Curtis Gaines III, Features Editor
Micaela Turner, Staff Writer
Devon Campbell, News And Opinions Editor
February is recognized as Black History Month. As black writers for The Torch, we feel it is crucial to highlight the importance of having black voices in media. Throughout American history, representation has been a controversial issue regarding blacks and public perception.
Over the past few decades, significant progress has been made towards equality for blacks in America. These efforts have been made due to the contributions and sacrifices black journalists have made throughout the years. Due to the firsthand accounts of the black experience of living in a country that historically has not been favorable for people of color, readers of all races got to understand what it means to be black in America.
In the early to mid-1800’s, literacy laws were made to prevent blacks from learning how to read. Learning was exclusively underground, with the earliest forms of black writing in America being slave narratives. Slave narratives were writings of slaves or former slaves explaining the racism and hardships that they endured during these times. This form of writing is important in American history because it captures a horrifying time that still affects many people of color today.
Even though Americans have been celebrating black history since the late 1920’s, society continued to shut them out. Jim Crow laws were enforced causing racial segregation and violence in the South, which made it difficult for the persepctive of black writers to be heard.
The future of African American authors became uncertain, yet these writers continued to produce works and became famous in fiction and poetry genres. One of the significant times that became a turning point for black writers is the Harlem Renaissance. This helped African Americans gain dominance over self-representation of black culture.
“Being a minority is one of the most valuable experiences…” wrote Sarah Vasquez of The Matador Network. “The sensitivity and awareness we learn from the minority perspective is important to bettering ourselves as global citizens. This is especially true for citizens of the United States.”
America is such a melting pot of takes and opinions that it benefits not only blacks, but people across all racial demographics to see black opinions expressed in media. It is undeniable that the wealth of opinions in white-dominated spaces can give better perspective on the issues that people go through on a daily basis.
When you get a secondhand opinion of hardships that people go through, the message becomes slightly disingenuous. How would someone who has never experienced a problem or situation be able to speak on that situation? The importance of black perspectives is highlighted because we have to make sure African Americans can speak for themselves, especially in today’s America. The privileged speaking for the marginalized is a huge problem in today’s society as it creates a disconnect between what the oppressed need and what the privileged think the oppressed need. Coming back to the first point, how would someone know what you needed if they aren’t you?
Today, there are many blacks in media that carry on the legacy of black perspectives for future generations to follow. From the Stephen A. Smiths in sports media to the Van Jones’s of political media, many avenues are open for blacks to further advance the progression of black voices being heard.
Seeing faces that look like us further proves that race is not a setback, but an opportunity to take progression even further. More still has to be done, but a lot of ground has been made from the perspective of black writers in media. This Black History Month, we celebrate all the contributions from black voices that are helping the fight for equality for all people across all walks of life.