Thursday, May 11, 2006

An Open Letter to Bruce Dixon ( Editor)

[I actually thought about sending it directly to the BC editors....but it more than likely would be futile, since the issue is already out; so I'll just post it here. Consider it my therapy of venting.]

Mr. Dixon:

First off, I want to thank you and your co-publisher Glen Ford for the outstanding job that you do over at BC in representing progressive Black voices.

Having said that, I have but one small complaint that I have to get off my chest.

On Saturday, I forwarded to you a long post in response to an article by Michele Martin which criticized your site for alleged "uncivility" (through posting another article by Ishmael Reed in which he criticized some Black journalists (including Ms. Martin) for being such foils for the establishment media. The next day, I received an email from Mr. Ford complimenting me on my essay and stating that he would forward it to you for review and possible inclusion in your next issue.

Now, I understand perfectly and accept the fact that you recieve hundreds of emails for feedback for inclusion in your online website, and that due to time and financial constraints, you have to pick and choose which subject matter and emails to feature in your viewers' response section (Bruce's Beat). And I do appreciate the fact that you did give me the opportunity to post my thoughts.

Nevertheless, all that does nothing to erase the shock and disappointment I felt when I discovered today that my post was indeed cited in today's (May 11, Issue #183) issue...but was severely truncated to TWO paragraphs....which did little to nothing to express the ideas that my original post was intended to do from the beginning.

I will skip the minor, piddling issue of not including my domicile of residency (but, really, Mr. Dixon, I did manage to include my residency in Lafayette, Louisiana in my signature line; was it that neccessary to truncate that??) and go straight to the heart of the matter. (Since you already have the original post, and I have already posted it to my own SmackDog Chronicles blog here, I will not repost it in its entirity, but will reference parts of it from time to time.)

First, here's a reprint of what ended up in today's BC issue:

Louisiana's Anthony Kennerson had these observations on Martin's plea for civility:

It’s interesting to see Ms. Martin calling out Ishmael Reed, CounterPunch and BC for their alleged lack of civility. Ms. Martin seems to feel a need to throw accusations at blacks on the left while leaving those on the right alone.

Ms. Martin could not possibly have been unaware of the volume and virulence of vile and racist epithets slung in the direction of Georgia's Representative Cynthia McKinney. Nothing that Ishmael Reed wrote on that article could even begin to approximate Neal Boortz's “ghetto slut" smack – and that was among the more printable insults.

Where was our black guardian of “civility” then? Why didn’t we hear her voice telling how establishment media programs were selling a line about McKinney being nutty, almost slutty, dangerous and ultra-radical Black Leftist?

It seems that the definition of civility always depends on who does the defining and why. Ruling the term “Uncle Tom” out of our lexicon as “uncivil” as Martin seems to want to do, besides being in line with current right wing complaints about the dialog African Americans have with each other, is just plain wrong. Banning that highly useful term is a way of shutting down discussion and analysis, a way to deprive us of a potent, historically and politically loaded term to describe a kind of dangerous and politically loaded behavior.

OK...the last line is actually you responding in general, and I certainly agree with the sentiments.

First paragraph I have no problem with whatsoever, since it is a direct quote from my post therein:

For someone who feels the need to throw accusations at individuals on the Left (and in her email that was published in BC, she specifically aimed her guns at Reed for his presumed assumptions "that black officials (presumably of the left since I’ve see no similar protectiveness of those on the right) are somehow beyond questioning (or chastising for that matter"), Ms. Martin seems to miss the basic point of Reed's article: that the establishment media (whether liberal or conservative) is not afraid of using Black people as a ruse to sell a political agenda that is decisively harmful to the majority of Black people. [...]

The second and third paragraphs, however, is where it gets a bit squiggly. Here's what I wrote in the original:

Perhaps the real issue that Ms. Martin has with Reed and BC is that she was
called out directly by him for her not-so-fawning coverage of the saga of
Representative Cynthia McKinney (GA - 4th Dist.), who has the unmitigated
gall to actually represent her poor and working class constituents in her
Atlanta district as a principled progressive, and who is one of the few
representatives who dares to challenge the frontal assault of the Right and
Center on average Black people directly....and who also had the unmitigated
hubris to defend herself against an overzealous security guard who just
couldn't keep his hands off her while going to work. (And I won't even go
into McKinney's hair style choices at that time, since I'm sure that even Ms.
Martin are aware of the vile racist epithets that were slung at
Congresswoman McKinney by right-wingers at that time. Nothing that Ishmael
Reed wrote on that article could even begin to approximate Neal Boortz's
"ghetto slut" smack..and those was the more printable insults.) I'm not
saying that McKinney is above accountability; but the perspective of having
a publically active progressive Black woman put down due to her choice in
hair style (not to mention her political positions) might have more than a
bit to do with why she is supported so firmly amongst average Black folk...and it is more than proper to point out how establishment media programs were selling the dominant party line of McKinney being nutty, almost slutty, and a dangerous
ultra-radical Black Leftist that should be shunned by any moderate-thinking
Black politician.

Now, I understand and appreciate an editor's need to condense quotes and preserve bandwidth and brevity....but really, Mr. Dixon....was there such a need to basically shred my quoted text and import your own quotes as a substitute??? I mean, it could have been easier to just use ellipses and reduce my quotation down to a managable size which would fit into your limited space...but to totally revise my printed words?? Not that I'm comparing my prose to a Ph. D. or a Master's thesis, but can you imagine the reaction if a prospective doctorate candidate saw his words in his thesis altered so severely without his knowing??

And what really bothers me about this is that while you felt the need to reduce and alter my text, another reader, Janet Brown of Oakland, California, was allowed a full seven paragraphs to elaborate her position (not that different from mine), and with most of her text apparantly kept intact. there a hierarchy of whose posts get better recognition over at BC??? Is it based on who donates more?? Quality of the post?? (Funny, Mr. Ford seemed to think that my comment was decent enough, and it's not that I haven't posted comments there before.)

Now, if this sounds like narcissistic whining, I sincerely apologize; because on the whole, I still appreciate what BC has done, and I will continue to contribute as a paying subscriber and sometime commentor on the issues. But all I ask of you, Mr. Dixon is this: if you are going to edit posts from commentors, please, for God and Goddess' sake, at least have the mercy of telling them in advance that you reserve the right to edit their comments for brevity's sake. It would certainly save some of us a lot of surprise and disappointment .

Other than that minor excellent job overall as always.

Thanks for hearing me out...and keep bringing it.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony J. Kennerson
Lafayette, Louisiana


Sorry for that brief venting, y'all....we now return you to our regularly scheduled smackfest, already in progress.... :-)

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