Magazine article The Crisis

We Contain Multitudes

Magazine article The Crisis

We Contain Multitudes

Article excerpt

Even casual observers of mass media have likely noticed the tendency of news programs and publications to limit their "diversity" coverage to a handful of prominent African Americans. That is, when their papers, magazines and broadcasts are not enthusiastically displaying examples of behavior that appear to confirm the worst stereotypes of Black life. It's hard to read and view such distortions without concluding that purveyors of mainstream media suffer from limited imaginations and a woefully inadequate network of contacts in minority communities. Those kinds of missteps were seldom far from our minds when we assembled our cover feature, "What Should We Do Now?" We wanted to go beyond the roster of usual suspects and take advantage of the immense variety of ideas and institutions at our disposal. As a result, our survey of noteworthy Black thinkers and activists, inspired by Rayford Logan's exemplary work in 1944 (more on that inside), includes a few familiar faces amid individuals whose efforts usually take place beyond the spotlight. We hope the opinions they offer will not be seen as definitive judgments but as the beginning of an ongoing conversation about issues and concerns of particular relevance to readers of The Crisis.

Our battle against the wrongful or incomplete portrayal of minorities has taken many forms, of which the NAACP Image Awards has long been a stalwart example. The 39th edition of the awards, certain to be a showstopper, is previewed on page 41. (Subscribers will find this year's ballot inside.) While discussions about such matters often reflect the viewpoints of African American audiences, this issue of The Crisis also examines the reactions of some of the image makers themselves. Eisa Nefertari Ulen's investigation of the "street fiction" phenomenon includes candid talks with literary authors who must compete for shelf space with creators of far earthier fare. …

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