The Root Of The Problem Is “The Root”


Raynard Jackson

In agriculture, if the root of the plant goes bad, so goes the rest of the plant.  Above the ground, the plant may be very beautiful, but internally it is dying.

This reminds me of “The Root” online magazine (www.theroot.com).  According to their website:  “The Root is a daily online magazine that provides thought-provoking commentary on today’s news from a variety of black perspectives.”  They are owned and published by the Washington Post Newsweek Interactive.

The Root was launched on January 28th, 2008.  According to media accounts, “The Root” was created by Donald Graham, Chairman of The Washington Post Company and Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Gates went on to say, “it will feature penetrating, lively commentary on political, social and cultural issues, and will showcase the breadth and depth of viewpoints currently shaping black culture.”

Lynette Clemetson, one of the original editors, was quoted in several newspaper articles, “The Root’ resists the notion that there is–or ever was–such a thing as a monolithic black community. The Web site will be a forum for true conversation, celebrating the rich mix of voices, issues and points of view that bring nuance and complexity to the black experience. And while the site is committed to topics of special interest to blacks, it is a destination for anyone interested in the dynamic link between history and our collective future.”

Oh, really?  Would to God that Gates and Clemetson really meant what they said above.  “The Root” was founded by liberals/Democrats (Donald Graham and the Washington Post are well known for their very liberal slant; and Gates comes from the same mold.).  Neither the founding management nor the current management has any known conservatives/Republicans in its employ.

“The Root” has done the same thing that Blacks have so often accused whites of doing—putting all liberals in management, but printing a few editorials from conservative/Republicans who are Black.  Then they say, “see, we have diversity!”

But everyone in news knows that the power lies with the editors (executive, managing, assignment), not with the writers.  These editors not only decide what subjects are written about, but also, how the final story is presented to the public.  So, if the management all comes from the same bias, where is the diversity of thought and opinion?

So Mr. Gates states, “it [The Root] will feature penetrating, lively commentary on political, social and cultural issues, and will showcase the breadth and depth of viewpoints currently shaping black culture.”  Is this what he had in mind when he and management created a section with the title, “The Blackest White Folks We Know” (http://www.theroot.com/multimedia/blackest-white-folks-we-know)?  Are you kidding me?  Is this Gates’ definition of “penetrating’?  I am thoroughly embarrassed that an esteemed academic like Gates would perpetuate the foolishness that we have accused whites of doing.  What next?  The “Whitest Black Man?”

According to Ms. Clemetson, “The Root’ resists the notion that there is–or ever was–such a thing as a monolithic black community.”  Is this what management had in mind when they created a section with the title, “The Black Folks We’d Remove From Black History?” (http://www.theroot.com/multimedia/black-folks-wed-remove-black-history).  Who is the “we?” Who decided who would be on the list and who wouldn’t?  I find their comments about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas reprehensible.

The most painful thing is that these two sections are in the top three sections visited on the site.  Am I the only one that is embarrassed by this section of the site?  Am I the only one who is willing to publically criticize management for this hypocrisy?

Remember, these sections are not in the opinion section.   This content is solely that of management.  It is quite obvious that management is very liberal in its bias.

How can we, in the Black community, complain about how others portray us and then we do the same thing we have accused them of doing—namely, using the basest of all stereotypes, stymie content that management disagrees with, and have absolutely no diversity within management.  Shouldn’t Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton demand diversity from the Washington Post?  When will they begin the picketing?

The site looks good, it’s very appealing to the eye, and does have some very good articles and commentary.  But, like dying vegetation, when you begin to look at the roots, you find “The Root” is the problem.

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com) & U.S. Africa Magazine (www.usafricaonline.com).

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One Response to “The Root Of The Problem Is “The Root””

  1. I understand truth and fairness not being superman, but I’ve also been taught because of rhetoric and actions from a more determined self indulging source, to not be afraid to let the chips fall in favor of my people every once and a while.

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