June 26, 2008

Media & Race

Yesterday's Union Sun & Journal and Buffalo News both covered stories about a man from Lockport who is looking for a variance to build a private club.

The first paragraph of the Union Sun & Journal piece stated "Steve Huston will appeal to the Common Council to let him to operate a business on residential Michigan Street after the zoning board said “no” for the sixth time on Tuesday."

The Buffalo News story started with "
It was a different proposal but the same old result Tuesday for Steve Huston, an African-American activist who has applied unsuccessfully several times since 1999 to open a business in a residential zone on Michigan Street."

The stories essentially say the same thing, with one exception. The writer of The Buffalo News story goes out of his way to point out the fact that the individual applying for the variance is African-American. Why is that? It is completely, unequivocally unrelated to the story.

Now, I'm not one to be wrapped up in the etiquette of being politically correct, but someone please help me to understand what on earth does the fact that this man is black have to do with anything related to the story. Is it to gain sympathy for Huston? Is it to make him out to be a victim, to insinuate that because he is black, he was denied the variance? Or is it to justify why his request was rejected?

If you read the stories, and I would encourage you to do so, there is completely legitimate rationale as to why his variance request was denied. If I was to apply for a variance and get denied, would the newspaper print that Caucasian-American blog writer David Klein was denied a variance? I don't think so. So why the double-standard? Why is it necessary for the media to repeatedly point out that someone is black?

If there is a legitimate reason, I'm all ears (or eyes in this case). I would welcome any insight to the logic associated with this. Otherwise, it seems blatantly racist to continuously refer to a group of people by the color of their skin.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Steve Huston, an African-American activist"
-Well, is he an activist FOR African-Americans, or is he an activist who happens to be African-American- A matter of semantics maybe? Or, more likely, they are just pointing out that he is African-American, which would then be politically incorrect in my mind. I'm surprised it wasn't the Union Sun doing that....

Pete M said...

We've been seeing the media play the race card for Obama all season long. Apparently it's the "in thing" to do. The blacks should be more infuriated than anyone else. They're the ones who are repeatedly being labeled by the media.

Fawn Leibowitz said...

I did a Google search for Huston, I didn't see a thing related to him being an "activist". If Prohaska is going to refer to him in that way, and he thinks it's relevant to the story, he should state how he's an activist and for what cause. Otherwise, he's just pointing out the fact that the guy is black for no reason whatsoever.

Sweaterman said...

It is unbelievable. A person is either qualified or not qualified. Race has nothing to do with it. I would offended if I was consistently labled like that.

Richard Strongbridge, Ph.D said...

What does Rod Watson think?

Clark Griswold said...

I wonder if they would have thrown in the race aspect if Huston was white....? Give me a break, Prohaska. That's so typical of not only the media around here, but in general nationally. As soon as theres a story about an African American that is having a problem with something like this, it is "clearly due to race". Rather than the fact that the person(s) may be in the wrong, not qualified for something, acting foolishly, etc. In the minds of most of the media, skin color is the only thing that matters, and they run with it. Then we have to see Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton all over MSNBC and the New York Times. Great.

Frank DeGeorge said...

I thought I had remembered from other stories that he was some sort of activitst in the African American community. Don't blame Prohaska, my friends, blame some very shoddy editing. Consider this:

1) If he is an African-American activits, it should have been spelled out why he earned that moniker. You shouldn't just assume that people will remember the story behind this guy from previous storeis. That is shoddy editing.

2) If there is a charge that somehow race played a factor in that decision, that should be called out along with a counterbalancing point of view. That's an editor's job.

3) If it is completely irrelevant fact, the editor should have cut it out of the article.

I have no pro or con feelings about Tom Prohaska, but anyone who knows anything about newspapers knows the Niagara editor must be asleep at the desk.

Larry Castellani said...

Lingering left-over language laziness the legacy of left-liberal perversions of Affirmative Action consciousness maybe?

Yes, it’s definitely an editorial problem but also a matter of the reporter just not being straight with us. He seems possibly to be playing on the residues of white guilt. To what end God knows.

With respect to what I see as the big issue behind the scenes here, from a Neo-populist Federalist point of view, in principal a community should be able to select its members even on the basis of race, if in fact race reflects the determinative values of that community. But there’s a difference between racialism and racism. I personally am neither a racialist nor racist, but I would defend racialism in principle. In like manner even though I am not anti-gay, I think a community has the right to exclude gays in principle. But the catch is that from this theoretical standpoint a community must declare their preference legally or as a matter of Doctrine.

So the just racialist or fundamentalist anti-gay Christian thing to do is to codify what constitutes their community and what doesn’t. I’m sure somebody is going to accuse me of racism and sexism but only because they miss the point. My political point and claim is that community is the sanctified basis of human political life and should not succumb to the homogenizing strategies of Universal Human Rights theory nor the preferences of Liberal Democracy’s abstract mass democratic Man.

Anonymous said...

Prohaska is a sensationalist, he’s lost his prospective – in fact, I believe he starting to be more blatant about his agenda – he takes sides. I think he has forgotten from where he once came.

fat tony said...

I don't think Tom has an agenda. I think he has a shitty beat that doesn't produce anything all that interesting. To some degree, that's an indictment on the lack of anything even remotely relevant that our electeds are doing.

Anonymous said...

Did everyone miss the 4th paragraph in Prohaska's story? Huston is the one who brought the issue of race into the story...

Huston, who has blamed previous rejections of the proposal on racism, told reporters after the meeting, “I don’t want to sound always negative, but when are we going to get a break?”

Pointing out that Huston is black is something he himself raised.

Reading comprehension people - check it out.

Anonymous said...

Fourth and fifth graphs of the US&J story follow.
Did anyone here actually read the stories? Or do you all just like to pile on?

The public hearing on Huston’s latest request took on a familiar tone as zoning commissioners again sought to encourage Huston to develop housing — and Huston again accused the board of having a built-in bias against him and the black community.

“Any time we try to add any kind of structure, you knock it down,” he complained. “You keep looking for reasons to turn me down. Your minds are already made up.”

Anonymous said...

Hobbes:

Any truth to the rumor I read former Mayor of East Aurora Dave DiPietro is being arrainded on harassment charges being filed on him by a woman? If this is true how to these individuals think they can win election and run a governmenrt with this type of character & past? Secondly, how does his wife stand by him?

Hobbes said...

I actually have heard that there is a pending harassment charge against him. Hopefully more details will follow.

Anonymous said...

i noticed they mentioned his race too and i was expecting the guy to be quoted saying he thought they were being racist, but he didn't. maybe covering it the reporter sensed racial tension, but it really didn't come out in the story. the reporter said the guy said previous proposals were rejected because of racism, but that kind of makes me wonder if he was asked specifically and said 'sure.' maybe there were past articles with the race theme that i missed?