Whose Kool Aid Is Sweeter: T.J. Holmes The Politics of Free Will
Whose Kool Aid Is Sweeter: T.J. Holmes & The Politics of Free Will
“The only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power-and no one holds power forever.”—James Baldwin
On the surface, veteran journalist T.J. Holmes’ move from the seemingly green media pastures of CNN to the perceived programming purgatory of BET seems all kinds of crazy on an ordinary day. It’s befuddling enough for many Atlanta residents, and international audiences alike, to spill a pitcher of sweet tea hastily trading text messages, emails, facebook rants, and twitter direct messages questioning the sanity of such a defection. While the Holmes move does come as a surprise, I have learned, from direct experience, to stay clear of criticizing professional motives especially in the treacherous terrain of media where smiling supervisors can easily morph into editorial backstabbers. For me, the interpretations of Holmes’ move, couched in very antiquated theories of race pathology, and the perception that he is committing career suicide are most intriguing. The Holmes affair conjures up a weighty question: “Whose kool aid is sweeter…CNN or BET?”
Besides the brilliance of “Reed Between The Lines,” beautifully led by Malcolm Jamal Warner & Tracee Ellis Ross, BET has been a network in black face. The television entity’s dumbed down programming strings have been pulled by white gate keepers as Viacom’s ownership has threatened the very definition of what a “black network” means. So while the target audience of BET’s offspring is the souls of black folk, its parents have more in common with billionaire Warren Buffett than reality duo Frankie & Neffe. It seems as though Holmes moved on down from a deluxe apartment in the sky, but in all actuality, he merely changed floors in the same corporate condo. In closed-door meetings, CNN and BET’s upper rooms are made up of many faces you will not see at the Tom Joyner Family Reunion. To be sure, Holmes’ address may have changed but not the realities of media, whose strange career in the treatment and portrayal of a people who are darker than blue often borderlines paternalism. Let’s not forget the outrage and constant critique of media darling CNN’s “Black In America” series. And one can not ignore the consistent absence of nuanced black thought throughout ALL mainstream outlets.
Holmes is, and will be, the smart, sharp, engaging, and confrontational– in the most progressive ways possible– investigative journalist he has always been. It is the worn belief in the “white is right” mythology paralyzing black thought that leads many to believe Holmes lost cool points. Or maybe, it simply comes down to whose red kool aid you believe is sweeter.
Atlanta native Edward M. Garnes, Jr. is an award winning journalist, counselor, educator, editor, producer, and activist. He is the founder of From Afros to Shelltoes, a community based organization uniquely focused on cultural productions that bridge generation gaps between youth, elders, and the hip hop community. The Atlanta Tribune Man Of Distinction holds a B.A. in English Writing from DePauw University and a M.A. in Counseling from Michigan State University where he studied as a Competitive Fellow in Urban Counseling. Recently honored as Chozen Awards 2011 Motivator of the Year, Garnes currently serves as an Adjunct Professor in Public Speaking at Spelman College.