Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 3 No. 2 Summer 1981

and Love,” reminding us that there used to be a counterculture here, and there has always been a counterculture somewhere, all over the world and down through time, a culture available to you and me.... There are few radio shows in the whole country that can offer great music presented by people with a convincing vision of a better society, so, as Pablo puts it, “If it’s a contribution to humankind, then why not take it?” Although I have grouped them together here, each of these men is unique, with his own story standing behind his radio show. George Page has been a pro football player and has lived in Portland for many years; Pablo Innis was born and raised in Jamaica, and Art Alexander’s parents are West Indians who raised him in New Jersey and New York. What are their concerns? What motivates them and how do they see themselves? We let them answer these questions and speak to our readers directly in the interviews that follow. Art Alexander GUESS I came to Portland because of the image it has as a liberal oasis on the West Coast. From outside, people seemed to have an enlightened attitude toward things.... After a while I found out that wasn’t true.... In 1945, Portland was rated as one of the worst cities with populations over 200,000 for race relations.... The Klan had a heyday in this state, at its height in the ’20s, with noticeable activity down into the ’40s. For the Klan to have been so powerful, it means that most of the adults, the senior executives, were around when the Klan was at its height.... I question how much real change in attitude has actually occurred here. I realize this is all part of the ongoing struggle of a minority in a majority culture, and the task ol increasing consciousness and awareness, particularly in the black community but for everybody in general, is as important in Portland as it is in Atlanta.... I perceive of myself as an African, as part of the black diaspora, as an African in the West. Of course I’m an American . . . .. .but in a larger sense my ancestors are African, the culture I’m heir to is African, and it’s all there for me to claim if I want,... But it’s difficult for most black Americans to see themselves as Africans because EuroAmerica has tried to portray Africa as worthless, uncivilized, without history, art or politics.. .it’s been an enormous historical process to dissuade us from associating ourselves with Africa.... I do my radio program the way I do because I believe it’s important to increase this awareness. It’s unfortunate that it’s been a problem in the broadcasting industry that when a black person stands up and says, ‘What you’ve said about the past is not true and needs to be corrected,’ or ‘What you say is happening in our community is not true and needs to be corrected,’ his position is treated as some debatable proposal. Because I can rationally defend everything that I assert.... For example, to the black community, there is no question about whether or not there’s a problem with the police.... The Portland Black Media Coalition, then, arose from a desire among black people in all areas of media to be in touch so that we can look at certain problems in order to see how we’d like to address them collectively. For example, Affirmative Action—which many white Americans wrongly feel has deprived them of jobs—has been in effect since the ’60s, yet there aren’t more than one or two black people in management positions in Portlandarea radio and TV. This employment problem ties in with programming, because if there aren’t black people in management, then the black community is at the mercy of the level of awareness of the average white news director. And TV is full of people who are poorly educated on minority issues. For example, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights put out a document called “Window Dressing On The Set” in 1977, in The only way Iuon't have a show on KHOO is if I 9m incarcerated. / perceive of myself as an African, as part of the hlach diaspora. as an African in the West. Of course Im an American ... but in a laryer sense my ancestors are African, the culture I 9m heir to is African, and it9s all there for me to claim if I want. Art Alexander which they assessed the participation of minorities in on-air and management positions as well as the depiction of minorities, and it painted a pretty horrible picture. They updated it in ’79 and things hadn’t gotten any better. I’d bet that less than one-third of the news directors and program directors in Portland have read that report. Now I believe to a certain extent in the concept of reparations. Let me explain how that works for another problem area, coverage. Channel 8 just did a special on Albina, and Channel 6 just finished a five-part look at blacks in Oregon. People in the black community judged those shows to be pretty light-weight. The standard rejoinder to that was, ‘Everything on TV is light-weight.’ But the situation is this: You’ve got a ten-mile race, and white America has a ten-mile head start while black America’s chained at the starting gate. Then somebody says, ‘OK, OK, we’ll cut off your chains.’ So we say, ‘Well, carry us up to where you are then.’ But white America says, ‘Oh, no, start from where you are, we’re sure you’ll catch up; meanwhile, we’re going on ahead.... ’ So when they say, ‘This piece is no more lightweight than anything else we run,’ we’re forced to answer, ‘Yeah, but we have issues that are a lot more serious, and it’s not enough to focus on the black community when it’s white racism that has caused the whole problem.’ But what station is going to direct its news toward white racism?.... These programs that want to find out about the problems of the black community are a little like doing an interview with the person who’s been hit by a car and ignoring the driver of the vehicle. They don’t want to upset anybody by dealing with white racism because they’re not going to do anything to really threaten their income. Now I produce my radio show with certain things in mind. There’s a poem by Jane Cortez in which she talks about how black DJs used to play everything from Coltrane to Johnny Ace. But then they discovered they could make more money by dividing the music up and selling it in little pieces. So today, youngsters on the street can sing every word and syllable to ‘Rapper’s Delight,’ but the names Bud Powell, Clifford Brown or Charlie Parker mean nothing to them. I think that’s bad for black youth, and that’s why I’m always saying that there’s plenty of great black music. I like listeners to hear that thread running through things. On my show you can hear everything from ‘Burn Rubber With Me Baby’ by Gatt Band to ‘Night In Tunisia’ with the whole bunch from Birdland. It’s all black music, and I’m playing it for a reason. I’ve gotten good response to the Black Historical Notes as well. I’m not running them so frequently that they interrupt the flow, but I’m running them constantly because I understand the theory behind commercials: re-running stuff is important because that’s how America learns.... White America has never felt compelled to go back and find out what it has missed because of racism, and it’s been a whole hell of a lot. That’s just some of what I’m trying to make up for on the show. I’d also like to foster the awareness that we’re not just a little isolated bunch up here in Portland; we’re part of a national and international community. Georye Paye FFECTIVE THE second week of April 1970, I turned a show called “Jazz Focus” into “Jazz Rap,” and I’ve missed only about 12 shows in 11 years. Because if I don’t do it, nobody else will.... When I first started, there wasn’t any black radio in town, and there wasn’t any jazz on a regular basis. There were some jazz-oriented programs, with these white dudes playing a lot of ‘yang’ music, but there wasn’t a program that black people could listen to and hear black jazz artists played by somebody black.... You see, it’s not so much what I’m playing, it’s the way it’s being presented. 36 Clinton St. Quarterly Photographs: Above, David Milholland, below, Lynn Darroch