Shhh! You Can't Say That!

WARNING: The author of this commentary is cognizant of the hostility that Caucasians manifest toward African-Americans. The purpose of this article is to proclaim that racism will always exist in some form or practice. However, we must look beyond bigotry, and learn to persevere, if we hope to achieve complete equality.

Has the Word Hero Lost Its Meaning?

Years ago heroes had names like Malcolm X and Jackie Robinson; now it’s anyone who dies tragically or becomes a media sensation. How absurd!by Peggy Butler
According to Webster’s Collegiate dictionary, a hero is someone who displays fortitude, boldness, and exceptional courage, especially in times of war or danger. So why is the term being applied to anyone who makes headlines or perishes under tragic conditions?
I first noticed this trend when the space shuttle Columbia exploded in 2003, killing everyone on board. Immediately, the media began referring to the seven astronauts as heroes. Granted, their deaths were tragic, but what constituted their hero status? Did they die trying to save lives? Were they part of a military regime whose job was to protect citizens? Sadly, the answer is no? As astronauts they were simply conducting experiments that may be vital to America’s future.

With that said, why is it in the 21st century that people who die are considered heroes and heroines? I put that question to my associate Roger E. Manderlin IV and was surprised by the response. Affectionately known as the Sultan of Philosophical Mishmash, Roger said that Americans are in such dire need of heroes, they are willing to make one out of every Phil and Jennifer, regardless of their circumstances. Listening to his explanation, I noted that the more he talked, the more he made sense.

And with so many headlines saturating the news, even the most improbable people are getting the hero treatment. Case in point: Laci Peterson. Peterson, a 28-year- old woman from Modesto, California, was 7 1⁄2 months pregnant when she disappeared in December 2003.

Four months later, her body, along with that of her son were found a mile from where her husband Scott, said he last saw her alive. Upon learning her body had been found, many referred to the bubbly brunette as a heroine. Again I ask what made her a heroine? Sure, her death was a travesty. And if you’re a mom, you could say that she was a heroine because in all likelihood she pled for the life of her unborn child. In this scenario the heroine label generates real credibility, but only to those who knew and loved Laci Peterson. However, for the rest of us, she is a woman whose brutal death spawned sadness and overwhelming sympathy.

Now that we’ve established a criteria, let’s see an example of a real hero. My leading candidate are the U.S. troops in Iraq. With the realization that they are fighting in a war that the majority of Americans oppose, they continue to protect and defend. Fearless, courageous and teeming with determination, they fight on, never forgetting that over 3,200 of their comrades have died since the words “AMERICA AT WAR” screamed from headlines around the world on March 20, 2003. So, using that rationale, the U.S. military emerge as real heroes.

Not surprisingly, with hero pandering growing in record numbers, I see a string of misleading sightings on the horizon. Ummmm does that mean that Ann Coulter, the conservative columnist who referred to former Senator John Edwards using a gay derogative slang, is the newest hero of the right wing pavilion? Okay, let’s see. Has she saved any lives in the U.S.? No? Has she made life better for millions of Americans? Yes and no. For those who share Coulter’s political views, she is all that and a jar of caviar. But to the average American, Coulter is as heroic as a malfunctioning air-conditioner on a blistering, July afternoon. Continuing the false hero trend, does that mean that Britney Spears is the reigning heroine for folks who find bald heads, pantiless rear ends and odd behavior stimulating?

So, when will it end? When vice president Dick Cheney. is declared the official hero for all powerful men who stand in the back ground, quietly wielding power as their boss is criticized, raked over the coals and all but ignored by the American public? Enough of this nonsense. Let’s see things as they are, not as we imagine them to be. Sounds fair?

Great. Now let’s conclude this article with an ending befitting such noble phrases. Oh snap, can you believe that I was on the verge of calling this article a hero? Sorry. Seriously folks, like anyone, I admire heroes and marvel at their achievements. But a word of caution, before labeling someone a hero and/or heroine, make sure the title is based on real courage and not circumstances hastened by media sensationalism.



Tribecca Publication Announces New Book By Black Market Columnist
August 2, 2003 -- Tribecca Publications, a subsidiary of the Reitano Press Division, is pleased to announce a new book, "My Head Is Bloody, But Unbowed" by Peggy Butler, a contributor for
Published June 15, 2003, the book is daring collection of essays that bring issues and themes pertinent to African-Americans to the forefront. No topic is too sacred or too controversial, with subjects ranging from Color Consciousness (light vs. dark) to Man Sharing to Black-on-Black violence.
The book retails for $15, and contains 103 pages in a 8 1/2 X 11 format with over 40 photos is available directly from the author. Please Note: "My Head Is Bloody, But Unbowed" has been slated for a second publication by Publish America, a popular syndicate located in Frederick Maryland. Date of publication is tentatively scheduled for August 2004.
For further information contact Peggy Butler:
E-mail Or visit her website at:

The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of GriffinDesigns or

©GriffinDesigns 1997-2004

| Home| TheBlackMarketPlace | Classified Ads | Resources |
| Black History | Monthly Columns | Contact Us | Advertising | Y Black |