions of dollars are spent for
programs discussing political and
social issues. Readus' radio com-
mentary criticized local housing au-
thority officials, and discussed local
cases of police brutality. Victims of
police harassment were guests on the
station's programs. Within this hard-
hitting format, Readus also sought
to train young African-Americans n
conducting radio interviews and run-
ning the equipment. Although
WTRA-FM had only one watt of
power, it had become a voice for1
Black liberation in Springfield.
It was inevitable that Readus' ac- ,
tivities would come under political
scrutiny by those in power. Several
months ago, the Springfield Police
Department initiated an investigation

"Radio Free Europe" which pro-
motes U.S. propaganda. The corpo-
rations spend billions here in this
country to get Black consumers to
purchase their products. Yet when a
single African-American exercises
his rights to produce a media source
dedicated to Black liberation, the
government and police respond with
repressive measures. Readus ob-
served: "If we just talked about how
great things were going, we'd still
be on the air. But because we said
that things aren't so great around
here, they shut us down." DeWayne
Readus and other sisters and brothers
like him deserve our support, in the
battle to liberate Black minds.

,Alt
s 1
i
M

Radio Raheem (left), in
Black director Spike
Lee's controversial new
film Do the Right Thing.
In the movie, Raheem
(Bill Nunn) is killed by
the police during a
racially motivated riot
sparked by the
destruction of his
jam-box, which he
carries throughout the
neighborhood booming
out the message of
Public Enemy's rap
song "Fight the Power."

a v

Prospect apologizes, debate continues

b ,rsets dtra leading. The authors and editors also mission which brought thousands of
by Prospect's Editorial apologize for misrepresenting the Jews from Yemen to Israel. Ozery
Staff fundamentalist movement in Iran as explains that Jews from Arab coun-
The Muslim Student Association's "Arab fundamentalism." This was tries never considered themselves
(MSA) article (Daily 6/9/89) clearly a mistake. The MSA fur- "Arab." He adds that the Muslim
W'Prospect Article is Racist" referred nished a valuable lesson about the Arabs living in countries such as
to an article, "The Jews We Forget: danger and prevalence of stereotypes Yemen never thought of the Jews as
A look at the Communities of which make the terms "Arab" and members of the Arab community.
Yemen and Syria", focusing on the "Muslim" synonymous. "Throughout the ages," says Ozery,
plight of Jews living in Yemen and The authors of the op-ed take issue Jews "retained their own religion,
Syria today. Prospect's article offered with our use of the term "Arab" to culture and nationalism." The issue
a historical account of the treatment describe members of the Muslim is not the racial differentiation be-
of Jews in Middle Eastern countries Arab community who committed tween Muslim Arabs and Jews, but
in a subordinate article, "Jews of the violent acts against Jews living in whether Jews were treated as Arabs
Moslem World." While MSA's op- Arab countries. We recognize that and felt a part of the Arab states.
ed did not focus on the main point of Arabs are not an homogeneous The authors of the op-ed fault us
*the article, they did point out places group, but we did not create "a non- for ignoring advances in Jewish cul-
in the subordinate article where they existent dichotomy between Arabs ture during certain periods of
felt offensive wording was used. and Jews." As our article correctly Muslim rule. In fact, the article
The op-ed argues that the term pointed out, most Muslim Arabs points out several periods in which
"Moslem World" is inaccurate when never considered the Jews true Arabs, there were good relations between
referring to Middle Eastern countries. but outsiders and European conspira- the two communities. However, the
The authors of Prospect's article did tors. If Jews had been perceived as restrictions imposed on the Jewish
not intend to promote the stereotype valued members of the Arab com- communities in Middle Eastern
that all or even most Muslims live munity, they would not have been countries in the past, and more im-
in the Middle East. The term was repeatedly relegated to second class portantly, the present, was the focus
meant to refer to a region with a citizenship, killed in riots simply of the article. Muslim and Jewish
Muslim majority and governments because they were Jews, or felt com- cultures have complimented each
dominated by Muslims, and some- pelled to flee their countries. other since Islam's inception. The
times, Islamic law. However, the Yafet Ozery is a Yemeni Jew who author's claim, however, that we are
term is both inappropriate and mis- arrived in Israel via a 1950 rescue to be faulted for not including a de-

tailed description of such advances licit articles representing a wide
suggests that Jews should not expect range of political views. We have
the freedoms which make cultural published several articles attempting
advances possible. to better relations and dialogue be-
The MSA's final assertion is that tween Arabs and Jews on this cam-
our article merely reflected pus. Our first issue of the '88-89
"animosity" between Arabs and Jews school year presented the article,
that is a "relatively new phenomena "Arab and Jewish Students:
which grew out of the process of Speaking about Speaking," in an ef-
establishing the State of Israel." fort to help Jews and Arabs under-
Though no one would deny that the stand the power of dialogue and the
creation of Israel intensified tensions barriers to constructive communica-
between Arabs and Jews, it does not tion. That same issue carried a piece
justify or explain the centuries of called 'Tension and Trust: Efforts
hostility experienced by Jews in towards Co-existence" describing the
many Middle Eastern countries. The work of Palestinians and Jews in the
debate on campus surrounding Israel, Territories to create dialogue and ed-
Zionism and the West Bank and ucation workshops.
Gaza is heated. However, this should For the sake of better communica-
not blind debate on all issues sur- tion we have sent a copy of this re-
rounding Jews, Muslims and Arabs. sponse directly to the Muslim
We apologize for our editorial in- Students Association. We would
sensitivity in the above cited in- have appreciated the same considera-
stances, but we reject the Muslim tion and would have printed their ar-
Student Association's assertion that ticle in Prospect. They chose to
we have only positioned ourselves as write only to the Daily suggesting
antagonists of the Arab and Muslim that they had no sincere interest in
community. Prospect's editorial staff engaging in open dialogue. We hope
is committed to providing an open this is not the case.
forum for debate on issues surround- Prospect is a Jewish student journal
ing the Jewish community. We so- at the University.

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