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In Time Issue, Blacks Are "Beyond 9/11"

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

No African Americans Pictured in Commemorative

Diaz-Balart Passionately Defends His Immigration Questions

G.I. Killed Afghan Journalist, Mistaking Him for Bomber

Sharpton to Be News Analyst on "Big Political Nights"

White House Offered Its Own Stream, Own Experts

Smiley Special Explores Young Black Male Dropout Rate

Short Takes

No African Americans Pictured in Commemorative

Commemorative went on sale on Thursday.Time magazine this week published "Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience," a photo-rich commemorative edition dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. No identifiable African Americans are pictured in its 64 pages.

Asked about the omission, Time spokeswoman Kerri Chyka said by email: "TIME is declining to comment at this time."

The issue is published at a time in its history when the magazine apparently has no African American editors.

"There certainly are African Americans on Time's masthead," spokeswoman Ali Zelenko told Journal-isms by email. However, she did not respond when asked to name them. The masthead lists other staffers in addition to editors.

"I will reiterate that diversity has been, and remains, an important priority at Time," Zelenko said.

A Time announcement said, "To create this special edition, award-winning photographer Marco Grob worked with the editors of TIME to produce an astonishing set of forty portraits coupled with dramatic oral histories from survivors and leaders including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, General David [Petraeus], George Pataki, Rudolph Giuliani, Valerie Plame Wilson, Tom Brokaw, Daisy Khan, Howard Lutnick, James Yee, and many more. Additionally, for the very first time, the only four survivors of the attack on Tower Two of the World Trade Center who were above the point of impact tell their stories."

Despite their absence in Time, African Americans' involvement in the story of Sept. 11 has been chronicled in other media outlets.

Of the 343 firefighters killed on Sept. 11, about a dozen were black [video] and a dozen were Hispanic, according to department estimates, the New York Times reported in 2002, when a controversy arose over a decision to create an ethnically and racially diverse statue honoring the firefighters who died. The photograph on which it was based featured three white men.

Jason Thomas, a former U.S. Marine, helped to rescue a pair of Port Authority police officers in the rubble, the Associated Press reported in 2006. He was portrayed by a white actor in the film "World Trade Center."

Sunday's Parade magazine includes an interview with Melodie Homer, whose husband, LeRoy Homer Jr., was the first officer on United Flight 93, which crashed into a Pennsylvania field after passengers and crew members fought back against terrorists who’d seized the plane’s controls.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that a substantial number of American Muslims — whose lives changed measurably after the attack — are black.

Some media outlets went this year to Madeleine V. Leckie Elementary School in Washington, which lost a student, a teacher and two parents when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, killing 184 people.

"Hilda E. Taylor, the teacher killed in the attack, was from Sierra Leone and had often lamented that Americans cared little about history and geography," Lynette Clemetson wrote in the New York Times in 2006, on the event's fifth anniversary. "Active with the National Geographic Society, Ms. Taylor took students on field trips sponsored by the organization.

"In 2001, Ms. Taylor selected Ms. Brown’s son, Bernard Brown II, a sixth grader with a magnetic personality and a permanent grin. Bernard, 11, was a good student, and Ms. Taylor thought a trip to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary off California would motivate him to work even harder. Along on the trip were students and teachers from two other Washington schools, who were among those who died in the crash."

Rebecca Blatt, of Washington's WAMU-FM, visited John Milton Wesley, who lost his fiancée, Sarah Clark, a 65-year-old teacher from Columbia, Md., who was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

of wrote about Clark and two other victims, Michael Richards and Peggie Hurt.

Denise Allen, a needlework and folk artist, with her 9/11 memory quilt (Credit: Albor Ruiz, a columnist at the New York Daily News, told readers about Denise Allen, a highly regarded needlework and folk artist, whose memory quilt depicting the terrorist attacks is to hang at the World Trade Center National 9/11 Memorial and Museum as part of its opening exhibition.

And the Indianapolis Star published photos by its late African American photojournalist, Mpozi Mshale Tolbert, who spent 11 days documenting rescue work in New York by the Indiana Task Force One. Tolbert died at age 34 in 2006, collapsing in the newsroom.

In the broader view, African Americans might offer a different view of the last 10 years.

In December 2001, Madison Shockley wrote on, the San Francisco Chronicle's website:

"While we share the majority's view of Sept. 11, African Americans have a different perspective on Sept. 12 and thereafter. We are not nearly as anxious to go bombing around the world in a macho attempt to restore our pride as the biggest, baddest player on the planet.

"According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for People [&] the Press, 39 percent of African Americans surveyed — compared with 17 percent of whites — are doubtful about the prospects of military action. And while support for President Bush is running at 80 percent among the general public, among blacks his support is still below 50 percent."

That October, Cornell Lewis, a pastor at Northend Church of Christ in Hartford, Conn., wrote in the Hartford Courant:

"I began calling African Americans in different parts of the United States to find out how they felt about these terrorist attacks 

" . . . I found out through the calls that there is a diversity of opinions among blacks. Some were for defending this country at all costs. Some are ambivalent about embracing this new patriotic fervor. A pastor in New York believed that America's arrogance, insensitivity and ignorance of other cultures and its foreign-policy decisions were to blame for the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. One black woman in Detroit said, `After all America did to other nations, the sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons.' "

Diaz-Balart Passionately Defends His Immigration Questions

Jose Diaz-BalartTelemundo's Jose Diaz-Balart passionately defended his choice of immigration as his topic for Thursday's Republican presidential debate, telling Journal-isms Friday that the decision was his and that immigration "is a huge issue in our community.

"The first, second and third issues of the Hispanic population that I serve are jobs," he said. "When you have 11.3 percent unemployment rates and 16 percent in the African American community, if you don't deal with the issue of jobs, you are not catering to their needs."

However, Diaz-Balart said, by the time his turn came in the MSNBC debate, co-moderators Brian Williams of NBC News and John F. Harris of Politico had already asked about the economy and jobs.

"If there was one person in the debate who was free, it was me," Diaz-Balart said. "I told them I'm going to do immigration," and no one objected. He said he had three other subjects but exhausted only one of them. All the candidates were asked to address it, which he said earned him praise for its fairness.

"It helps the Hispanic community to gauge public servants by how they feel about immigration reform," the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-born anchor said. Hispanics have a saying, "Tell me who you have as a friend, and I will better know who you are." Because of the number of undocumented immigrants and the possibiiity of deportation, he said, "There's fear in our community."

Some journalists, Latinos and others, said they thought it looked like stereotyping for Diaz-Balart to ask the only questions about immigration.

"The gimmick gave rise to instant heckling in the Twitterverse, with many seizing upon it as a blatant act [of] tokenism. Pundits and others mused whether a Jewish reporter would soon be brought out to ask about Israel, or a gay journalist to ask about gay marriage. Others commented on Diaz-Balart's lack of camera time," Erika Fry wrote Thursday in the Columbia Journalism Review.

"The National Review rated the outsourcing of the immigration issue to Telemundo as the debate's 'weak media moment,' while the Los Angeles Times said it provided the event's 'biggest unanswered question: What in the world did Telemundo's Jose Diaz-Balart do to be denied a chair on stage like Williams and Harris had?' "

However, Jeremy M. Gaines, spokesman for MSNBC, said by email, "it was an NBC News/Politico debate with two moderators (not three). We thought it would be a great opportunity to have Telemundo be able to ask a few questions since they were airing it.

"We were thrilled that Telemundo was able to air the NBC News/Politico debate in Spanish and take part in the questioning. The immigration issue is of vital importance to the entire electorate and we were glad the candidates were able to address the issue in a meaningful way for the first time in a debate this election season."

Diaz-Balart said the debate made history as the first English-language debate that was also shown in Spanish. He hosted the Spanish-language edition of the debate that aired at 11:30 p.m. that night on NBC-owned Telemundo.

He said he hoped to ask his other questions in a future debate.

G.I. Killed Afghan Journalist, Mistaking Him for Bomber

"NATO acknowledged Thursday that an American soldier killed an Afghan journalist working for the BBC after mistaking him for a suicide bomber during a complex attack in southern Afghanistan in July," Ray Rivera reported Friday for the New York Times.

Ahmed Omed Khpulwak"The acknowledgment came weeks after family members of the reporter, Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, had raised questions about his death, and after an independent investigation had found strong clues suggesting that Mr. Khpulwak was not killed by insurgents in the suicide attack as initially believed. Last month, the BBC demanded an investigation by NATO.

"NATO officials apologized to the family on Thursday and issued a two-page summary of the episode. The report said the soldier believed Mr. Khpulwak had fired on American troops and was about to detonate a suicide vest when he 'shot the individual with his M-4, killing him.'

"Gen. John R. Allen, the top commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, ordered the investigation. The report found the soldier 'complied with the laws of armed conflict and rules of engagement and acted reasonably under the circumstances.'

"Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News, said in a statement that Mr. Khpulwak’s death 'further highlights the great dangers facing journalists who put their lives on the line to provide vital news from around the world.' The news service said it was awaiting the full report and would study the findings."

Sharpton to Be News Analyst on "Big Political Nights"

Al Sharpton's role at MSNBC will extend beyond the 6 p.m. "PoliticsNation" time slot he was chosen to host, MSNBC spokesman Jeremy M. Gaines confirmed on Friday.

"You can expect to see him be part of the panel on big political nights with our other primetime hosts," Gaines said.

Sharpton did a lengthy turn as a news analyst immediately after President Obama's address to Congress on jobs Thursday night, along with other non-journalist hosts such as Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews, and journalists such as Chuck Todd.

The activist said of Obama, "The one you saw tonight was brilliant. Once you get the tune, the lyrics are going to be brilliant." The president, as he outlined his jobs plan, said certain details, such as the means to finance much of it, would come later.

Sharpton was also in the analyst's role after the Republican presidential debate on Wednesday. There, alongside other talk-show hosts such as Matthews and Lawrence O'Donnell and journalist Eugene Robinson, Sharpton noted that the event was held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. He said the candidates seemed to be more rigid in their views than Reagan. "Reagan looked like the Democrat in the room," the activist said, adding that Reagan had raised taxes and run up the deficit.

MSNBC's announcement last month that Sharpton had been hired mentioned only his role as "PoliticsNation" host.

Meanwhile, CNN announced, "CNN and the Tea Party Express, along with more than 100 local tea party groups from every state across the country, will team up Monday, September 12 to present a first-of-its-kind debate from the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention: Tampa, Florida. Eight Republican presidential contenders will face questions from moderator and lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer during the two-hour event, which will air live on CNN from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. from the Florida State Fairgrounds."

President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress Thursday on jobs and the econo

White House Offered Its Own Stream, Own Experts

"The broadcast and cable nets may be dropping regular programming to roadblock the President's jobs speech to a joint session of Congress Thursday night, but in an email to the White House press list Thursday, the administration was encouraging those journalists to watch the White House's own annotated live stream (," John Eggerton wrote Thursday for Broadcasting & Cable.

"The White House will even include a post-speech panel, echoing the post-event punditry panel that has become the standard for cable news.

"In the email titled 'Jobs Speech Tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT — Watch Live,' the White House said: 'Make sure you watch the enhanced live stream of the speech with charts, graphs, and quick stats highlighting key points in the President's speech.'

" 'Immediately following the President's speech,' it said, 'the White House will offer a live panel where policy experts from the White House will answer your questions,] which can be submitted online.

Smiley Special Explores Young Black Male Dropout Rate

"In a new PBS special, Tavis Smiley investigates why factors such as generational poverty, unemployment, and the lack of positive male role models in schools are contributing to staggering drop-out rates in Black male youth," Britt Middleton wrote for

"PBS broadcaster Tavis Smiley will make an inquiry into an alarming truth that is well known yet rarely discussed: the number of African-American high school drop-outs, specifically males, is increasing at an alarming rate.

"A 2006 study by The Manhattan Institute surveyed 100 of the largest school districts in the United States and found that only 48 percent of African-American males earned a diploma — that’s 11 percent less than African-American females. More troubling is the research that shows on an average day, one and four Black males who drop out of high school will end up incarcerated.

". . . In the primetime special airing on PBS, Smiley will travel across the country and interview educational experts as well as the young men who have succumbed to this cultural epidemic.

"Smiley’s special, entitled 'Too Important To Fail', premieres on September 13 at 8 p.m."

Short Takes

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Beyond 9/11

I haven't read the piece in "Time" and don't plan on it.  I was there and lived through it.  So, I don't need anybody to tell me what THEIR thoughts are on it today or tomorrow.  But, it seems to me that many politicos are using this date as a photo-op.

Just take a look at the Opening Bell ceremony yesterday at the New York Stock Exchange.

TIME'S Exclusionary Journalism

Being a Black American even during historical events which impact the very core of our nation various interests always seek to exclude our presence  and discount our contributions in these awesome events.

Of course none of these efforts can shape or alter the truth and reality that quite often in these iconic moments at the very core of these events is the presence of Black Americans.

Black Americans will always make a difference in our nation.....

Time Magazine's 9/11 Commemorative Issue

How is it possible that Time's 9/11 issue includes no African Americans among the 38 people featured in its "Profiles of Resilience?" No first responders. No soldiers. No Pentagon or WTC survivors. No family members who lost loved ones. Not one black person among the people chosen to be the face of this tragedy made it into the magazine.

For now the official stance from Time's spokesperson, as quoted in Richard Prince's Journal-isms, appears to be "no comment." My questions--as a former network television news producer and executive--are 1) Did the editors even notice the absence? 2) If they did realize the absence, were they concerned? 3) Did they decide they could justify the decision? 4) Did they think it would not matter? 5) Did they think such an omission was an accurate way to cover this commemoration of a pivotal moment in American history?

I remember a meeting not too many years ago with a network television executive producer who had just completed an hour documentary about Catholics in America. While Latinos account for one-third of all Catholics in this country--according to Pew's 2008 U. S. Religious Landscape Survey--no Latinos were included in the program. When asked why, the EP--by all accounts an intelligent, capable journalist who had crafted an otherwise credible show--said the absence just hadn't occurred to him.

That is my concern: Did it just not occur to the editors responsible for this issue that this was a glaring omission?

No excuse for leaving African Americans out of the picture

I think it honestly just didn't occur to them. What makes this especially disturbing is that TIME is the magazine of record. This is one of the publications historians will use to get a glimpse of what life was like in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. For the African American presence to be left out completely, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is unbelievable. If the editor is smart, they will admit there was a grave mistake, do some serious analysis about their editorial process and staffing and take corrective measures to prevent a recurrence. However, my guess is that they won't have the humility to do that and will, instead, rationalize and defend what happened.

911 African American Folk Art Story Quilt

Dear Mr. Prince;

I am writing you to say thank you very much for including Mr. Ruiz's

article on the 911 Story Quilt on your site. I was commissioned to make the quilt by the Savannah College Of Art and Design in 2002.  The work

is colorful, very large, quite heavy as it is embellished with wire, wood,

cardboard, plastics, metal and applique work.  The story behind the work

is about what I really felt about the 911 bombing as it related to -not just

my son's death- but also about my husband escaping the tragedy as he

also worked at the towers for the Port Authority on the 74th floor for 33

years.  He barely made it out by the skin of his teeth.  I did not forget to

include the other americans who lost their life on that fateful day.  One of

the reasons I believe that the WTC Museum may not be interested in

exhibiting the work could be because it does have graphic scenes; people

jumping from the tower windows; some dead and dying people on the

ground; a scene of people stuck on an elevator enveloped in smoke and

fumes, etc.  There is also a lot handwritten text on the quilt; powerful

words from the mouths of people dying, people screaming, people

praying for mercy and forgiveness, people cursing God.  I included my

own words from deep within my heart about my heart being broken,

why we can't stop hate to our fellow man; What the future holds for this

world we live in.  The name of the piece is titled ''Never Again'' with the

subtitle ''Unexpected Destinies''.  Tomorrow evening on September 11,

2011 I will speaking on ''The Gist Of Freedom''  -a Internet Radio Program

about the 911 Folk Art Quilt and also about the other Historical African

American Folk Art Story Quilts I Make.  The program begins at 7pm. 

Once again, Thank you very much for sharing my story in your column.

I appreciate it very much.  Denise E. Allen, Folk Artist



More reader comments here:

More reader comments at the end of the Root's version of this column:

Beyond 9/11 - Time Magazine

As Americans of Africian descent, we must keep a watchful eye that our contribtions and sacrifices are not diregarded or ignored.  Not only for the families of those who have sacrificed and given their lives, but for all Americans to be informed that we, Americans of African descent, have always and will continually be a part of this country's landscape.  And for a major publication such as Time magazine not to acknowledge it in Beyond 9/11 is some of the worst journalism I have ever seen.  And 'having no comment' is unacceptable.  This is not how Time magazine and its reporters, who have a responsiblity to this country and its people, all of its people, should handle journalistic publications.  If this is something that persists, then maybe the people of this country need to let Time magazine know that we will not accept such exclusions.    

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