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Letter to the Editor: Accentuating the Positive

Dr. Mildred Henry

Dr. Mildred Henry

Lyrics of a once popular song said that “we should accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative”.  Many of our  youth are engaged in great humanitarian  endeavors, however, their good works are too often overshadowed in the news media by negative, sensationalized acts of barbarism.

The elementary school scholars at Henry Elementary School in San Bernardino are engaged in a Global Studies program. Recently, 4th and 5th graders  researched Global indigenous tribes around the world.  They studied tribes such as The Awa in Brasil, The Matses in Brasil, The Wichi in Argentina, The Bushmen in Botswana, The Ogiek in Kenya, The Aboriginal people of Australia, The Batak in the Philippines, The Dongria Kondh of India, and the Siberian Tribes of Russia, among others.

Each scholar presented a major power point film documentary of their research, complete with credits at the end of the film.  The young scholars filmed, narrated, and operated all of their equipment.  I was absolutely amazed!  During the research, scholars found that many native people were in danger of having their lands destroyed.  The scholars found a website on international tribal survival, and planned a “Tea for Tribes” to raise funds for tribes that are endangered due to deforestation and loss of resources. Donations were forwarded to help these less fortunate tribes around the globe.

Our youth were giving instead of taking, providing food instead of drugs, making friends and collaborating instead of  fighting.  The young scholars were smiling and excited rather than sullen and bullying.   Their skills and researched knowledge was absolutely “off the charts”!  They deserve Kudos for the great humanitarian activities in which they are engaged.

Congratulations to the young Henry Elementary School scholars for their sensitivity, to their superlative principal, Dr. Marcus Funchess, and to the great Henry staff, for truly Accentuating the Positive.   They truly live up to their artistic expression,  “We are smart, We are Intelligent, We are full of greatness!”

   Come on Adults, the children are leading the way.  Let’s get on board, reach out and touch, and make this world a better place!  We can!

                             -Mildred Dalton Henry, Ph.D.

Joanna Ballesteros “Holiday Essay Contest”

The 1st place winner of The PAL Center 4th Annual Christmas Tree Essay Giveaway Contest, Joanna Ballesteros along with CEO, Dwaine Radden. Previously, before the picture was taken and winners were announced, Dwaine Radden gave an amazing speech with the closing statement, “We are very proud of you all. All essays were very wonderful and I just want to encourage each one of you to keep up the good work. I’m very grateful to have a group of students like this who seems to know so much about the true meaning of Christmas. We at The PAL Center love each and every one of you.”

The 1st place winner of The PAL Center 4th Annual Christmas Tree Essay Giveaway Contest, Joanna Ballesteros along with CEO, Dwaine Radden. Previously, before the picture was taken and winners were announced, Dwaine Radden gave an amazing speech with the closing statement, “We are very proud of you all. All essays were very wonderful and I just want to encourage each one of you to keep up the good work. I’m very grateful to have a group of students like this who seems to know so much about the true meaning of Christmas. We at The PAL Center love each and every one of you.”

Christmas isn’t just about presents or just a day to celebrate, but spending time with family and friends. Having laughs and memories; I love spending time with my family especially my nieces and nephews. Also the smell of Christmas, the pine cones, food and coldness.

Most importantly it gives us the opportunity to cherish relatives. When it’s Christmas it reminds me of my mother, stressing while keeping a smile on her face, her warm hugs and sweet laughter. Now when it’s this time of year I wrap myself and keep warm with my nieces and nephews.

Even if there’s nothing to give it’s being thankful for what you have. Not only is it just a present opening day it’s also an eye opening day. The day the Lord, Jesus Christ birth is celebrated. Even though you do get presents still thank the people who got you something.

Through The Media Lens: Covering Race and Police Brutality

Bob Butler

Bob Butler

By Bob Butler 

The second half of 2014 has been marked by the shooting deaths of four African-American males by local law enforcement — Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York, John Crawford and Tamir Rice in Ohio — that have attracted the attention of national media and the federal government, and shined a light on the issue of policing in minority communities.

It has also been marked by some exceptional journalism on the subject, as well as some alarming narratives from journalistic choices that, while not necessarily intentional, serve to perpetuate stereotypes of Black men as dangerous criminals.

Race is present in the dynamics around these stories and those who are involved in producing these stories. Put another way: while a diverse group of journalists has been on the ground reporting this story, the same cannot be said about who makes decisions about what will be covered and how.

Some of the coverage goes into great detail about how the victims’ actions may have contributed to their own demise: John Crawford should not have tried to buy a toy rifle at Walmart, Mike Brown should not have (allegedly) stolen cigars from a convenience store, Eric Garner should not have (allegedly) been selling loose cigarettes and Tamir Rice should not have been playing with a toy gun.

These cases are not the first, nor will they be the last, involving Black males and the police. It must be pointed out that Black males are not the only ones being shot. Dillon Taylor in Utah and Gil Collar in Alabama were White and also unarmed when police shot them. The difference is the media coverage of their cases does not imply that they deserved to die.

From the breaking news coverage of these events to the analysis that followed, and will hopefully continue, it is important to recognize the negative patterns that can emerge in such stories, and to discuss strategies for countering these patterns.

Two questions can help guide this process: Is this information relevant? And how will this affect the story?

A big part of how narrative is shaped in these stories starts with the photos of those involved. While availability of photos can be a challenge, especially in the early stages of a fast-moving story, efforts must be made to paint the fullest picture (pun intended) of the central figures. Images depicting black men solely as menacing, threatening or dangerous only fuel existing stereotypes.

Weighing whether to include details about a black victim’s criminal background or drug use also contributes to the narrative. Here, balance is important. Is there an attempt to report the officer’s history? Does the officer have a disciplinary history or a record of complaints regarding use of force? Is the victim’s background relevant to the specific incident that ended his life? If so, explain this to readers, lest it be interpreted as gratuitous or malicious.

In the case of Tamir Rice, why did the Northwest Ohio Media Group report on his parents’ criminal records? What did that have to do with Rice being shot by police?

Stories like Ferguson and the deaths of Crawford, Garner and Rice reaffirm the urgency of more diverse American newsrooms. Look no further than the membership of the National Association of Black Journalists to find many examples of responsible reporting.

NABJ was founded in 1975 in part, “to monitor and sensitize all media to racism.” Nearly 40 years later, NABJ still finds it necessarily to fulfill this role. It is our hope that those committed to a better approach to exploring issues of race and society will join us in examining how we can all improve.


Bob Butler is the President of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). NABJ is the largest organization for journalists of color in the nation, and provides career development as well as educational and other support to its members worldwide. For additional information, please visit, http://www.nabj.org