Turn Off “The News”.1: Black Power Media on Paul Robeson

I’m starting a new series of posts here to express appreciation for and link to pieces published online by some of my favorite sources of news, information and analysis. The title refers to the difference between these sources and what is conventionally understood as “The News,” ie, mainstream outlets like NPR and the New York Times, CNN or Fox, MSNBC or CBS>NBC<ABC etc., and PBS Newshour as well. All of the former outlets take funding from sources that, in my opinion, corrupt and distort the content that they are presenting.

Today I’m linking to a piece by Black Power Media, whose YouTube channel I recommend as worthy of your time and attention. It’s a presentation by Dr. Jared Ball, one of my favorite authors and media analysts. It’s about Paul Robeson, the great actor, singer, scholar and athlete and radical activist. You’ll hear Dr. Ball articulate his belief that mainstream media, marketing and entertainment are forms of psychological warfare designed to conscript its audiences into supporting imperialism and racism. You’ll also hear him present his argument about internal colonialism theory, which holds that black communities are subject to regular practices of wealth extraction that are more commonly understood to be applied to external colonies. As an example, he talks about how hip hop produces 40 to 50 billion dollars of wealth annually, yet the South Bronx neighborhood from which it came is materially worse off than it was in 1970.

Dr. Ball talks about figures like Kanye, Jay-Z and Snoop as logical outcomes of the Nixon administration’s successful move to redefine black power as black capitalism, rather than the kind of black power envisioned by figures like Kwame Ture or the Black Panther Party. A contrast is drawn with the way that their careers are promoted by media conglomerates and the way that Paul Robeson’s career was destroyed because of his political critique of western imperialism and capitalism, and because of his advocacy of socialist causes. Ball also interview’s one of Robeson’s biographers, Gerald Horne, on a separate video you can find here as part of The Hague’s International Symposium on Paul Robeson as Artist and Revolutionary. I’ve read Horne’s biography, and highly recommend that too.

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