Does media exposure equal greatest?

Author:Hilton, Keith Orlando
Position:Letters - Letter to the Editor

Precise leadership profiles are more important and lasting than actual leaders and prominent media-made personalities. This point was even more apparent while reading your August/September 2004 issue cover story, "100 Greatest Africans of All Time".

As an African-American (professor, journalist and researcher), I was deeply moved and proud to see that so many Africans in the Diaspora were recognised in your excellent magazine. Now I have additional proof to wave in the faces of those who try to divide Continental Africans from those of us in the Diaspora.

Granted you did not say, "... greatest leaders ...", however I do feel the need to comment that we sometimes mistake leaders with prominent media-made personalities, and then allow this to overlap into "greatest". But does media exposure equal greatest?

Donald Bogle, the African-American media scholar, has noted that there are five major black stereotypes used every day in the US media, and in particular in the cinema: toms, coons, mulattoes, mammies and bucks. All of these are derogatory and encouraged by white viewers, producers, filmmakers and media moguls, not caring about what is in the best interest of Africa or Africa's image.

African-Americans, on the other hand, often look at black media roles, images and performances through a different lens, a lens...

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