Where's the love?

Posted October 25, 2007 2:45 am (about 4497 days ago)

Except for the Oakland Tribune, too many in the media missed the point of the 1st Annual Hip Hop Chess Federation Scholarship chess tournament.

The Oakland Tribune loves the kids!

Nearly two weeks ago I attended the Hip Hop Chess Federation’s 1st Annual Chess Kings Invitational chess tournament in San Francisco and had a great time, alongside a group of students and staff from my school. While several celebrities of varying stature were in attendance as participants and observers, the event was billed as a scholarship fund raiser for students.

However, in the nearly two weeks that have passed since the event I’ve read more than half a dozen articles about the event and only one media outlet that I’ve come across, the Oakland Tribune, actually took the time to speak to the students who were benefiting from the event. Mind you, there were some very progressive writers in attendance and even they focused more on the celebrities than the youth. A couple mentioned that it was a scholarship fund, but that was it. I’m not bothered that students from my school in particular weren’t interviewed or photographed, but for an event that was supposedly “for the youth,” I wonder why the youth themselves weren’t part of the actual coverage, including most of the photographs. A couple of students asked me this question, including one who didn’t even compete. Other adults noticed this trend as well. So why does it matter? It sends the implied message that celebrities are more valued than the youth, even among the progressive media!

Ironically, a few days before the event one of my students relayed a story about attending a fund raiser for another program that he was part of and being invited to come to the stage. However, as the various speakers shared some words none of the actual youth in the program were allowed to say anything. While I don’t know all of the specifics of the event, he told me that he felt a bit used and disrespected, as if they were brought out to be on display for the cameras. In this particular case, none of the youth I know who participated had a problem with the HHCF event. They had a wonderful time. However, they’ve definitely felt invisible in the aftermath.

Adisa Banjoko,
one of the co-founders of the event, and I discussed this issue and he’s working with his team to figure out how to get the press to be more aware of the youth and the schools and organizations that they represent. I don’t think this’ll be a problem at the next event once it’s pointed out. I have much respect for the journalists I recognized and I’m a bit surprised that they missed the boat on this one. So much is written about how young people have no voice and panels take place every day discussing this same issue, yet here we were, at an actual event, with real young people, and they were relegated to the background. They have some powerful perspectives to share. Even if I hadn’t attended the event, I’d be less interested about every detail of the celebrity matches than how the event impacted people in the community. Seriously, if that isn’t discussed there were just a bunch of dudes sitting around playing chess, surrounded by star-struck fans. How’s that newsworthy, without the proper context, even if they are celebrities? On that note, kudos to the Oakland Tribune’s Barbara Grady for the article and Jane Tyska for the video!


1. Shatika S. said at June 11, 2008 10:37 pm:

I agree with this article because I was at the event and I know 80% or more were kids. The highlight of the entire event was about the kids doing something more productive with there lives instead of hanging out on the corners. I remember when we were waiting out side a lot of the boys from our school got interviewed and then after the event when the articles began to come out, none of the interviews were nowhere to be seen. Even the pictures gave credit to the wrong people. I honestly wasn’t very shocked by the out come of everything because I happens a lot.

2. Amado Rosas said at June 19, 2008 12:38 am:

This article explains the cruel reality of how the media covered this Chess Tournament, which had the purpose of motivating the teenagers that were part of this event to do something positive and entertaining. I was part of the group representing Unity High School, and even thought I did not participate in the tournament, I definately felt the frustration coming from my peers because the main focus of this event was being left out by the media. I was also a bit mad because I was asked a couple of questions by an Oakland Tribune writer, and I felt the answers that I gave to this questions would have broken many of the stereotypes that people outside of the City of Oakland have about teenagers living here. I did have a lot of fun at the event, but I think that the organizers, as well as the media, should restate the focus of this event

3. Ernesto said at June 21, 2008 12:57 pm:

I would like to read the article. I know that the event was made for youth but I believe that it's ridiculous that the article was made more for the celebrities than students. I guess that it was made like this to get more attention.

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