Our country routinely attributes Black people’s crimes and passions to some sort of savagery that is rooted in our race, while Whites exhibiting the same disruptive, illegal or socially inappropriate actions are cast aside as redeemable mistakes or simply not guilty in the first place.
The American legal system is based on the idea that a citizen who is culpable of wrongdoing should be regarded as such, whether they are to face some sort of corrective treatment or a form of punishment. But people who are responsible for informing the public of these crimes or are granted the right to decide who is punishable versus those who aren’t constantly fail to see how race colors our perceptions of people’s actions—specifically with the reasoning, context and severity of their actions.
Where was the national outrage last weekend over the 1,500 rioting university students in Kentucky after a football game? Photos and videos of the event depict scores of White kids starting fires in the streets surrounding the stadium as police in tactical gear stood on the sidelines watching people “mingle,” pointing guns and occasionally entering the crowd to remove any “disobedient” fans. 31 people were arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct and no one has a clear explanation as to why the riot started in the first place (aside from one of the teams losing by five points. Shocker). People had plenty of negative things to say about the handful of Black girls having a brutal cat fight at a fast food restaurant, but hardly anything about the public event of debauchery and destruction that was the Kentucky football brawl.
Similarly, White conservatives with an affinity for FOX, spewing propaganda and racist commentary had no hesitation in suggesting that Ferguson protesters are “thugs” who are guilty of Black-on-Black crime and of bringing death and violence unto themselves. There were hardly any comments when dozens of people were sent to the hospital after sustaining injuries during the Keene Pumpkin Riot in New Hampshire last fall. How is it that thousands of White students can show out and cause violence in their path only to walk away with a slap on the wrist while a single Black one can be brutally beaten in front of their classmates by local law enforcement simply for trying to use a fake ID at a bar? Martese Johnson’s face covered in blood and screaming in pain is pressed into my brain almost a month after his story hit the Internet.
Two crime reports went viral last week are worth noting. Local Iowa newspaper, the Gazette, published two virtually identical stories of burglaries by White and Black men. The source of the controversy was that while one story describing a group of three White college students from the University of Iowa used their college yearbook photos, the other story describing four Black men used their mugshots. In other words, while one suggested that a group of White men were just some carefree students that had gotten their hands dirty while out of class, the other report implied that the Black men were career criminals already found guilty of the crime.
The non-apology put out by the news outlet was quite the disappointment, arguing that the students’ mugshots weren’t available until after the story was published. The only problem with their statement was that the students’ mugshots were available to be put into the article well before everyone else picked up on the comparison.
If people are ever going to begin to understand the pervasiveness and the effect that racism has on the way people of color are perceived, they have to pay closer attention to how our stories are told. We have to remain vigilant when our stories aren’t given the same kind of respect, consideration and thorough, transparent investigation as those of our White counterparts. It’s obvious that until stories like those of Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Renisha McBride and Trayvon Martin come to an end, we have no other choice.
Hands Up, Don't Shoot: Ferguson Sparks Photo Movement
1. A Call To Action1 of 43
2.2 of 43
3.3 of 43
4.4 of 43
5.5 of 43
6. Young Black Men Support6 of 43
7. No Justice, No Peace!7 of 43
8. Hands Up8 of 43
9. Don't Shoot9 of 43
10. Beyond Color10 of 43
11. Youth Movement11 of 43
12. Don't Shoot12 of 43
13. Generational Support13 of 43
14. Activists Of Our Generation14 of 43
15. Gathering Crowds15 of 43
16. Mike Brown's Mother16 of 43
17. The Revolution Will Be Socially Shared17 of 43
18. Anonymous?18 of 43
19. T-Shirt With A Message19 of 43
20. RIP Mike20 of 43
21. Hands Up21 of 43
22. We Are One Race22 of 43
23. Do I Fit The Description?23 of 43
24. Am I Next?24 of 43
25. A Happy Protestor25 of 43
26. We Are Praying With My Feet26 of 43
27. Masked Supporter27 of 43
28. A Stand Off28 of 43
29. The Power Of Banning Together29 of 43
30. We Want Answers30 of 43
31. Brave Supporters31 of 43
32. We Need Justice32 of 43
33. Hands Up33 of 43
34. Don't Shoot!34 of 43
35. Passive Aggressive35 of 43
36. The People Flee36 of 43
37. Hell No, We Won't Go!37 of 43
38. Solidarity38 of 43
39. Assume The Position39 of 43
40. A Sniper, Really?40 of 43
41. Never Give Up41 of 43
42. Is It A Race Thing?42 of 43
43. A Powerful Image43 of 43
Of Men & Monsters: In Media, There Are No Black Victims was originally published on hellobeautiful.com