"Negro Cocaine Fiend" Stories Echo Today
Sunday, February 2, 2014
" Negro Cocaine 'Fiends' Are a New Southern Menace. That was the headline of an article I came across while doing research for my PhD in 1996," Carl L. Hart wrote for the Feb. 17 edition of the Nation. "It involved trying to understand the neurobiological and behavioral effects of psychoactive drugs like cocaine and nicotine. So I read everything that seemed relevant.
"The provocatively headlined article had appeared in The New York Times on February 8, 1914. I was surprised by the title, although I knew it was once acceptable to print such blatantly racist words in respectable papers. But what really shocked me was how similar it was to modern media coverage of illegal drugs and how, from early on, the racialized discourse on drugs served a larger political purpose.
"The author, a distinguished physician, wrote: '[The Negro fiend] imagines that he hears people taunting and abusing him, and this often incites homicidal attacks upon innocent and unsuspecting victims.' And he continued, 'the deadly accuracy of the cocaine user has become axiomatic in Southern police circles…. the record of the "cocaine nigger" near Asheville who dropped five men dead in their tracks using only one cartridge for each, offers evidence that is sufficiently convincing.'
"Cocaine, in other words, made black men uniquely murderous and better marksmen. But that wasn't all. It also produced 'a resistance to the "knock down" effects of fatal wounds. Bullets fired into vital parts that would drop a sane man in his tracks, fail to check the "fiend." '
"Preposterous? Yes, but such reporting was not the exception. Between 1898 and 1914, numerous articles appeared exaggerating the association of heinous crimes and cocaine use by blacks. In some cases, suspicion of cocaine intoxication by blacks was reason enough to justify lynchings. Eventually, it helped influence legislation. . . ."
Hart also wrote, "Black males are no longer lynched for violating drug laws, but they are killed. (Ramarley Graham, the unarmed Bronx teen who was chased into his bathroom and shot because police officers believed he had drugs, is just one recent example.) More common is the insidious damage inflicted on black men by the selective enforcement of drug laws. Arrested, incarcerated and placed under criminal justice supervision, they wind up marginalized and deprived of an education. Incredibly, one in three black boys born today will spend time in prison if this country doesn't alter its current approach.
"One hundred years after the myth of the 'Negro cocaine fiend' helped sell the Harrison Act to Congress, its legacy lives on. . . ."
- Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: President Obama Sends Powerful Message on Draconian Drug Sentencing (Dec. 24, 2013)
- Dana Liebelson, Mother Jones: Cutting Unfair Crack Cocaine Sentences Saves Taxpayers > $500 Million
- WAMU-FM, Washington: Crack: The Drug that Consumed the Nation’s Capital
- DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: Obama rights cocaine law disparity (Dec. 23, 2013)
Who "won" in Bill O'Reilly's pre-Super Bowl interview with President Obama? Was it the public?
"Remember how much was at stake in February 2011: The GOP had just started running the House; we all knew huge showdowns were coming; and of course all of it was prelude to 2012," Michael Tomasky wrote Sunday for the Daily Beast. "That O’Reilly interview — I remember a definite sense of drama around it — was a sort of Peoria tryout for everything the right would throw at Obama in his reelection campaign.
"This time? It was mostly like both of them were actors playing 'Barack Obama' and 'Bill O’Reilly.' Going through the motions. Oh, there were brief moments of frisson. . . ."
Tomasky noted "there was nothing about the future at all . . . And it ain't 2011 anymore."
Tomasky's headline writer wrote: "The Obama and O’Reilly Interview Was a Super Snore." But at the New York Times, the headline was, "Obama Is Tackled by O’Reilly in Pre-Game Interview."
The Washington Post's Erik Wemple agreed. "Fox News's Bill O'Reilly aces Obama interview" read the headline over his blog.
O'Reilly's topics were Benghazi, the IRS and health-care reform. African American and other websites made their headlines from Obama's answer to O'Reilly's question about whether a local Cincinnati IRS office knowingly targeted conservative groups for scrutiny with the knowledge of president's team. Obama replied, "These kind of things keep surfacing because you and your TV station will promote them."
"Obama Blames Fox News for Stirring Up Political Trouble," headlined The Root.
On his "News One Now" show on Monday, host Roland Martin said he would have asked questions more relevant to the Super Bowl: What about the issue of football players' concussions? What about the graduation rates of college players? How about that lawsuit by a member of the Oakland Raiders' 'Raiderettes' cheer squad who says that cheerleaders' wages, which are paid at the end of the season, are equivalent to earnings of less than $5 per hour?
- Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: O'Reilly outFoxed by Obama
- Howard Kurtz, Fox News: O'Reilly vs. Obama scorecard: A combative Super Bowl showdown
- Dana Milbank, Washington Post: Bill O’Reilly's Obama interview showed a nation still divided
"In retrospect, it was over before it started, but Super Bowl XLVIII still managed to draw more viewers than any other broadcast in U.S. television history," Anthony Crupi reported Monday for adweek.com.
"According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Fox's Super Bowl broadcast delivered an average 111.5 million viewers, besting the previous record holder set by NBC in 2012 by the slimmest of margins. (The Peacock's coverage of the Patriots-Giants rematch delivered 111.3 million viewers.) . . ."
- Jerry Brewer, Seattle Times: Pete Carroll makes a statement with Super Bowl victory
- Boston.com: Brand Bowl 2014 (Readers' Choices of Super Bowl Commercials)
- J.R. Gamble, the Shadow League: Doug Williams Passes The Peas To Super Bowl Champ Russell Wilson
- Huffington Post: Coca-Cola 'America the Beautiful' Super Bowl Ad Celebrates Diversity, Twitter Explode (VIDEO)
- Elias Isquith, Salon: Coca-Cola's multilingual Super Bowl ad is driving Twitter xenophobes crazy
- Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News: NFC West poised to dominate NFL for a long while
- Evan McMurry, mediaite.com: Coca-Cola Ad Featured First Gay Family in Super Bowl Ad History
- James Poniewozik, Time: Coca-Cola's "It's Beautiful" Super Bowl Ad Brings Out Some Ugly Americans
- William C. Rhoden, New York Times: A Boyish Style Works Just Fine for the Man With the League's Best Defense
- Jim Romenesko blog: Seattle Times Adds 100,000 Papers to Today's Press Run
- Jim Romenesko blog: Seattle Times Opinion Editor: It's OK for Me to Root for the Home Team
- Michael Tillery, the Shadow League: The Comet From Mars (Feb. 1)
"ABC News president Ben Sherwood made it official this morning, announcing Mara Schiavocampo has joined ABC News as a New York-based correspondent," Deadline Hollywood reported on Monday.
"Schiavocampo, who'd been with NBC since 2007, becoming Early Today anchor in ’10 and also anchoring MSNBC’s First Look, left that network in December. At ABC News she will be a New York-based correspondent reporting on all platforms. . . ."
Schiavocampo was the National Association of Black Journalists' "Emerging Journalist of the Year" in 2007. Shortly afterward, she was hired as a digital journalist for "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams."
"It's officially Black History Month. Not that you'd know it if you live in San Francisco," Caille Millner wrote Friday for the San Francisco Chronicle.
"I've been thinking about this a lot lately. For years, I've actively discouraged the smart, ambitious African Americans I know from moving to San Francisco. This may come as a surprise to many local residents, most of whom are possessed of the unshakable belief in the superiority of the city above all others, but not everyone thinks so — and that includes many well-educated African Americans. . . ."
Millner also wrote, 'While city officials claim to wring their hands over San Francisco's shrinking black population (6 percent in 2012 and dropping like a stone), obvious steps to mitigate the decline go unnoticed and unheeded. Maybe they can't do anything about the cost of living — which is probably the No. 1 reason why African Americans, along with everyone else, leave San Francisco — but they could do things to make people feel welcome. Here's an obvious suggestion: Would it really be that hard for San Francisco to acknowledge its black history? . . ."
Millner, an an editorial writer and Datebook columnist at the Chronicle, told Journal-isms by email, "It seemed like Black history month would be a timely moment to talk about these things. But of course I’ve been thinking about them for a while . . . ."
The Chronicle did not participate in the latest diversity survey of the American Society of News Editors.
- Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Root: Shouldn't Every Day Be 'Black History Month'?
As reported in this space in November, Southern newspapers are reluctant to disturb monuments to those who fought to perpetuate slavery, tributes erected in reaction to emancipation and later to the struggle for equal rights for African Americans.
But Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Eric Foner, the DeWitt Clinton professor of history at Columbia University, has another idea that newspaper opinion writers might consider.
Foner wrote in Sunday's print edition of the New York Times Book Review, "Monuments to Confederate heroes, including leaders of the Ku Klux Klan, dot the Southern landscape, but virtually none to black officials of Reconstruction. It took South Carolina until 1998 to install a portrait of the black justice Jonathan J. Wright in its Supreme Court building, along likenesses of the other members of the court in the state's history.
"The Denmark Vesey monument," which would commemorate the plotter of an unsuccessful slave insurrection in 1822 in Charleston, S.C., "remains unfinished. So, in many ways, does Reconstruction."
Asked to elaborate on who might be honored, Foner told Journal-isms Monday by email:
"I wrote an op-ed about this question in the NY Times some years ago . . . It had to do with not taking down Confederate monuments but adding new ones to go with them.
"There were perhaps 2000 black officials in Reconstruction — US Senators, Congressmen, state officials, local officials, members of legislature. One or two of them may have a monument (Robert Smalls in Beaufort, SC for example). But many deserve them — the two black Senators ([Hiram] Revels and [Blanche K.] Bruce of Mississippi), other congressmen and others. I wrote a book, Freedom's Lawmakers, with brief sketches of about 1500 of these black officials.
"An interesting point is that there are few if any monuments to General James Longstreet, not because of any failures as a Confederate general, but because after the war he joined the Republican party and supported the rights of blacks. On the other hand, there are more monuments in Tennessee to Nathan B. Forrest, a slave trader, commander of troops who massacred black soldiers after they surrendered at Fort Pillow, and a leader of the Klan, than to the state's two presidents, Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson.
"James Loewen's book Lies Across America talks a lot about monuments and issues surrounding them."
- With Paper's Support, Confederate Name Voted Off School (Dec. 18, 2013)
- . . . In Memphis, Grave and Statue Stay, but Park Name Goes (Dec. 18, 2013)
- Anne Sarah Rubin, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, C-SPAN: Civil War Memory (creation of the "Lost Cause" myth) (video) (Dec. 6, 2013)
- Erich Wagner, Alexandria (Va.) Times: No More Dead Confederates (Jan. 23)
- Timothy B. Wheeler, Baltimore Sun: Maryland lawmakers asked to revisit vote for slavery
In 2010, Vanity Fair spokeswoman Beth Kseniak told Journal-isms, "Vanity Fair's Hollywood cover has always been a reflection of Hollywood and the industry. Generally, as is the case this year, it's made up of young actresses who already have a few films to their credit and will be appearing in more movies in the coming months."
All the women were white.
In 2012, Kseniak said, "We're very pleased with our cover and the talented women who adorn all three panels."
That year, there were two women of color, on the right two-thirds of the cover, the part that is folded and tucked away on newstand.
On Monday, Vanity Fair unveiled a "sneak peek" of its Hollywood issue cover for 2014.
It features two black female actors, Lupita Nyong'o of "12 Years a Slave" and Naomie Harris of "Mandela," and four black male actors, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman. The cover was shot by Annie Leibovitz. The issue goes on newsstands Feb. 11.
"Grey's Anatomy and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes managed to score the Diversity trophy at this year's Directors Guild of America Awards and school her peers on the importance of cultural inclusion," Camille Travis wrote Jan. 27 for centrictv.com.
"On Saturday, she and production partner Betsy Beers took the stage to accept their honor, but not without the 44-year-old showrunner expressing her slight disappointment in being given the award. During her speech, Rhimes stated:
"'When I heard I was getting an award I was really, truly, profoundly honored. I began to get calls from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, etc., and I was asked to comment on the award. Asked how good I felt about the award. Asked if it made me feel like I was doing the right thing. Asked if it had been a struggle making diversity happen on my cast and crews. While I'm still really and truly profoundly honored to receive this award, but I was also a little pissed off. So was Betsy. So over many, many, many bottles of wine we discussed this. Betsy and I are being applauded and given an award for something that we should all be doing. There shouldn't need to be an award!' . . ."
"An Al Jazeera cameraman who has been in detention in Egypt has been acquitted along with 61 other defendants, the channel's lawyer has said," Al Jazeera reported on Sunday.
"The lawyer said on Sunday that Mohamed Badr was not held on any other charges and should be released, although that must be ordered by the court.
"Badr had been held since July accused of involvement in rioting in Ramses Square, Cairo, during protests against the army's removal of the former president, Mohamed Morsi, from power.
"Al Jazeera repeatedly denied the accusations and called for his release since he was arrested. . . ."
The story also said, "Correspondent Peter Greste and producers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been held in custody for more than a month without charge. Another Al Jazeera staff member, Abdullah al-Shami, has been in custody since August. . . ."
- Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press: Video Surfaces Of Al Jazeera Journalists' Arrest In Egypt
- Joshua Hersh, the New Yorker: Journalism Becomes a Crime in Egypt
- International Press Institute: IPI welcomes acquittal of Egyptian cameraman
- Jared Malsin, Columbia Journalism Review: There are no Al Jazeera journalists reporting in Egypt
- "Last Wednesday, hundreds of Patch employees nationwide were fired on an early morning conference call," Max Blau wrote Friday for Atlanta's Creative Loafing alternative newspaper. "The layoffs, which followed AOL's recent sale of the hyper-local news platform to a tech investment firm for an undisclosed sum, affected between 60 to 90 percent of its entire staff, according to multiple estimates." Blau also wrote, "the cuts hit its Georgia sites especially hard. Two editorial staffers are now tasked with running the state's 45 websites. . . ."
- Randy Gener, "the arts and culture journalist who faces a long road to recovery after being attacked in Midtown last week allegedly escalated the fight by kicking a woman in the chest during an altercation on the sidewalk, according to a criminal complaint from the Manhattan District Attorney's office," Mathew Katz reported Thursday for DNAinfo New York.
- Cord Jefferson is leaving Gawker to write for LeBron James's new Starz TV show, Jim Romenesko reported Monday on his media blog. Jefferson went to Gawker as West Coast editor in 2012 after being senior editor of GOOD. He was also a contributing columnist for Gizmodo.
- The African-American Film Critics Association honored Variety chief film critic Justin Chang with its inaugural Roger Ebert Award. Chang got a laugh from the audience as he remarked, "I'm probably the first Asian-American critic receiving an award named after a white critic from an African-American critics group," Andrea Seikaly reported Saturday for Variety.
- Just when "Saturday Night Live" scored points for diversity by adding an African African American female player and two African American female writers, the NBC show stumbled with a skit showing two cast members in "a high-flying, wire-swinging martial arts duel," Jeff Yang wrote Monday for the Wall Street Journal. But the writers "put a little yellow icing on the cake, bringing in a squinting, eyebrow-quirking Taran Killam in a Nehru jacket to play the fight's narrator, complete with stilted accent and gong," Yang wrote. It was a reminder of how much more diversity the show needs. "There aren't any Asian Americans on SNL now. There's never been an Asian American featured player on SNL ever, at least not one who could conceivably have done a less cringeworthy job of playing Killam’s 'random Chinese dude' than he did. . . ."
- A. Victoria Rivas-Vázquez has been named Noticias Telemundo's Washington bureau chief, Telemundo announced on Monday. She has been vice president of communications at Georgetown University Medical Center and assistant press secretary during President Bill Clinton's first term, among other positions.
- "Univision is building bridges with the 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner, while helping early childhood education at the same time," John Eggerton reported Monday for Multichannel News. "On Feb. 4, Univision president Randy Falco will team with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Foundation's Too Small to Fail initiative on Pequeños Y Valiosos (Young & Valuable), which will focus on helping parents improve the health and well-being of kids five and under. . . ."
- "President Obama says that he has 'cared deeply' about network neutrality ever since he ran for office because he said that campaign was 'powered by a free and open Internet," John Eggerton reported for Multichannel News. "That came in a Google Hangout event Friday, Jan. 31." Eggerton also reported, "The President pointed out that the FCC was an independent agency and that he could not 'meddle' in the decision making there. But he said that based on his conversations with [Tom] Wheeler before he took the job [as FCC chairman] that he was 'pretty confident' the FCC is going to be 'exploring how they can continue to uphold what makes the Internet so special. . . .' "
- "TNT and TBS said they are partnering with online community The Black List on an initiative to promote diversity in the industry by identifying talented writers to develop scripts and concepts for the networks," Multichannel News reported on Monday. The article continued, "The Black List is an online location where video content creators find scripts to make and writers to write them and where writers find producers, studios and networks to make their scripts and employ them. . . ."
- In Ecuador, "The Office of the Superintendent of Communication, a post created by the June 2013 communication law, has given cartoonist Xavier Bonilla three days from today to publish a correction of a cartoon deemed to have defamed the government," Reporters Without Borders said on Monday. Lucie Morillon, the press freedom group's head of research, said, "How can you 'correct' a cartoon, which is by definition exaggerated? How will Bonilla avoid having to criticize all of his future cartoons whenever they displease the authorities? This decision is absurd and dangerous. . . ."
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince.
To be notified of new columns, contact email@example.com and tell us who you are.
Special thanks to The McCormick Foundation for its generous support of the Journal-isms column.
- Journo-diversity advocate turns attention to Ezra Klein project
(Erik Wemple, Washington Post, March 5, 2014)
- "Love, Peace and Soul!" And More
- Book Notes: Soothing the Senses, Shocking the Conscience
- Diversity's Greatest Hits, 2013
- Diversity's Greatest Hits, 2012
- Diversity's Greatest Hits, 2011
- Diversity's Greatest Hits, 2010
- Diversity's Greatest Hits, 2009
- Diversity's Greatest Hits, 2008
- Books to Ring In the New Year
- In-Your-Face Holiday Reads
- Fishbowl Interview With the Fresh Prince of D.C. (Oct. 26, 2012)
- NABJ to Honor Columnist Richard Prince With Ida B. Wells Award (Oct. 11, 2012)
- So What Do You Do, Richard Prince, Columnist for the Maynard Institute? (Richard Horgan, FishbowlLA Aug. 22, 2012)
- Who Am I? What's Race Got to Do With It?: Journalists Explore Identity
- Catching Up With Books for the Fall
- Richard Prince Helps Journalists Set High Bar (Jackie Jones, BlackAmericaWeb.com, 2011)
- 10 Ways to Turn Pages This Summer
- 7 for Serious Spring Reading
- 7 Candidates for the Journalist's Library
- 9 That Add Heft to the Bookshelf
- Five Minutes With Richard Prince (Newspaper Association of America, 2005)
- 'Journal-isms' That Engage and Inform Diverse Audiences (Q&A with Mallary Jean Tenore, Poynter Institute, 2008)
Work We <3 | FDP
Instead of spending all our time calling out journalism that doesn't work, we want to find work we like. We'd like to encourage our readers to submit links to content that is moving or challenging and that goes beyond the standard narrative either at the level of form or content. In other words, we want to see journalism that works.
We're particularly interested in work at the nexus of the following categories:
- Please include a comment explaining why the content you're sharing works.
- Comments can be as short or long as desired.
Find us on Facebook
Richard Prince Journal-isms Archive
Dori Maynard tweets on Diversity, Media & More
@JamilSmith The distorted #media depiction of African American men & boys has real life consequences, again. #mediadiversity #Tremaine