By Jerry Karp
The opportunities and problems of minorities in the field of communications was discussed last night by five black media representatives at the School of Fine Arts. The predominantly black audience of about 50 took an active part in the conversation.
The forum was kicked off by Billy Wilson, who is connected with the Dance Theater of Boston and is currently the choreographer of the television show Zoom. Wilson introduced four dancers from the Dance Theater who performed excerpts from a dance piece entitled “Black Light.” The piece is based on a song by Billy Taylor, “A Matter of Pride,” and is, according to Wilson, “about the joy of being black.”
Jacque Adams, a reporter for WNAC Television’s Black News said “There is not a lot of difference between black and white because people tend to forget whether I’m black or not, and discriminate against me on the basis of the fad that I’m a woman.”
‘”In other ways being Black has been an asset” she said. “When you’re black, you have to be superior in order to be equal. I have concentrated my whole life on being superior.”
Wes Williams, a cameraman for Black News, answered a question about prejudice saying “The people I deal with are usually used to working with the media. They need you as much as you need them, and they put that above their prejudice. If I met them on the street later on, it might be a different story.”
Williams stressed the need for a black to show that he is as good if not better than anyone else at his job. “Once you get that across,” he said, “you usually have no trouble.”
“I’ve never felt any out-and-out discrimination,” he said. “There is obviously prejudice, because there are no black people in any major policy making positions in the various media,” he added.
Williams said he was “One of those lucky blacks who benefited from the death of Martin Luther King.” After King’s death, according to Williams, the Federal Communications Commission suggested that stations hire black employees proportionate to the black percentage of their audience. Because of this, Williams said, they have to be model employees to avoid the feeling that they got their jobs because they are black, while some white person might have to go through hell to get the same job.
As a black at the station, I have to walk a tight rope as far as the rules go,” Williams said. “I can’t do some things that my white colleagues can do.”
After the formal discussion, Williams explains this statement, saying, “There are many things in society that you can be ousted for, like jay walking and spitting, but usually aren’t. At a station, a black employee can get fired for minor deviations from the rules, while a white can usually get away with them.”
Billy Wilson added, ‘It’s folly to believe that you can get the same job as any white. You have got to be better to get a job, there’s no two ways about it.” He said, “I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I think that theres no difference.”
Toni Lewis, from WCAS Television’s “Black Experience in Cambridge,” “I never felt the need for superiority, but I always had the idea impressed upon me that I had to work as hard as possible just to get to the point where I was equal with everyone else.”