The reading as well as the screening of Black Journal caught my attention because of the progressiveness of the show. I’d like to continue the conversation that we had in class around the thought of today’s Black Journal. I believe that we as a society won’t see another show like Black Journal because the show is a result of the time period both in that there was still lingering segregation within the United States and, as the reading focuses on, a lack of African American people in the media. These contributed to the success of Black Journal but what also contributed was the current development of technology at the time.These things resulted in the strength of Black identity within the United States and the strong support that African Americans had for the few African Americans represented in the media. the strength of cultural identity was at a high as the community tried to create a culture that included their African roots as well as their current position within the United States.
A line that a really like within Tommy Lee Lott’s “Documenting Social Issues” is when Lott recognizes William Greaves’ mindset going into the creation of Black Journal. “A strong criterion for selecting a topic to be covered on the program was whether it was an issue that would be routinely discussed in a barbershop” (75). I find it really interesting to see that the creators decided to focus the show on modern African American culture of the time. I think that Barbershops could be compared to the town hall within the community at the time and well into present day. not only this but the part of the show that promoted new African American clothing that included African cultural clothes like the dashiki pushed the African American population to become more in touch with the African roots that they were removed from through the slave trade. Lott also includes more note worthy cultural aspects that the show instituted into their regular programming which included “the theme music used African conga drums, the two co-hosts often wore dashikis and one co-host, Lou Potter, opened and closed each program with salutations in Swahili” (76). These aspects of the show along with the show itself consolidated a National African American identity that was based in cultural African roots as well as contemporary African American culture and an understanding of current issues and resistance groups that arose in the 1960’s. While the show was short-lived it emphasized strength in community and helped to spread a strong identity that connected the African American people.
I also believe that this strong affinity was only possible because of the lack of African American programming at the time. With Television being the most prominent source of media and Black Journal being the only African American oriented programming in a slowly desegregating nation it was easy to create a national identity while in the present day its much more difficult. Because of the large number of media outlets and the desegregation of the United States, communities in general have lost support due to the increasing number of self identifications and communities that are more accepting of people. this is not to say that the African American community has lost support by African American people but it is saying that culture has expanded and the direction of groups change as time progresses. Within the information age people are able to identify with many different groups from across the world rather than being limited by the dominant group to identify with one specific community in order to survive and resist an oppressive society. African American people today as well as many other groups are able to identify with groups based on interest and ability rather than just race, although this may be an acceptable reason to identify with a group. This is also not saying that our current society isn’t oppressive but its saying that because of the increase in accessible groups, one significant news outlet will most likely not arise as a singular view point that a national group can identify with because everyone personalizes their media outlets to fit their identity rather than the other way around.
However, maybe my argument has holes in it or maybe you don’t agree with what I said. Please reply and further the conversation. Maybe you have a news source that you’d like to share or know of a group as radical and well known as Black Journal was at it’s time. Please let me know!!