They're Still Saying We Are Black. STILL.
"Why not consider this [coup2k report] part of our political coverage? Because this does come down to race, and history, and experience."
-- Nightline on their March 27 coup2k report
Remember when I became black?
When I was welcomed into the black race?
When ya'll realized you were black, too?
And then more of you did?
When all us newly black folk got mad about the changing definition of blackness?
Well, It's been almost three months, and the media, now in the form of Nightline, are still saying we are black. It's a wonderful compliment, but still...
NIGHTLINE E-NEWSLETTER, MARCH 27, 2001:
TONIGHT'S SUBJECT: There probably aren't two more volatile issues... politics, particularly this last election... and race. We look at what happened in Duvall County in Florida when the African-American community turned out to vote like never before.------------------
It's been a steady drumbeat.
Every day we get a number of e-mails -- and the number really hasn't changed much in the last five months -- that are still filled with anger over the last election. Even the vocabulary has become a weapon. Bush is referred to as "the president," not "my" or "our" president. That is, when stronger terms aren't used.
A number of times in our e-mail, I've referred to polls that seemed to indicate that a large percentage of Americans had moved on, only to be flooded with e-mails from people who say just the opposite. Throw in the issue of race, and the mix is even more volatile. There is still tremendous anger in the African-American community. Complaints began on Election Day: polling places moved, police roadblocks, outdated equipment... racism.
The Civil Rights Commission has held hearings down in Florida, and person after person has laid out their experiences and the problems they faced. But in trying to figure out exactly what did happen down in Florida, we face a real practical problem. Do anecdotes count as evidence? I have no doubt that these people experienced what they say they did. And a huge percentage of ballots in some African-American communities were disqualified. But the same is true in some white communities. Does all of that constitute evidence of a conspiracy? Or racism? Or both?
We have a saying here, that "perception is reality." Actually, I think that's a pretty widespread quote. But in evaluating what is and is not a story, we often face a situation where people act on those perceptions as being real, regardless of what the facts may or may not be. Anger in a community is very real, whether the facts back up that anger or not. And when the facts themselves are in question, you have the recipe for a mess. And that's the mess we sent "Nightline" correspondent John Donvan into.
He and a "Nightline" team went to Jacksonville to see what the facts, and the perceptions are. But there are no easy answers, and there's very little agreement on much of anything. We'll have John's report tonight as part of our ongoing series on race, "America in Black and White." And there's a very real reason for broadcasting this report under that banner. Why not consider this part of our political coverage? Because this does come down to race, and history, and experience. Will we answer all of the questions about what happened down in Florida? No. But there are larger, and more difficult issues to confront, and that's what we're going to try to do tonight.
If you have questions or comments regarding this message or a recent "Nightline" broadcast, please do not hit reply; simply click on this link to send your message directly to the "Nightline" staff:
Wednesday, March 28, 2001
Leroy Sievers ACTION ALERT: NIGHTLINE COUP2K SPIN
Let Them Know You Are Black, Too!
1717 de Salles Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20026.
Phone (202) 222-7777
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