Luther Campbell, the man whose
booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free
speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This
week, Luke wonders why there aren't more African-American voices in
Miami's journalism scene?
When I scan the pages of the Miami
Herald or watch WPLG 10's This Week in South
Florida on Sundays, I can't help but notice the lack of
outspoken, opinionated African-American columnists and commentators.
Miami's biggest media have a shameful
record of not affording journalists of color an opportunity to
blossom into columnists and opinion show hosts.
The Herald has 26 columnists on its roster, yet only three of them are African-American. Blogger Joy Ann Reid gets a guest column to write mostly about national politics. David J. Neal strictly covers sports. Then you have Leonard Pitts, the only African-American at the Herald to blossom into a national star. But Pitt's isn't from Miami, lives in Maryland and rarely touches on local issues.
In the television news business, you've only got one African-American holding the top anchor spot, Calvin Hughes of WPLG. But he is an out-of-town cornball who just reads whatever is on the teleprompter. He's no Dwight Lauderdale. Meanwhile, the two Sunday shows that focus on local politics and civic issues have long been anchored by a Cuban-American (Elliott Rodriguez, host of News & Views on CBS4) and a rich white guy (Michael Putney, host of This Week).
You only get their perspective, which is often negative toward the African American community. For example, last month on his program and in a Herald guest column, Putney blasted Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones for supporting $430,000 in federal grants to four businesses in Liberty City to fix up their facades, a routine boost Uncle Sam gives every year to dozens of small businesses in depressed neighborhoods throughout Miami-Dade.
Putney called the move "putting lipstick on a pig," and claimed if he was in charge, he'd use the money to provide training for jobs at the casino resort proposed by Genting, the Malaysian gambling giant that bought the Miami Herald property. In his mind, giving tax money to African-American small business owners was wrong, but awarding those same funds to a multi-billion dollar foreign conglomerate that doesn't need any government support would be A-OK. Sadly, most Hispanic and Anglo readers and viewers probably agree with Putney.
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Miami's lack of African-American columnists and opinion-makers is a big reason I think some Anglo and Hispanic folks don't understand where I am coming from. I'm writing from the perspective of the average African-American in Miami. When I walk into Mamma Lucy's on NW 119 Street for lunch, I get nothing but praise for telling it like it is. But that doesn't mean I am playing the race card. It just means there are not enough African-Americans in Miami who get the opportunity to speak their minds like I do.
Follow Luke on Twitter @unclelukereal1.