Big Media Missed Big Story In Brunswick

Nzinga Sokoni

The media trucks are all gone and the elements that came together causing the death of Amaud Arbery in Brunswick, and many other small towns, remains. The national media rolled into Brunswick to report on the trial of three white men killing a young Black male. Vehicle after vehicle of big media companies were parked in a lot next to the Glynn County Courthouse. They were all there to cover the Abery murder. They were also in town during a local election where local candidates were vying for office. But the focus was only on what was going on inside the courthouse. The story of a Black man being killed in the south by white men is not new or shocking. However, media people with their big salaries and big assignments missed the mark.

Media should be about getting down to what happened. Somewhere in getting the real story usually lies a solution. But in this case, big media showed little regard for change in the small, beautiful, south Georgia town.

The 20/20 special broadcasted a huge special on the case. It came the closest to addressing a solution. However, they stopped at just identifying the problem. In that ABC special, correspondent Deborah Roberts asked writer Mitchell Jackson why would Amaud Arbery run on that side of Highway 17. The neighborhood where Amaud Arbery was jogging was the white affluent side of the highway. Amaud lived on the side that was majority Black and impoverished. While running, Amaud was chased and killed by three of the local men who said they were making a citizens arrest. They stated that Arbery was going into a home that was under construction. Others had also gone through that home but were never confronted or chased. They were also not Black. 

Jackson told Roberts on the 20/20 show that Arbery ran there because he was imagining a better life. That was the most important clue to a solution that any of the media outlets had produced – economics. But, none of the media attempted to make economics a focus. That was the big story and their human subject was right under their noses.

It is well known that an increase in income and a better way of life reduces crime and violence. In this case, if Amaud’s side of the highway would have been as nice as where he was jogging, we may not have witnessed this tragedy. However, he was a free man that should have been able to jog wherever he pleased without being hunted. But, that doesn’t address the issue at present on the ground.

Maybe even more important, if the city was listening to former football coach, local chamber of commerce president, and former Commissioner candidate Earnest Culbreath, Amaud could have benefitted from a $50K – 80K job – even without a college education. His community could have plenty houses under construction that he could have walked through unmolested by racists.

Earnest has told everyone who would listen that Brunswick is a prime place for investments and “it is past time to think about construction, building of modern mixuse buildings, green jobs, technology, and new industry.” There was one article in one small, local Black newspaper about him. While media was packed into the town that is 55% African American, the Georgia Star wrote about the Culbreath for North Commissioner campaign that unsuccessfully screamed about solutions for all of Brunswick. 

The election results came a few days before the verdict. The verdict convicted the three men but the situations that came together to create this modern day lynching remained. Activist media has been a part of shining light on issues that bring attention, focus, and solutions. That didn’t happen here. After the guilty verdict, the big media conglomerates just packed up and rolled their trucks away.

Across the country there is an $800 million construction project that has a Black company as a prime contractor. The highschool graduates working on this project can make the living wage income stated earlier. Raimore Construction is community-based and aggressive about hiring Black high school grads. But, the high quality construction company also ensures them upward mobility and stability. This Black-owned company will have solid work for five years on the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project. The next major contract this Black company could get is a $5 billion bridge project that will last for 10 years. But, too many local governments in the south find racist ways to get around employing Blacks as prime contractors or even subcontractors in many cases. 

For the I-5 project, the State’s transportation department leaders decided that on this project they would set diversity goals where Blacks will not be misused, misunderstood, and mistreated as they had in the past. This is Oregon with a small Black population, of all places, deciding to step up for the bigger picture of inclusion where the entire state wins.

However, placing strategies in place for successful government contracting for Blacks such as having a Diversity Coordinator, capacity building, technical assistance, and strategies on getting bonded, have not made it to Brunswick’s door. Blacks being in office doesn’t mean they will execute what Mr. Culbreath has said will create an economic boom for Brunswick with benefits to last for the next 100 years.

Earnest was the candidate talking about youngsters in Amaud Arbery’s situation now being able to benefit from the new rules that allow college students to profit from their name, image and likeness. Now the passed over student may try harder to get into a smaller college sports program knowing that he can post support for local businesses or organizations on his social media pages and make a decent income from it. But, Earnest has the research on a number of ways that college athletes are making good money under the new rules. As a former coach, he understood the importance of this new law in the early stages. In his push to support young residents like Amaud, his entire campaign was devoted to better economics for the poorest areas of town. He ask the mayor and business community to view his plan. Culbreath aggressively spoke about taking advantage of the city’s large opportunity zone areas.

Earnest’s Royal Black Chamber of Commerce in Brunswick is still looking for those major investments. He also will be there if any of those big media companies want to come back and take a closer look to what can be an incredible story about solutions. He is now challenging big Georgia companies and investors to become a member of the chamber he heads and help him end the miserable conditions and way of living that plagues too many small towns in the south.

Mr. Earnest Culbreath believes that with his ideas for Brunswick, together his community can “create an area where the next Amaud Arberys can jog in the neighborhoods that love them; with jobs and businesses that significantly enhance their way of life.” If only big media – someone – anyone, would take the time and listen to the small town underdog with actual solutions.