By Sherri L. Jackson
Publisher of The Light and EverythingCenla.com
In the African-American church tradition there’s a simple phrase that is used when one is lost for words or emotionally caught up in the atmosphere. Here it is, “If I can’t say a word, I’ll just wave my hand.”
Since the exchange between Tony Brown of Eyes Open With Tony Brown Productions and Lisa Harris of the City of Alexandria, I’ve been waving my hand. Now that my hand is down and I’ve come to myself, I’ve got much to say about Harris’ apparent disregard of the media which serves the black community.
In full disclosure, I am an African-American woman who publishes The Light, which is predominately distributed in Cenla’s black commuities, but has a heavy online and print readership in the mainstream community.
Yes, it it true that the mainstream media, particularly The Town Talk and KALB, has a wider viewing audience primarily because of its resources. Still, I want Harris, an African-American woman, to know that the readers and listeners of The Light, The Alexandria News Weekly, Eyes Open With Tony Brown, KAYT, KTTP and others should not be taken lightly.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Brown spoke of the city’s lack of advertising in the media that serves the black community in August when the city held its makeup concert with Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. Harris admitted she didn’t send advertising dollars to the black media because she was looking to get “the best bang for the buck” in her advertising dollars.”
Harris went on to say that race is not a factor when she decides where to spend the taxpayers’ dollars. In fact, she said, “I’m here to do a job and do the best I can. I am not a racist, have never been and never will be.”
In response to Harris’ statement about not looking at color, Brown responded, “Well, you should.”
I agree with Brown’s response in that Harris should look at color when deciding how to spend her advertising dollars. Yet, I believe the color is not white or black. The color is green.
The color of money takes away white, black, brown, red and yellow. Green is the color of good business sense. As it relates to “Que’in Too” and the Maze concert, if green was the dominant color, advertising dollars should have been spent in the media that would have brought Maze’s fans to the concert. Those dollars should have been spent in The Light, Alexandria News Weekly, Eyes Open With Tony Brown, KAYT, KTTP and others that have a heavy concentration of readers and listeners who were more than likely going to attend the concert. I will bet my bottom dollar that most people in the white community were not going to see or listen to Maze.
If it’s true that Harris’ mandate was to spend money in Lake Charles, Lafayette, Shreveport or Monroe, there were still opportunities to spend use the color green. There are successful media companies with a heavy concentration of black listeners and readers in those communities. In Lake Charles, there is the Gumbo Media Network. In Shreveport, there is the Shreveport Sun. In Monroe, there is the Monroe Dispatch. Certainly, there is a multitude of radio stations that could have been used.
With all that I’ve said, I must say that it’s not smart business to disregard the power of the media that serves the black community. It is the black media that covers the black community when the mainstream community wouldn’t think about coming to the countless family reunions, church picnics, and other events that showcase the black community in a positive light.
While I’m on that page, I must also say to those in the black communities, when using the color green it makes no sense to spend all of your advertising dollars in the mainstream media and come to us with free announcements. Let’s face it, those who are more than likely to attend your church functions, will see it and hear it from the black media rather than in the mainstream media.
Afterall, it was publications such as the Chicago Defender and Louisiana Weekly that carried the torch for equal, justice and equality for all. These media companies and others have the same mission today.
Just think, if we have the power to keep people away from an event as it was stated in the meeting, we certainly would have the power to bring people to the event.