Twitter campaign #iftheygunnedmedown asks US media how they would choose to represent African-American victims
By Renee Lewis
Kelley said such stereotypes have persisted decades after the civil rights movement because many Americans believe they live in a postracial society—which he said contributes to indifference.
“The fact of the matter is that whiteness presumes innocence and blackness presumes guilt, and you have to prove yourself otherwise,” he said. “This has become routine. We have studies from the Malcolm X Foundation that say every 28 hours a black man dies with his hands up. That’s not a small statistic. That’s incredible.”
Exacerbating the problem, Robinson said, are media portrayals of African-American men in narrow roles.
“A recent Pew Research Poll said most Americans get their news from local news coverage, and local news coverage of black men was relegated overwhelmingly—around 80 percent—to crime and sports,” he said. “The media has a responsibility to delve into stereotypes and debunk them.”
He said such coverage leaves an impression in many Americans’ minds of where different groups fit into the larger culture, and that affects the treatment they receive.
“It impacts how black boys are perceived as valuable or threatening in school. It determines treatment in courtrooms, treatment by police,” he said. “The media has to paint a true picture of society.”
By Keith Boykin
But when a 22-year-old black kid named John Crawford picked up a mere BB gun in a Walmart store in Dayton, Ohio last week, customers called the police, who then shot and killed him.
Here lies a racial disparity that's difficult for honest people to ignore. How can black people openly carry a real gun when we can't even pick up a BB gun in a store without arousing suspicion? The answer in America is that the Second Amendment doesn't really apply to black people.
Consider this. In the hours since the protests began in Ferguson, Missouri, gun sales spiked in the St. Louis area. It seems some whites are scared to death of violent black people, even though the only person who's been killed in the past week of turmoil in St. Louis was 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Imagine what might happen if black people started buying up scores of weapons at gun stores and posting pictures of ourselves carrying them on the streets to protect ourselves? We don't have to wonder. When the Black Panthers did this in the 1960s, California's Republican Governor Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of white conservatives, signed a law called the Mulford Act which prohibited the carrying of firearms on your person, in a vehicle, or in any public place or street.
In defense of black rage: Michael Brown, police and the American dream
I don't support the looting in Ferguson, Missouri. But I'm also tired of "turning the other cheek" and forgiving
By Brittney Cooper
The irony is that black people understand this heightened anxiety. We feel it, too. We study white people. We are taught this as a tool of survival. We know when there is unrest in the souls of white folks. We know that unrest, if not assuaged quickly, will lead to black death. Our suspicions, unlike those of white people, are proven right time and time again.
I speak to this deep psychology of race, not because I am trying to engage in pop psychology but because we live in a country that is so deeply emotionally dishonest about both race and racism. When will we be honest enough to acknowledge that the police have more power than the ordinary citizen? They are supposed to. And with more power comes more responsibility.
Why are police calling the people of Ferguson animals and yelling at them to “bring it”? Because those officers in their riot gear, with their tear gas and dogs, want a justification for slaughter. But inexplicably in that moment we turn our attention to the rioters, the people with less power, but justifiable anger, and say, “You are the problem.” No. A cop killing an unarmed teenager who had his hands in the air is the problem. Anger is a perfectly reasonable response. So is rage.
By Tim Wise
Honestly, when a white man in a place like New Orleans can literally point his weapon directly at not one, not two, but three members of the New Orleans Police Department, and when told to drop his weapon, answer back, “No, you drop your fucking gun,” and remain a breathing, carbon-based life form—as was the case this past April for Derrick Daniel Thomas—then you know you’re dealing with a two-tiered law enforcement regime hardly different from the ones that existed under Jim Crow. Google the NOPD and check out their history if you harbor any doubts about how such an act as Thomas’s would have gone down had he been black.
Hell, when I lived in the city, one of my roommates was punched and bloodied by the NOPD just for giving side-eye after they accused him of robbing a white woman several blocks away. Even after she told them he wasn’t the guy—oh yeah, they shoved him in the car and took him over to her for an entirely improper sidewalk lineup—they still threw him back in the car and headed downtown to book him for resisting arrest. Because apparently denying culpability for a crime you didn’t commit is resisting arrest in apartheid America. It was only when Darryl informed the police that his uncle had been the city’s first black Lieutenant (and having named him, sufficiently scared the white grunt cops) that they resigned to letting him go.
Why should we refrain from the charge of apartheid when police departments like those in Ferguson, Missouri—scene of the latest sacrifice to the gods of white supremacy, and with a recent history of overtly racist leadership and racist brutality against folks of color—continue to patrol the streets of their town as if they were an occupying force in a foreign country? As they include among their ranks the kind of retread bigots who openly berate the people for whom they work as “animals?” This is Sharpeville, 1960 or Soweto, 1976, only with lower body counts (so far). This is Birmingham, 1963, Selma, 1965, only with a midwestern accent, rather than the southern type we’d long been told to expect. Fifty years later and white law enforcement officers are still behaving as if the ruling in Dred Scott—that blacks “have no rights which the white man is bound to respect”—were still operative. Because sadly, and no matter what the Constitution may say, it appears that it is, so much so that it may well become the new motto for police around the country, soon to replace the “protect and serve” emblems on their patrol cars.
In fact, Natives experience stereotyping similar to blacks, and it leads to similar problems. For example:
And of course Natives are shot by the police, ignored in hospitals, beaten and raped, left to die in the snow, etc., etc. Again, this happens in part because the mainstream sees them as second-class citizens. As less deserving of justice than white folks.
In other words, as redskins, injuns, and squaws--a kind of subhuman species halfway between civilized man (Caucasian) and mindless ape. Very much like Neanderthals and other primitive cavemen, with which they're occasionally associated. In short, savages.
The point again is how media representations matter. Frank LaMere, Winnebago, put it well:
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