Culture

Hip-Hop Change Agent Soledad O’Brien in the Hamptons

Tue., Aug. 14, 2012 5:04 PM EDT
by Munson Steed
Munson Steed, Christina Steed and Soledad O'Brien

Steed Media CEO Munson Steed, with wife Christina and Soledad O'Brien

Soledad O’Brien has addressed many issues that speak to the calamities faced by African Americans. The CNN correspondent journeyed from the tsunami to Hurricane Katrina you see, and put a spotlight on wave after wave of that despair and that misery. She communicated as only she can — the heartbreak, the joy, the tears and the pain.

She brings the issues of African Americans to the forefront and her comprehensive reporting on “Black in America” keeps the dialogue alive, and that in and of itself is a monumental accomplishment. The eloquence with which she speaks and the cadence of her speech — it’s that confident delivery and fair reporting that keeps us watching.

The humanity of this celebrated woman is demonstrated in her reports on Gabby Douglas, who is phenomenal in her own right. The similarities between the two are obvious in that both have come front and center on the world stage, and both have galvanized the community in amazing ways. O’Brien has done work in the community and on behalf of its citizens that might warrant — or is at least worthy of a Nobel Prize.

What we hoped to see someone express, O’Brien does with aplomb and finesse — that is real success. But we unfortunately, all too often celebrate and glorify negative images that detract from the goal and the ideals we profess. How do we extricate ourselves from the valley of negativity, and keep from being mired in destructive images and that portrayal?

But Soledad O’Brien stays on point. I attended one of her fundraisers in the Hamptons this summer, when she introduced young women, her mentees from New Orleans, Los Angeles and other urban centers across the country who eloquently exchanged ideas and shared tear-jerking stories about their lives and their communities. Also present were celebrity and corporate activists, like media mogul Russell Simmons, Greg Cunningham and Dwayne Maddox of American Family, as well as representatives from the retail giant, Target — all there to support O’Brien and do their part to effect social change.

And the death toll continues to rise in Chicago. Pharell, who sits on the board of the Soledad O’Brien and Brad Raymond Foundation, and all of the many celebrities who attended the event in the Hamptons, helped change the lay of the land that day. I applaud Soledad for making the location in that lavish setting a launching place for social activism and community advocacy.

We all need to ensure that our Twitter handles and our Facebook pages are making a difference, and are not just the utterances of noise and negativity. Use your access and credibility to make others aware of what is happening in minority communities each and every day. Articulate your thoughts and make all aware of the pain, the indignities and the profundity of the despair. Readers will remember those images and reflect on how things did and did not go.

We are a great people and we will develop strategies for how to overcome the ravages of discrimination and the humiliation of being ignored. We need someone like O’Brien who understands what it is to be respected and attached to the dignity that we work for every day.

Support the work of O’Brien and her foundation. She is a social defender, and a guardian of images today — don’t allow our egos to get in the way of progress.

Take the time to comment and share about how you are making a difference, by posting the good and positive images of change and transition in your community.

Soledad, we are proud of you. Continue to give this community dignity.

 

Peace.

Munson Steed

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