"My Words Have Power"


The Powerful Media Can Be Misunderstood

by: Nicole Kim Phillips

Death does not erase the value of someones words.  There is still wisdom left behind, that can offer new perspectives, ideas.  Comedian Richard Pryor said, we should all visit Africa.  He called it the Motherland.  There are words and sounds that will sometimes take us back to an experience.  It's the reason music is a powerful past time.  It felt like I traveled back in time, when I sat down to write, and recalled my days as a Crew Member,at Burger King, I realized how selective the media can be.  I also accepted that airing on the side of bias, can be misunderstood, depending on perspective, outlook or upbringing.  One of the Managers at Burger Kinng was from Africa and he helped me, an uneducated, 17 year old, see the light, by making this  statement. "The media only shows certain images, when it comes to Africa, but there is beauty everywhere in my country".  Then, he showed numerous images, including his family.  This particular Manager was attending College and I heeded his words.  Finishing College and earning a degree did not make me see, I was enlightened upon hearing his words.  What I knew was, the media would show Africans in the most vulnerable and impoverished conditions.  Mostly, they were filmed appearing half naked and flies would be lighting on them.  I tried to recall, if I had ever seen news about any other Africans in a different environment or setting.  I had not, and my Manager was the only one I had met in New Orleans in a different capacity.  

A broader focus helped me to see bias from the perspective of someone of means.  The wealthy or rich often look for ways to help others through their philanthropy.  There are various ways to encourage those efforts.  In no way am I insinuating, the wealthy need to be encouraged to donate.  What I am saying is, video footage and imagery of people, in unfortunate circumstances, can encourage the rich to be more generous in the causes they support.  Being 17, the limited view I had was mosty about me and lack of growth.  I couldn't see past myself, my condition or lifestyle to understand this at 17.  However, the media was in the 80's and still today, a powerful entity.  Unlike today, Social Media did not exist back then, and tv and billboards were all we had to depend on.  Therefore, bias toward showing a need within or outside of U.S borders is something I now see as reasonable.  At 17, my perspective was narrow coming from a poor, working class community and having a limited world view, with very few experiences, outside of my own community.  Though, attending Warren Easton as a Freshman, my travels for Summer Visits to my Grandparents Home and my Daddy's Home, exposed me to new people and places that enriched my life and outlook, I still could not process what I now understand is empathy.  Being 17, the limited view I had was mostly about me and lack of growth.  My upbringing required me to be open-minded.  Having a Mother who encouraged studying and learning with accuracy, often meant opening my hands to a wooden paddle.  She would say, when I was in school, the Nuns used a similar paddle for discipline.  What's important to understand is, many variables can affect the way we view life, the world and the people in it.  I'm not sure if you will put Africa on your bucket list of travel destinations. What I am sure of is, whether in a far away land like Africa or within our borders, being able to empathize and understand agendas outside of our own, can help us to be more well rounded people.  Finally, what is shown on the news will be like a grain of sand, if you think right and not allow...

I am an Author of a Children's Book entitled: "Visiting Granny In Mississippi" (Read my Book Summary)