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October 31, 2017

Gregory Meriweather @RadioBlackOn

I was on a panel some time ago called “The Bridge Project.” Jason Miller was responsible for bringing this concept to life. This panel was filled with 12 Black men of all ages, who all worked in different fields. We discussed many of the issues that vex the Black community today, in attempt to hear solutions and then take our solutions and put them into action.

There was a question asked by someone in the crowd that really piqued my interests. The question was, “How can we get all this information to the people?” One of the panelists then began to talk about an event that took place a few weeks earlier — the Black-owned business event at Flanner House. The panelist said this group reached out to Channels 6, 8, 13, and FOX, but none of them showed up to cover the event. Ironically, there was a shooting in the same area later that night, and the news centers were there to cover that information. What made it even worse is that they chose to attach the event to the shooting, which was totally wrong. I do believe they corrected this report.

Nevertheless, my question is: Why are we waiting on them to tell us we are doing a good job at being Black? Why do we think they are going to display us doing a great job serving our people in attempt to better ourselves? During a time when our heroes on television are Ghost (Power), Lucious Lyon (Empire), Stevie J, Joseline Hernandez, Yung Joc and Momma Dee (Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta), what makes you think mainstream television wants to see us in a positive light?

Why are we looking for that pat on the back or head from them? We wait on them to tell us we are good. We even go a step further and make their approval our goal. Look at what they do with media.  How many times have you looked and seen Dick Wolfsie (WISH-TV) somewhere covering an irrelevant Caucasian event and make it great news? The Humane Society gets more pub for a dog giveaway than Blacks do for doing positive things that have an impact on our community.

They bring balance to their world. They will not show you 50 negative stories about their culture without showing you 80 stories that show them in the positive. A large percentage of television shows them doing positive things. It is the direct opposite for how we are seen on television.

I hear a lot of people talking about Black Wall Street nowadays, but I don’t think we really understood what took place. We did not wait on them to validate us. We did not wait on them to give us anything. The Black theater helped Black actresses, actors and moviemakers because they provided a place to display their talents. We had our own venues for concerts. We had hiring power, because we had our own companies. Instead of performing at the Apollo and building it into a larger, more profitable venue, we felt more valid when performing at Carnegie Hall. We were more excited performing at the places that made us walk in the back door than at those that held the front door open for us. All of a sudden, performing at the Black venues was the chitterling circuit, and not as appealing as other venues.

So what is it that we need to do from this point forward? We need to own our own media. We need to stop running to them and seeking their approval. We need to make sure we are feeding ourselves. If you have an event, reach out to people who can cover it. This reason alone is why I started Black on Black Network (blackonblack.network). Black on Black Network is an online television and radio network. I wanted to make sure we did not have to wait on them to tell our stories. I also wanted to make sure the stories are told correctly. I also wanted to make sure people could advertise their businesses and events at a fraction of the cost of mainstream television and radio. We may not have the equipment that 6,8,13, and FOX have, but it’s yours. We may not have the facilities they have, but we have the best interests of our people. Ultimately, we help our people grow and remain authentic.

I personally believe if you have to run to the mainstream media to validate your Blackness and what you are doing to promote your people, you may just have a bigger problem, because you are truly saying that they know us better than we know ourselves.

Gregory Meriweather is the host of The Expo Show and the Chief Executive Officer of Black on Black LLC