Amos Brown's response to critics

Dateline: Wed 12 Sep 2007

I first met Amos Brown when he came to the Star in the late 1980s or early 1990s. A study had been made of black demographics in the city; Brown wanted to share the findings with editors of the paper and help us understand the black community, its issues, loyalties, etc.

Brown has continued in this role over many years in the public eye. That does not mean he is always right, or that life in Indy has not changed, and changed dramatically, in many regards.

However, Brown, I know, is sincere in his efforts to get a message across. He took offense at a posting here about blacks and the NFL and the entertainment lineup last week; he took offense that I used Indiana Minority Report's explanation of an exchange and then commented on it.

Here is what Brown has to say -- lengthy, but pleas read.

"Normally I don't respond to the normal, ritual inaccuracies in the Indiana Minority Report blog. However, when I saw that your blog repeated the false accusations without question and without asking to hear the other side of the story, I felt compelled to respond and I appreciate the >opportunity.

>

>

>

> "To be described as a "Black Don Imus" in connection with a verbal exchange last Wednesday between hip-hop entertainer Keyshia Cole and I is a complete misrepresentation and slanting of the facts.

>>

>

> "Don Imus was a "shock talk host" who regularly used blue and off color language in his now defunct radio and cable programs. The world knows Imus' use of that two letter sexist epithet against the Rutgers Women's Basketball team.

>

>

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> "Unlike Imus, at no time did I call Keyshia Cole out of her name, or use

> inappropriate language. In fact, I was most respectful to her and listened to her point of view. Even though she wasn't informed of what the true issues were.

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>

>

> "Ruth, as you know alternative media in this country plays the role of

> speaking truth to power. That is a role African-American media have played from the earliest Black newspapers in the 18th Century till today. Black> media - especially newspapers and radio - have spoken truth to power posing questions and issues the powerful and comfortable don't want to hear. That is the issue here.

> >

>

> "For many years free festivals held on the city's front porch, Monument

> Circle, have included all types of entertainment. Those festivals have

> welcomed the city's different communities with open arms. From Circle

> Fest, to the old Midsummer festival, to Circle of Lights, even last

> April's Coke Fest during the Final Four, entertainment has included R and B and other Black entertainers - either local, regional or national.

> >

>

> "Ruth I hope you appreciate that while all of Indianapolis is proud of our Super Bowl champion Colts, the pride is even stronger in the

> African-American community. The living history that was made with Tony

> Dungy becoming the first coach of color to participate win a Super Bowl is a point of pride, not just to the entire city, but to my community.

>

>

>

> "So, when the word went out that there would be a free concert on the

> Circle to celebrate the Colts win, our community and I naturally thought

> the entertainment line-up would include Black entertainers.

>

>

>

> "When it didn't, my producer called the NFL and we did a live interview

> with spokesman Brian McCarthy who said that the NFL 'couldn't find any

> Black entertainers who even wanted to appear or who were available'. That struck me and many in our community as odd. Between the resources of > Indiana Black Expo, or the city's top Black concert promoters, or my

> company Radio One, the largest Black broadcaster in the country, we know

> we could have found suitable entertainment for the NFL. We might have been willing to help - if we had been asked. In that same interview, Brian > McCarthy hinted that the league hadn't selected the act that would sing > the National Anthem but he left the impression that the act would be

> Black.

>

>

>

> "I then wondered if Black-owned businesses were being utilized. I e-mailed on record questions to Mr. McCarthy, asking if the NFL was utilizing any Black-owned businesses in Kickoff concert and events. Indianapolis has a number of quality Black-owned businesses who have a proven track record and ability. These include caterers, limousine and transportation companies, attorneys, security firms, insurance companies and the like.

> McCarthy's response - no Black-owned businesses were utilized.

>

>

>

> Ruth, over the years major institutions have opened their doors and

> invited African-Americans to patronize their institutions, even if the

> events didn't include "black-oriented" fare. For example, right now the

> Indianapolis Museum of Art is using Black media to invite my community to check out the big Roman art exhibit. Other such examples exist. Yet, the NFL refused to advertise the Kickoff concert through the city's Black

> media. Thousands of dollars were spent on radio and TV ads, not a penny

> spent with Black media.

> >

>

> "My listeners were raising questions of whether Blacks were welcomed

> downtown. Why were Blacks seemingly excluded? The community knew Keyshia

> Cole has been chosen to sing the National Anthem, but unless you had

> tickets are knew a scalper, most Blacks couldn't get to the game.

>

>

>

> "Oh, Keyshia Cole wasn't the NFL's first choice. In an interview last

> Tuesday the director of that great youth choir from Ft. Wayne who

> accompanied Ms. Cole, dropped the dime that Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson was the NFL's first choice. But she backed out, for unclear reasons.

>

>

>

> "With all the concern and controversy in my community, I decided to take

> our radio program live last Wednesday to the ArtsGarden, the site of the

> NFL's press conference. The NFL never informed media of the contents of

> the press conference or who would be involved. I decided to go because I

> knew an NFL rep would be there and I wanted to confront the NFL with this issue, in public, on the record, on the air, and let my community hear - unedited - the league's response. Obviously, the league knew I would be there. And I must assume they knew there would be a negative question.

>

>

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> "We didn't know the artists involved in the concert and Ms. Cole would be in the press conference until fifteen minutes before and then even then we weren't sure. When it came time to ask my question, it was directed squarely at Brian McCarthy who was the chief league flack here.

>

>

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> "In my question, I recounted the hurt and upset of my community over the

> lack of Black entertainers in the free Circle concert and that the league hadn't used any Black-owned businesses. I reminded that the NFL had "not involved or engaged" the Black community. I reminded McCarthy of the > NFL's minority inclusion policies and program used for the Super Bowls and Pro Bowl. And I simply asked if the NFL would commit "today" to the same minority participation plan they use for their other big events for future NFL Kickoffs.

>

>

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> "McCarthy danced around the question, wouldn't answer it. Didn't deny that the NFL had not used any Black-owned businesses. When McCarthy wasn't responsive, I did what you and other great journalists have done over the years, I pressed for an answer. He didn't, cutting me off and asking for the next question.

>

>

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> "That is when Keyshia Cole entered the conversation. As she said her piece I listened and addressed her with respectful "Yes Ma'ams". At no time at the press conference did I show Ms. Cole any disrespect towards her. I should say, Ms. Cole couldn't hear what I was saying to her because she had the house microphone. However, my radio listeners clearly heard what I said to her and the tone of my comments to her.

>

>

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> "Now after we aired the exchanged - unedited - on our radio program an hour later, I did tell my audience that Keyshia Cole had been asked by our

> sister radio station WHHH/Hot 96-3 which plays her music for an interview.

> The NFL and her representatives turned them down flat.

>

>

>

> "I should also tell you Ruth that when our stations first learned Keyshia Cole was coming to sing, our WHHH Operation Manager repeatedly talked to her record company about working something out that would have gotten Ms. Cole involved with our Hot 96-3 audience and allowed them to hear from her. But the NFL wouldn't allow her schedule flexibility to do that. As late as 18 hours before she arrived in town, Hot 96-3 was still trying to secure an interview - but no NFL cooperation.

>

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> "Ruth, I apologize for the lengthy response, but sometime the truth and the facts can't be distilled into a single attack headline in a blog (not

> yours) dedicated to innuendo and character assassination rather a

> discussion of the many issues affecting our community.

>

>

> "So, that you can hear the exchange in its entirety and context, I'm

> attaching the segment of our Wednesday, September 5, 2007 broadcast that

> contains the entire unedited exchange with the NFL and with Keyshia Cole's comments. The audio is provided for you to quote from and/or describe in writing.

>

>

> "I must ask that the audio not be placed on your website as the audio is

> Copyright ©2007 Radio One, Inc.

>

>

>

> "Finally, your headline that I am in "hot water again" is not worthy of

> you. The only "hot water" I'm in is when I step into my shower. I

> certainly am not in hot water with my employer, my listeners and my

> community. I know I'm in "hot water" with the NFL, but given their

> maltreatment of my community, that's a badge of honor."

Thanks, Amos. More to come...

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