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Speaker decries marketing of negative black images



Published: Sun, March 20, 2011 @ 8:18 p.m.

By ED RUNYAN

runyan@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Yusuf Johnson of Cleveland, a Warren native and Harding High School graduate, says life for black Americans is a lot like the 1999 movie “The Matrix,” in which everyone’s destiny is controlled by an unseen force.

Johnson told an audience at the South Side Beulah Baptist Church on Sherwood Avenue on Sunday that his eyes were opened to that force one day while walking through the Richmond Mall in suburban Cleveland and seeing a hip-hop booth with belt buckles made to look like a “gun with bling on it.”

Johnson asked the man running the booth if he would sell that same sort of merchandise in Solon or any of the areas with lower black populations, and the man asked him “Who are you?”

Also at that mall, he noticed a T-shirt for sale showing a black man wearing flashy jewelry with his finger to his lips and the words “Stop Snitchin’.”

Johnson asked the owner of that store, a Korean, whether he would allow his children to wear it, and the owner said no.

Johnson said the belt buckles and T-shirts, which he says are sold in stores and malls that cater to blacks everywhere, are like that unseen force in the Matrix.

“We don’t see it. We become accustomed to it,” Johnson said of images and clothing that reinforce images of black Americans in negative ways.

Johnson said the belt buckles opened his eyes to that force, similar to a character from “The Matrix” who took a red pill that allowed him to wake up from his ignorance.

Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on Vindy.com.


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