Earlier this month, Don Lemon hosted a discussion on CNN posing the question “are today’s black radio personalities black america’s new civil rights leaders?” He went on to explore with his guests, April Ryan, Bev Smith and Warren Ballentine, whether or not they spoke for or represented the voice of the “people”….black people. While no one actually claimed the titled of civil rights leader they did agree that it is through their broadcast that the issues most pertinent to black people get discussed, exposed and dealt with.
It’s certainly true that black radio personalities very often cover topics not necessarily addressed in the mainstream media. Its also very true that back in the day, black radio was a powerful force during the civil rights movement to mobilize the black community around common goals. Even still, I couldn’t help but scratch my head at the mere allusion to black radio personalities being the “voice” of all black people and the next generation of civil rights leaders. This would mean that some how Tom Joyner, Michael Baisden, Brian McKnight, Steve Harvey, MoNique and Roland Martin all speak for me? Rarely, if ever, is there an assumption that white radio personalities speak on behalf of all white people. Is it me or hasn’t our diversity of thought and experience as black people, outgrown the ability for a chosen few with a mic to be able to speak on behalf of all black people? Moreover, do we as “minorities” undermine our impact and reduce our reach when we allow our radio personalities, television personalities, etc. to speak as if there is only one “black view point?”
Vyne readers, tell us what you think: Do black radio/media personalities speak for you?