Attorney, Jeff Hassan is Executive Director to the African American Leadership Forum. The mission of AALF’s Executive Director is to create full employment, build wealth, close the achievement gap, affect legislative policy and promote healthy living in the Twin Cities African American Community. To accomplish these tasks, Mr. Hassan must first address an age old issue that affect the thought process of every day Minnesotans, especially those who read the Star Tribune. These thought processes could very well inadvertently affect legislation and funding crucial to change necessary in the African American community. As a father is to his child and as a leader is to his tribe —Mr. Hassan is the Alpha Male, and he is very protective of African American leaders and passionately demonstrates this in his open letter to the Star Tribune today.
His letter was in response to what can clearly be described as inappropriate and subpar reporting by a supposedly well respected media outlet. Simply put, the Star Tribune is up to their old tricks again.
I had only one issue with Mr. Hassan’s open letter. The often one-sided view of the STRIB is not just against black leaders, but the STRIB lacks optimism or hope for the African American community as a whole. This has been reflected in articles for many years. Even when reporting national news, the STRIB’s vantage point carries an overly negative tone.
Excerpts from Mr. Hassan’s letter:
“In a series of sustained and unreleneting attacks, the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper has declared an Open season on Black Leaders” “Beginning with a series of articles appearing last fall (2014) against African American Senators, Bobby Joe Champion and Jeff Hayden, the newspaper has engaged in a non-stop series of character attacks, questioning the integrity and credibility of long-established African American leaders,” “A recurrent theme in each of the articles, if read closely, is the undercurrent of references to Senators Champion and Hayden, and their role in either lobbying for or passing legislation to fund African American organizations or initiatives.”
“….in each and every instance, what these organizations have been called upon to do, is to repair the damage done by the failings of our public and private institutions.”
“To date, in none of the articles published by the StarTribune, has there been any proof of wrongdoing or impropriety by any of these leaders. In the cases of Senators Champion and Hayden, there has been no proof of wrongdoing despite repeated Republican-led, politically motivated, legislative hearings, during which numerous witnesses have been called to testify. Despite the lack of evidence, the drum beat goes on, putting forth nothing more than a series of hearsay allegations and innuendos, all of which have the obvious intent of damaging the character and reputation of Senators Champion and Hayden.”
“The most recent article appearing on Monday, April 13, 2015 is entitled,“Minneapolis Urban League accused of potential double billing,” casts aspersions upon the Minneapolis Urban League and its CEO & President Scott Gray concerning its educational programs the 13th Grade and Urban League Academy. The fact that they’ve been successful in obtaining funding for African American legacy organizations and the children and adults they have successfully served for decades, has now come under fire and become the source of front page news”
Reading Mr. Hassan’s letter took me back to 2009, this all felt very familiar. Why? I too had written a few years ago to the Star Tribune about the lack of accountability or good reporting when black folk are referenced. Truth is this is really nothing new; their reporting is often one-sided when it comes to the black community in general.
I quickly searched through old flash drives to refresh my memory and found what I was looking for. There it was, in black and white (no pun intended), “Don’t accept racial profiling as a simple fact.” In 2009 the STRIB published an article written by Katherine Kersten about Louis Gate’s run-in with a police officer. In her article, she defended why he was roughed up by police in his home. Ms. Kersten quickly shifted her rant from Mr. Gates to the murder rate by black men. She stated that blacks were responsible for much of the crime in the US and in Minnesota, “Here in Minneapolis 64% of those arrested in 2008 for serious crimes and murder were perpetrated by blacks though blacks are only about 18% of the population”.
I have a background in Corrections, so this information didn’t sit well with me. I was appalled, and began my own investigative report. With little effort, I found that Ms. Kersten had presented shabby numbers. After a simple Google search the Minnesota Bureau of apprehension’s annual statistical report from 2007 fell right into my lap. The statistics found that in 2007 there were 125 murders in Minneapolis, of those, 44 were committed by whites, 53 were committed by blacks, and 5 by Native Americans, 6 Asian, 17 were unknown. These statistics were in stark contrast to what the STRIB had allowed to be printed. I sent these statistics to the STRIB, and did not receive a response back, nor was my rebuttal printed.
Just think — if Ms. Kersten had gotten to the core of what has really been happening all along with the issue between police and black men, there’s a great possibility we wouldn’t be here now. If you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem. We simply can’t depend on unethical news reporting to guide us into a healthy society full of hope and unity. Good reporting requires objectivity, which seems to be lacking whenever the Star Tribune’s subject matter is….black folk.
Mr. Hassan finalized his letter as any leader would, with courage, integrity, and facts that steer toward real change.
Kudos to Jeffrey Hassan!
Jeffrey Hassan’s full letter can be found at:http://aalf.us/blog/startribune-declares-open-season-on-black-leaders
De’Vonna Bentley-Pittman is an author, blogger, and an Advocate for Healthy Sexuality. She envisions a world where we are all encouraged to participate in the design of our changing world.
-“Truth equals Freedom”