The Black Face of Racism in Ebony

I just picked up the July 2007 issue of Ebony that advertises in bold white letters against a black background: "An Honest Examination of Race, Language, and The Culture of Disrespect." Flipping through the pages of that particular section in the magazine I'm struck immediately by a couple things. First, the examination involves only opinions of black people. All other races are excluded from the dialogue. Second, several of the pages, in the footer, run blurb after blurb of historical instances of white racism. Third, references to Don Imus and his infamous quote are ubiquitous, including one that refers to his comment as a "sexually abhorrent tongue-lashing" and adding that "The moment was historic because the nation had finally reached a negativity limit and people reacted in protest." Hmmmm, well, I kinda thought it was because Al Sharpton seized on it and sounded the trumpets of God for weeks, no? Maybe it was historic then.

It recalls a story from a friend of mine who was quickly slapped by a couple of "white liberals" because he dared suggest in open conversation that Sharpton, given his history, should admit his own racism, and that all racism is wrong. And, btw, do hypocrites like Sharpton have the moral authority to address issues of racism? I ask you. But anyone can say whatever they want, of course.

Back to Ebony. Upon closer examination of the examination, I came upon an especially interesting article by Adrienne P. Samuels entitled "The Culture of Disrespect." BTW, here is a quote from Ms. Samuels from an interview-article online:

If people write to me, I've usually made them uncomfortable. I'm all for that – making people uncomfortable. If I've done that, I've done my job. Mostly what I want to get across is that we have to be fair.
But back to Ms. S's piece. What is striking are the images of Martin Luther King, Al Sharpton, and black civil rights marchers (featuring a smilling Sammy Davis Jr.--rather awkward esp cause Frank was absent) juxtaposed to images of Imus and the Rutgers University women's basketball team. I thought all this stuff would be old news by now, but it is referred to again and again and again throughout the magazine, as if the readers and and Ms. S can never get enough of it. Imus is the looming symbol of racist white America, the truth lurking beneath the surface, always ready to disrespect at a moment's notice.

Ms. Samuels does an admirable job of getting lots of opinions on the issues of Imus and disrespect and how it came about, but all from black Americans, only black Americans. Is this indicative of racism or simply smart politics? Are they both entertwined?

Is it fair?

Going further, and perhaps because I am not a usual reader of Ebony, I was surprised by a few viewpoints as the discussion of "disrespect" naturally fused with the black music business and quotes by black notables on this subject, e.g., Jeff Friday, founder of the American Black Film Festival, says Black America made a mistake in allowing critics to launch an assault on a Black music form:

For me, I just think that we give White people too much power.

Apparently, Jeff thinks Whites should be muzzled at appropriate times. And then we hear from Q-Tip, a "legendary" hip-hopper who "worries that the community won't heal if the music of youth continues to be attacked." So the issue isn't the hate speech of black music artists, its the attack on black youth by Whites and White-sponsored puppets like Oprah (who is noted as being divisive). Meanwhile, NPR commentator Jimi Izrael says "pooh to the culture of disrespect and other discussions he feels are egged on by Whites." According to Jimi:

Whenever they want an explanation, we stand up straight, clean our noses and try to give them an explanation. We've trained them to do that ... they feel like it's up to them to put us in check.
Okay Jimi, uhhhh, and just below the above statements, at the base of the page, a blurb that reads:
Ragtime music reached its peak in popularity. It was celebrated for its
innovation and decried for being Negro music and too exciting.
And there are more blurbs and more blurbs. Wow. Wow. Wow. I'm still rubbing my eyes and blinking. Where's Martin Luther King when we need him?

Thanks, Ebony. Guess I'll go back to being a racist now ... Ah, and one more thing, nowhere in the disrespect article that included the above quotes is a single mention of Al Sharpton as having any responsibility for the elevation of the Imus issue or the subsequent debate that followed.

Just had to note that.


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  2. Anonymous11:31 AM

    Racism is created by those that acknowledge it. The true racists are Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. They continually throw in that RACE CARD when it is convenient to their causes. If people stopped talking about it, then it would go away. But continually talking about it will bring us back to the 60's where violence was created by these Reverends of Ill repute.

    Bruce From Florida

  3. True racist always worry about that dang "race card" being dealt them.

  4. Anonymous1:26 AM

    Racism unfortunately will always be a part of this country whether someone acknowleges it of not. Racism is based on people's beliefs and if people are biased to one anothers beliefs then rasicm will always be around expecially because of sterotypes associated with a certain race. I believe rasicm is a miscommunication between people who want to be dominant instead of understanding about peoples differences. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and a host of others walked peacefully along side of Dr. Martain Luther King Jr so African-Americans could have equality because African-Americans bleed red blood just like everyone else.

  5. Anonymous11:05 AM

    Good blog, Ebony is racist and it frustrates me off that pride in one's skin color is okay as long as you're black. Maybe I'll make a magazine called White Chocolate, with commentary on make-up that is best for white skin, and a report on how to prove your ancestors are from Europe, which will of course be decried and boycotted quickly.

  6. Anonymous7:28 AM

    You guys are idiots. I've always been a strong advocate of reading and more importantly studying history. It becomes painfully obvious when reading this drivel, that white ppl are not willfully ignorant of racial issues/history rather grossly uninformed.

    One blogger actually concludes if "we" (blk ppl) simply stop talking about it--racism will simply go away. Using that logic the civil war nor the civil rights movement were necessary. If we simply stop talking about racism blk ppl would have been free and equal. Brilliant!

    No the real logic behind not discussing racism is to put the "pitiful" white ppl at ease for having such wretched ancestry and being the "unwilling" inheritors of white privilege. rofl. (sorry i almost thought this blog was satire)

    To say Al Sharpton and Jesse are racist is a tepid attempt to silence the canary in the coal mine. Every democracy should have private citizens willing to speak against the institution and the powerholders.

    Now you brain trusts are declaring Ebony a racist mag. Wow. Has it ever occurred to you intellectual morlocks that Ebony magazine is the only forum where blk ppl can openly express their opinions. I don't see any mainstream mags asking the same questions of blk ppl. Talk about double standards.

    And yes Ebony is a black magazine formed during a time when blk ppl could not have a forum to discuss issues in mainstream media. Forged during racism, not a product of racism.

    Thanks for laughs!

  7. Dear Anonymous Insulting Ebony-loving Black Racist,

    I am so glad you posted here, and that you are defending Ebony Magazine because it perfectly demonstrates the point.

    Who is an idiot? Let's recap. White People are "grossly uninformed." That's not a racist statement, of course. And "the pitiful white people" must be put at ease for "having such wretched ancestry." Now, that's not racist, of course.

    Well, to this "white person" of "wretched ancestry" it is racist, pathologically racist in the vein of Adolf Hitler. Nothing said by you, Anonymous Black Racist, has the least credibility due to your mind having been dipped in the hateful well of black racism, so absolute and self-cleansing that you can openly make the most obvious racist statements while decrying racism, so egoistic and ignorant that anyone with "white" skin who doesn't agree with your opinion is at least ignorant and pitiful.

    This isn't a satire, it's a tragedy, but it points to why race relations in America will continually be troubled by racists in the black community who are enthralled by the commentary and slanted truth of Ebony Magazine.

    Thanks for the tears, you miserable jerk. Rejoice in your time.

    I'm off to double-check my ancestry now. It seems you know far more than I do.


  8. Anonymous2:15 PM

    @Elizabeth Brody. Acidic commentary tends to milk the truth from those normally unwilling to give it. (hence my vitriol).

    It's hysterically funny to hear you guys depict Ebony magazine as racist.(rofl!!). When its obvious that many of you posters only become aware of it either through this blog or random sightings on newstands.

    Want to know why blk ppl are obsessed with race.....??? because we live it everyday. White ppl have the social privilege of not having to think about race nor engage in it by thought, activity, nor establish any values around it and suffer ZERO impact on their daily lives. And yet race still works to a white person's benefit.

    It's also retarded (yes i'm being abusive again because it warrants it) to say that somehow its only okay for blk ppl to have racial pride, and have media devoted to it. How about People Magazine, NBC, the NY times. Seriously every major media outlet pours out more positive images of white ppl. If one were not from the US and read USA today, the NY times, or the Wall street journal, you wouldnt think the US had ppl of color. These media outlets all reinforce "whiteness". Just because the title isn't White Chocolate doesnt make it any less potent in socially reinforcing whiteness.

    and elizabeth---you calling me racist doesn't offend me. "racist" as an epithet has been reserved exclusively for white ppl (lol). since you guys tend to take such umbrage at being called one (true or not).

    you guys are dying to call blk ppl out as racists, as if the existence of blk racists somehow perpetuates the inequality in our society. white racism only matters because white ppl control the system. racism w/out power is empty.

    guys get off your high horse. and again i would try my best to educate you bumpkins, but i'll leave it to your own kind to do that. maybe you will take it better. (see link below)

    (Tim Wise:

  9. Dear Black Racist Who Works for Ebony Magazine,

    Yes, there is a good chance you are employed by Ebony. Why? Because you refuse to address the specific black racist viewpoints and statements made by contributors to that magazine.

    Some highlights of your most recent hate speech that pathetically attempts a tone of light humor:

    "racist" as an epithet has been reserved exclusively for white people ..."

    "I would try my best to educate you bumpkins ..."

    "These [white] media outlets all reinforce "whiteness".

    "white racism only matters because white people control the system"

    I love the last one, black racist person, since it conveniently gives you the moral license you need to not only practice your own ugly racism, and thereby bond daily with your peers, but to wallow indignantly in whatever failure you have made of yourself.

    After all, since whites "control the system" (whatever that really means) then whites can be scapegoated for your inability to succeed. No? Yes?

    Go back to school, get an education, start your own business, do what you want. Then once you have become black entrepeneur of the year, you can sit back with your martini and find even more reasons why you are constantly being discriminated against. Why? Because it's your religion my friend. You are a slave to it, not to white people.

    Open your eyes, learn that all racism is bad because it simply continues the circle of hate and misunderstanding.

    Peace and Love


  10. Anonymous8:58 AM

    @elizabeth brody. "wallow indignantly in whatever failure you have made of yourself." why would you assume that i have neither academic nor professional success. what in my tone, manner, speech, or vocabulary would indicate that i'm a failure. hmmm.

    "Go back to school, get an education, start your own business"...too late i already have. I have a BS in Info systems from one of the top schools in the country, work for a Fortune 100 company, and have my own web design business. Who the hell is blaming white ppl?!??! roflmao!!!

    "bond daily with your peers", why would you assume that my peers bond over "racist" rhetoric?

    Your comments alone indicate your own prejudice of me as a blk individual, without having even the slightest hint of knowledge about me you have already defined my educational attainment and professional success. Just because i criticize white ppl is not because i hate them nor because i feel grossly inhibited by white ppl.Its because it needs to be said.

    And too be honest i've never actually been a big reader of Ebony magazine. But i know your "Black Racist Who Works for Ebony Magazine" is a silly attempt at jest.

    "Why? Because it's your religion my friend"--haha. Racism being bad versus racism have ill effects are two different things. I could actually hate your guys live next door to you, work with you, etc. Would my simply hating you have an ill effect on your way of life? Of course not. Now when ppl who have power collectively hate, thats a different scenario.

    Whether racism is bad or not becomes a moot point taken into this context. And my initial point was --to label Ebony magazine without having any previous knowledge about the history and nature of the magazine is misguided. Trust me on this-- Ebony magazine is far from racist.

    If you are looking for examples of blk racist then you are far off target if Ebony magazine is your culprit. Trust me i could find more explicit examples of Blk media that are explicitly racist.

    But again, my point is that all of this finger-pointing is sheer nonsense. I've noticed that for some closet white racists, finger-pointing of "blk racists" has become a sport. Partially because it attempts to deflect any criticism of white racism, which is far more entrenched, vicious, and enduring.

    In all seriousness, check out Tim Wise if you are serious about why there are misunderstandings between the races.

    If not, I'll just continue to bash you with comic induced diatribes.


  11. Dear Black Racist Trying to Be a Comic,

    Just a few notes and comments below.

    Finally, after bashing all white people as bumpkins, racists, idiots, pitiful with wretched ancestry (LOL!!!), and so forth, and after making your self-serving case that your racism is justified, you reveal the following:

    "I have a BS in Info systems from one of the top schools in the country, work for a Fortune 100 company, and have my own web design business. Who the hell is blaming white ppl?!??!"

    Ho, ho, black racist jerk! I finally got you to reveal some pertinent info about yourself. And I was right! You are just the stereotypical black racist I thought you were. The worst black racists seem to be those who meet with the most success in this white power society. Casual, armchair, educated black racists. Ah, so, you are not the victim of racism after all, and I assume that a couple of bumpkin white racists assisted you in your climb to the top?

    Oh, but I'm sure you'll come up with some slight or other to prove you are or were a victim of the bad old white people!

    "bond daily with your peers", why would you assume that my peers bond over "racist" rhetoric?"

    Because racists hang with racists. Who else could put up with the racist crap that flows like a Brooklyn sewer out of your mouth?

    "Your comments alone indicate your own prejudice of me as a blk individual, without having even the slightest hint of knowledge about me you have already defined my educational attainment and professional success."

    Part of that was a ploy to get you to come clean, but "prejudice" had nothing to do with it. It's all related to the way you talk and the racist views you have of the world. The fact you assume me prejudiced is a statement about your own black racism.

    Don't you just hate having to justify yourself to this white bumpkin of wretched ancestry, eh black racist?

    "Just because i criticize white ppl is not because i hate them nor because i feel grossly inhibited by white ppl.Its because it needs to be said."

    Now, you are being totally dishonest, not only with our readers, but with yourself. If you didn't hate white people, you would not have made such abhorrent comments about them. But your hate is really hatred of yourself. You need to be happy with who you are. Revel in your blackness and don't try to be white.

    "Now when ppl who have power collectively hate, thats a different scenario."

    No, my black racist friend, people create power when they collectively hate. It has a ripple effect on all they say and do, and it makes others hate them. That is incredible power.

    I assume that the white people didn't hate you enough or you wouldn't have your great career, eh?

    God, you are so pathetic!


  12. Ebony is not racist it is just a magazine. Take a look at other magazines which cater to caucasians and you see exactly the same things, this is just assimilation at another level. Stop talking about it and start recovering from a life of dysfunctional family behavior.