Friday, August 27, 2010

Black Leadership in the Digital Age: Rise Above the Noise - Part 1

Black Leadership in the Digital Age: Rise Above the Noise – Part 1

By, Shani Byard-Ngunjiri, M.S.

I always say, “American media has replaced the traditional role of the African elder – as village leader, value shaper, educator.” This process of substitution began from the time our ancestors were stolen from Africa, enslaved in America, and is sustained today as we currently survive as African Americans in a media saturated society. Media is defined as multiple means of communication. It has been used as a tool to oppress and enslave African Americans for centuries. Multiple forms of media – images, language, printed materials, tone, lighting, TV, film, and public displays of violence, rape, murder – were used to successfully strip away all values, language, spiritual, social and economic practices in our indigenous African culture. In the Digital Age, African Americans are still heavily influenced by the media. Messages from the media inform our relationships, eating habits, sexual practices, purchasing power, and how we perceive our potential for success and community advancement. Because of this, African Americans have the highest representation in foster care, gang violence, suicide, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cancer, AIDS, media/entertainment and beauty/hair product consumerism and use, and high school/college dropout and incarceration rates. Media literacy provides a means to counter media influence. Becoming media literate is one of three components needed for successful Black Leadership in the Digital Age. Media literacy, from an African-centered perspective, has the potential to attain the mental liberation we’ve needed in the Black community for centuries. Rise Above the Noise refers to the impact of media literacy and the ability to rise above oppressive media tools, messages and influence driving America’s dominating culture. Becoming more aware of media influence, cultivating the skill to critically analyze media messages, co-constructing authentic media messages, are all critical to media literacy. Interested in becoming media literate? Email me and stay tuned for part two…