As we start a new year, as Publisher of Black Westchester (BW), I want to thank all our supporters for supporting our publication, website and radio show. It is not an easy task informing the people, but it is something that is overdue in our communities, and we are truly blessed to have this opportunity to serve the people. What is unfortunate we are better received in our communities than those who claim to lead our communities.
Whether you’re a Party Chairman, Community Leader or a few Black Elected Officials, it seems in the age of Black politics in Westchester County, there is still a need for a pure Democracy that is dependent on an informed electorate. In many cases, Black people are the least knowledgeable when it comes to the political process and how it affects their community. One of BW’s missions is to make sure the public is well versed in the issues in their community, and how many of these issues, good or bad can be used as a guide to how they see themselves in the political process in their communities.
As Publisher of BW, I have explained many times that The Media is The Fourth Estate, the Fourth Power or is considered the fourth pillar of the state all over the world. We take being a source of information for the people seriously. People look to media for the answers; it is not our job to provide the solutions, but to ask the hard questions and present the public with the facts so the public can have informed debates and make informed decisions.
It is also our job to especially hold our Black politicians or those elected officials that govern over predominant Black districts to a level of accountability to their electorate because these neighborhoods are suffering the most.
The University of San Francisco describes media as the “Fourth Estate.”
Access to information is essential to the health of democracy for at least two reasons. First, it ensures that citizens make responsible, informed choices rather than acting out of ignorance or misinformation. Second, information serves a “checking function” by ensuring that elected representatives uphold their oaths of office and carry out the wishes of those who have elected them to office. Mount Vernon Mayor Richard W. Thomas and his brother, failed Council Candidate, Steven Butch Thomas have publicly referenced to BW as “Fake News” because of their disagreement of the positions that BW has taken in the past. The point of the 1st Amendment is to make sure that the government does not overreach itself by trying to limit the fundamental rights of the people, such as their right to speak freely, including their right to criticize the government. The government does not grant that right. It already exists, no matter what the government might say or do.
The 1st Amendment states the consequence of that fact: Congress cannot limit freedom of speech. The Constitution recognizes the press’ sovereignty as fundamental and prevents the government from infringing on it.
Instead of understanding these constitutional fundamentals, many Black politicians or so-called leaders revert to ignorant Trump-style tactics of name-calling that does not solve the pressing problems in our communities. Independent media like Black Westchester Magazine have become more than a mere institution; instead, the independent media acts as a direct participant in the traditional three-branch system of governance.
The Founders attributed this function to the press alone, elevating the institution to a particular position within the democratic process. One of the fundamental responsibilities assigned to the media was a duty to inform citizens about government and public issues; without adequate information, the public would be unable to exercise its sovereign powers.
Further, the First Amendment’s protection for the freedom of the press intended to curtail and restrict the general powers granted to the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches. Given that no branch under the Constitution could infringe upon the rights of the press under the First Amendment, the Founders revealed their desire that the media should possess a critical role in the new American democracy.
What many Elected Officials and appointees fail to realize is that independent media serves a fundamental role in making democracies run efficiently, even though there are frequently clashes. Autonomous media system thus often “reflects the political philosophy in which it functions, one that cannot be disregarded as a trivial player in the responsibilities in being the checks and balance in the political process in the Black Community.
BW stands firm on its Constitutional right to hold Elected Officials and government appointees accountable. We will not cower to Elected Officials even in the face of retaliation or threats.
In 2017, many residents had witnessed the outlandish responses of representatives of the Thomas Administration when we ask the question, is his Deputy Police Commissioner Illegitimate? Deputy Police Commissioner Spiezio went on a Facebook tirade attacking Black Westchester, in addition to his attacks against me in particular but failed to address his legitimacy as Deputy Police Commissioner of MVPD. Mayor Thomas and Spiezio even launched a feeble attempt to retaliate against me by trying to fire my wife, who is a Mount Vernon Police Detective, all to retaliate against me, to keep me quiet and stop Black Westchester from reporting the buffoonery in Mount Vernon City Hall. As you can see, that didn’t work!
Even Councilwoman Lisa Copeland has publicly spoken negatively about BW because of an editorial about her colleague Councilman Marcus Griffith. The Mt. Vernon Democratic Party voted to ban campaign advertising from BW because they didn’t like our articles. These are Black people trying to punish Black Media for telling the truth about Black community issues that they are in direct control of.
This is how Black people genuinely treat each other! This same group of so-called Democratic Black leaders and Elected Officials do not protest or refuse an interview by News 12, the Journal News, Patch, Yonkers Voice, Yonkers Tribune, the Daily Voice, the Mount Vernon Enquirer or any other media counterparts, who are mostly white-owned. It is a concentrated effort to isolate BW, the only Black owned and operated media source, with the exception of The County Press. But that fact of the matter; they are separating themselves and showing their real hypocrisy. Regardless of their issue with us, our doors are always open.
Myself, Editor-In-Chief, AJ Woodson or any writer, reporter or representative of Black Westchester will not be bullied by anyone when reporting the news that affects the everyday resident, especially those in the Black community.
As a result of Black Westchester’s coverage, there has been an increased public awareness of the actions of Elected Officials and their decisions and how those decisions affect ordinary citizens. We understand the role that we play in open communication, especially about democratic politics and the political process.
Black Westchester is also proud to stand and make our presence known as we are looked at by the community we serve as a watchdog of government abuses. Under a traditional watchdog role, Black Westchester “keeps the government accountable for its actions or inactions and what role their decisions play in the democratic system” by informing the public through this reporting.
It is not our job as a media outlet to only write about the good things that happen in the municipalities of Westchester or anywhere else, or promote your propaganda and ignore what’s wrong, even if it has been wrong for so long, many think it’s right.
Until we are all willing to have the hard conversation and deal with what’s wrong, we will never be able to move forward. It is the mission of Black Westchester Magazine to do our part in this process and to be the fourth estate informing our people.