Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 15 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/12/20

Corporate Media Are Focusing on Race -- and Dodging Class

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
Author 38935
Message Norman Solomon
Become a Fan
  (25 fans)

From Smirking Chimp

Over 40 million people in the United States -- poor and people of color -- live below the poverty line.
Over 40 million people in the United States -- poor and people of color -- live below the poverty line.
(Image by YouTube, Channel: DW Documentary)
  Details   DMCA

Grassroots outrage and nationwide protests after Minneapolis cops murdered George Floyd have pushed much of U.S. corporate media into focusing on deadly police mistreatment of black people. The coverage is far from comprehensive on the subject of racism in the "criminal justice" system -- we're still hearing very little about the routine violations of basic rights in courtrooms and behind bars -- yet there's no doubt that a breakthrough has occurred. The last two weeks have opened up a lot more media space for illuminating racial cruelty.

But what about economic cruelty?

Media outlets routinely detour around reasons why African Americans and other people of color are so disproportionately poor -- and, as a result of poverty, are dying much younger than white people. The media ruts bypass confronting how the wealthy gain more wealth and large corporations reap more profits at the expense of poor and middle-income people.

The statistics are grim. For every black person killed by police, vastly more are dying because of such conditions as a threadbare safety net, a lack of adequate employment, and scant access to health care or social services.

Readily available numbers are indictments of systemic racism. At the same time, numbers tell us virtually nothing about the human essence of widespread, tragic and fully preventable suffering that, in the words of Marvin Gaye's brilliant song "Inner City Blues," make me wanna holler.

News media habitually tiptoe around deadly realities of economic oppression that are hidden in plain sight -- so normalized that they're apt to seem perversely natural. Meanwhile, government is routinely portrayed as inherently hamstrung, lacking in funds and unable to cope. But from city halls and state legislatures to corridors of power in Washington, the priorities that hold sway are largely imposed by leverage from big corporations and the wealthy who want their financial interests protected.

"When we say #DefundPolice," Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib tweeted days ago, "what we mean is people are dying and we need to invest in people's livelihoods instead. Example: Detroit spent $294 million on police last year, and $9 million on health. This is systemic oppression in numbers."

The official city bar chart that accompanied Tlaib's tweet amounts to a smoking gun of a ceaseless class war raging across the United States and far beyond. Huge numbers of people whose names we'll never know are casualties of that profit-driven war.

From slavery onwards, vicious economic exploitation has been central to the oppression of African Americans. In spite of that reality -- and because of it -- the prevailing power structure and its dominant media arms are eager to separate racial justice from economic justice.

Yet the separation is absurd and disingenuous. "A close examination of wealth in the U.S. finds evidence of staggering racial disparities," the Brookings Institution reported this year. The latest figures show that "the net worth of a typical white family is nearly 10 times greater than that of a black family." Those wealth gaps "reveal the effects of accumulated inequality and discrimination, as well as differences in power and opportunity that can be traced back to this nation's inception."

It's symbolic that while we've often heard that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the historic march on Washington in 1963, the fact that it was called the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" isn't often mentioned. Five years later, King was murdered while in Memphis to support a union struggle by exploited sanitation workers as he was immersed in planning the next stages of the Poor People's Campaign.

Today, the humongous gaps between wealth and poverty -- and the lethal consequences of those gaps -- are rarely in mass-media focus. Empathy for low-income people might be fine in media-land, but they're commonly portrayed as victims of bad luck or personal failings rather than the prey of victimizers who profit from immiseration.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Well Said 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Norman Solomon Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is currently a coordinator of the relaunched Bernie Delegates Network. (more...)

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Growing Campaign to Revoke Obama's Nobel Peace Prize

Clinton's Transition Team: A Corporate Presidency Foretold

Is MSNBC Now the Most Dangerous Warmonger Network?

Obama's Escalating War on Freedom of the Press

The Long Road to Impeaching Trump Just Got Shorter

Obama's Speech, Translated into Candor

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: