ONN – Oaklandside’s Attack On Derreck Johnson In The Oakland City Council Race Was Racist
The Oaklandside, a new online publication by the person who owns Berkeleyside and that has a $3 million grant from Google, owes Derreck Johnson, a candidate in the Oakland City Council race for the At-Large Seat occupied by Rebecca Kaplan (who I endorsed), an apology (and just maybe a chunk of that 3 million). It’s recent post attacking him for filing bankruptcy was nothing short of racist in my view as an Oakland black media entrepreneur in the time of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
UPDATE: As I wrote here, this must be reported:
In this case, some who are white, just could not accept that my actions were out of anger for the racist Oaklandside post, and first assumed that I was backing Derreck Johnson, when I openly said I was supporting Rebecca Kaplan, and then, on their own, guessed that Derreck, Mayor Schaaf, and I all went to Skyline High School together.
When a friend of mine who’s white texted me with that question about Skyline High School (where I am Class of 80 and Libby is Class of 1981), I called and let him know how upset with him I was. I said “You can’t accept the fact that my concern for what was written about him was purely because I perceived it as racist, huh? Do you realize that’s racist?”
As my friend is prone to do, he laughs nervously and tries to change the subject, but this time I kept focus. The problem was the Oaklandside post was truly institutionally racist, and it doesn’t matter what a person thinks to the contrary, even if they’re black. In Oakland, too many of us black folks are too willing to put down someone else black anyway – it’s a crabbarrel problem of massive proportions that helps no one.
The fact is that, according to Derreck himself, he went to Bishop O’Dowd High School, not Skyline High School. And so that leads back to my point: the desire to not see a racist act and deflect eyes from view keeps it as justifiable. That’s what my friend was trying to do, and he needs to stop doing it. As I said to him “We can’t allow a point of view like yours to fester because, little by little, these racist stories build up, until we get George Floyd all over again.”
No more racial profiling in media. If Derreck’s run has done anything, it’s shown a spotlight on that problem. It has to stop.
And, as a momentary aside, I’m proud to report that Zennie62Media’s OaklandNewsNow.com that you’re reading is twice the size of Oaklandside in online traffic, and with a fraction of it’s budget. And it’s black owned and operated, whereas Oaklandside has a black editor, but is white owned, and the person who wrote the post is white and male.
Anyway, Oaklandside accused Derreck Johnson of being so proud as a black man to run television commercials saying he’s “successful”, that he needed to be taken down a notch by getting out “the truth”. The truth as Oaklandside saw it. The truth as Oaklandside was presented with by a source. I say that because I know where the information came from, and who gave it to Oaklandside, regardless of what it claims. Moreover, it’s no secret: bankruptcy information is publicly available, folks.
What Oaklandside did was simply make phone calls around town to form a story around the information it was given. If Oaklandside were truly interested in “the truth” it would have produced an article with information about the businesses of all of the candidates, without sensationalism. If Oaklandside was were truly interested in “the truth”, it would have worked with Mr. Johnson to run a positive story about what problems he experienced as a black man keeping his business going.
The story Oaklandside’s racist lens caused it to miss was one that needs to be told at a time when everyone from Facebook to Google has some kind of initiative focused on financing black businesses, in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Think about it. As Marcus Burke put in for The World Economic Forum “Following the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many other Black people at the hands of police, companies have started to take a stand against systemic racism.” Obviously, Oaklandside showed itself to be completely tone-deaf to the times.
Oaklandside’s Attack On Derreck Johnson Reflects A Classic Pattern Of Media Racism
In the paper “Media Representations and Impact on the Lives of Black Men and Boys”, by the Topos Partnership with The Opportunity Agenda, the authors observe:
A robust body of research documents how the overall presentation of black males in the media is distorted in a variety of ways, relative to the real-world facts. While individual studies tend to focus on a single genre or medium — such as TV fiction shows, magazine advertising, or video games — the research taken as a whole reveals broad patterns, including:
Negative associations exaggerated — particularly criminality, unemployment, and poverty. The idle black male on the street corner is not the “true face” of poverty in America, but he is the dominant one in the world as depicted by media.
Positive associations limited — particularly, sports, physical achievement in general, virility, and musicality. While the media’s version of America is populated by some black males intended to inspire, they tend to represent a relatively limited range of qualities to the exclusion of a variety of other everyday virtues.
The “problem” frame — Due to both distortions and also accurate and sympathetic discussion, black males tend to be overly associated with intractable problems.
Missing stories — Many important dimensions of black males’ lives, such as historical antecedents of black economic disadvantage and persistence of anti-black male bias, are largely ignored by the media.
In Derreck Johnson’s case, Oaklandside missed a great chance to have him tell his story of what led to the problems he experienced with his business. Moreover, Oaklandside worked to, as the authors wrote about media bias against black men, “Negative associations exaggerated — particularly criminality, unemployment, and poverty.” In other words, the Oaklandside’s seems to be upset that Johnson didn’t say he had been in financial trouble. Note, Johnson didn’t break any law, so that was the best it could do in attacking Derreck Johnson.
The Times Are Changing – The LA Times
In these times, America is beginning to wake up to the media racism that has worked to constantly paint blacks in a negative light. The kind of media racism that has been active in Oakland and San Francisco Bay Area media for far too long. And, let’s face it, the kind of media racism that was served up to feed the desires of some in Oakland who are white for the most part, and just don’t want to believe anything positive about anyone black who dares say they’re successful, or holds a title. Those persons want to push blacks into the familiar image of being poor, downtrodden, and criminally inclined. The kind of media The Oaklandside produced makes them oh so happy. Sad stuff that must stop.
In that, I must say it’s great The Los Angeles Times called out its own history of racism.
But, even then, The Los Angeles Times leaves out the racist lens that’s still applied today, and one that Oaklandside uses. Moreover, one would think that other mainstream media news publications would follow the Los Angeles Times’ lead, (like The San Francisco Chronicle, which has its own problems with racism as one can see here, and here, too.) but to this date, crickets. For many who are white, racism only exists when the n-word is used or a black person is physically harmed. But real racism is evident in all aspects of life, and in many ways, and in media, it’s expressed in how blacks are portrayed.
As I saw it, here’s the truth: Derreck Johnson did establish and run a business in Oakland that employed people, most notably black ex-prisoners who needed help. Stop it right there: that’s the success story that should be told, and that Derreck has the right to crow about. It’s clearly a story Oaklandside didn’t even think to try to tell, even though it was starring them in right in the face. Oaklandside was way too focused on putting a cyber-knee in Derreck Johnson’s online neck.
I got wind of this via a phone call from a friend. I called Derreck Johnson and we talked extensively. I told him that my first introduction to him was from an email from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. I said it wasn’t the first time my godsister advanced a candidate to challenge Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan. I also told him that, for those reasons, I thought of him as a Manchurian candidate. He laughed and understood and because I gave him a video platform to talk about running for office and about himself. I never sought to put him down. Blacks in America have had enough of media racism.
Unlike Oaklandside, I asked and gave Derreck Johnson a chance to tell his story:
And in this update, media racism comes from, of all places, a black publication’s representative.
Note from Zennie62Media and Oakland News Now: this video-blog post demonstrates the full and live operation of the latest updated version of an experimental Zennie62Media , Inc. mobile media video-blogging system network that was launched June 2018. This is a major part of Zennie62Media , Inc.’s new and innovative approach to the production of news media. What we call “The Third Wave of Media”. The uploaded video is from a vlogger with the Zennie62 on YouTube Partner Channel, then uploaded to and formatted automatically at the Oakland News Now site and Zennie62-created and owned social media pages. The overall objective is smartphone-enabled, real-time, on the scene reporting of news, interviews, observations, and happenings anywhere in the World and within seconds and not hours. Now, news is reported with a smartphone: no heavy and expensive cameras or even a laptop are necessary. The secondary objective is faster, and very inexpensive media content news production and distribution. We have found there is a disconnect between post length and time to product and revenue generated. With this, the problem is far less, though by no means solved. Zennie62Media is constantly working to improve the system network coding and seeks interested content and media technology partners.
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