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Who knew that Northern Africa had been annexed into it's own little continent affectionately referred to in US media reports as The Middle East?
I mean, yes it's true that the US has never had a great relationship with Africa. Of course when you factor in the whole slave trade thing, America's support for colonialism, America's attitudes toward the apartheid regime in South Africa, America's positions during the Cold War, and the very popular belief (doesn't have to be true for people to believe it) among many US Blacks and continental Africans that the AIDS virus was engineered by the US government -let's just say the relationship has left a lot to be desired that not even the election of a African-American president can fix overnight.
But when does the madness stop?
I ask this because after watching and listening to weeks of news anchors and talking heads discuss the recent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and now Libya, if I didn't know any better, I'd think that those countries--and in fact all of Northern Africa, was now a part of some eighth continent called The Middle East.
I don't put anything past US news media when it comes to news out of Africa. In fact, for this very reason and others, I don't even rely on the US media for news out of Africa. But that's just me and unfortunately the majority of Americans somewhat in tune with the world around them do.
So let me put this into perspective for you. If what's happening in the northern countries of Africa were instead happening in China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and Vietnam what are the chances of the news media annexing those countries out of Asia? So why do they do it to Africa and more importantly who gave them the right to?
Look-I have enough problems with my own local news writers, producers, and talking heads not knowing the difference between Compton and Watts, Mid-City and South L.A., Willowbrook and Athens, and my favorite--'Leemert' or 'Liemert' Park--to have to be subjected to national news reports with more of the same.
And how come this never happens with countries in West Africa or South Africa, instead it's always North Africa?
Is it because the people of Northern Africa are lighter in their shade of Blackness? Or maybe it's because their noses tend to be narrower, more European in look so they couldn't possibly be the Africans that come to most non-Black American's minds. You know those images of naked starving children with bulging belly's and tiny limbs, women walking around with their breasts out, barefoot, while balancing a basket on their head, and men swinging from rope to rope dressed only in loincloth from the waist down demonstrating Tarzan's trademark yell. Or is it simply to hard for the US to report that African people are fighting for and winning their freedom--yet again?
I know I am not the only person trying to figure out how to challenge the obvious anti-Africa bias in US media reporting. It's no secret that news out of Africa and about Africans is no daily occurrence in most national newscasts and that when we do make the news, depending on the region-countries in Africa end up in this fictional continent known as The Middle East. The bad news is that today there are less and less Black news producers, news writers, and anchors from coast to coast-both on the local level and at the national networks to help correct this seemingly intentional catastrophic geographic mix-up.
As much as I believe at times that California and much of the South and Mid-West are their own respective countries operating inside the geographic confines of the US, the fact still remains that they are states in America. What I believe can't change that.
If we, meaning Black journalists and Black people don't challenge this blatant bias now, don't be surprised when there's breaking news of King Jaffe Joffer being dethroned in Zamunda, and that's real.
Based in Los Angeles but from Compton by way of the Middle Passage and the country of Cameroon, Jasmyne Cannick writes honestly where others do not about the intersection of culture, race, and politics in America. She can be reached at www.jasmynecannick.com.