The feeling of despair and hopelessness is evident everytime I turn on the news. Will I see another black man gunned down by police over the “misconception”of him being armed? Will I witness a young adult being murdered senselessly? Or will I watch another white man be acquitted of all charges or simply just put on probation? The media has such a huge role to inform the public on information we desperately want to know and portray the story accurately and unbiased. Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Nia Wilson - the list goes on and on. Unbiased?, absolutely not. Media portrayal of black victims is often ALWAYS harsher; media digs to find something to criminalize the black victim because there has to be a valid reason as to why they were killed. Then the news outlets later apologizes with no sincerity because the next victim will be treated the exact same way. It’s a never ending cycle of injustice. News reports often engage in what critics call a form of character assassination. Often choosing to run headlines that exude a feeling of disbelief that a white man could be capable of such things. Boosting the suspect’s character, sharing quotes from family members that paint them in a positive light or pleading that the person is mentally ill. News outlets depicted convicted murderer behind the Denver movie theater shooting as a brilliant student with a privileged background and even brighter future.
CBS Denver and the Denver Post headlines read “Theater Shooting Suspect Was Brilliant Science Student,” and “Our son is mentally ill.”
They showed convicted Stanford rapist’s yearbook photo instead of his mugshot and the New York Post headline read “Three-time All-American Stanford swimmer found guilty of rape.”
Using words like quiet or soft spoken to describe the suspects and often claiming the incident was out of character; painting a picture of innocence.
While black victims including Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin get headlines from the New York Times and Daily Mail that read“Michael Brown was ‘no angel’ because he smoked, drank and rapped,"and “Trayvon Martin was suspended three times for drugs, truancy and graffiti and ‘caught carrying a burglary tool’: New picture emerges of Trayvon Martin (and did he attack a bus driver too?).”
Portraying them as bad individuals that deserved what they got, subtle racial justification. Completely losing sight of the fact that they are victims. This week’s tragedy is no different from the rest, 18 year old Nia Wilson who was brutally killed was portrayed in the media as having an affiliation with violence. News outlets circulated a photo of Nia holding what they said was a gun in actuality it was a phone case, again trying to justify as to why this young life was taken. There has to be a reason right? Wrong. They were all VICTIMS, murdered but portrayed as menaces to society. It continues to promote institutional racism, never truly giving the audience unbiased information for them to form their own opinion. Without the audience even knowing their opinion is formed as soon as those photos and headlines come across their screen. I refuse to be a puppet on a string digesting whatever the media feeds me. I’m going to say their names, know their stories and remember they’re more than a headline and picture. If we don’t fight for them, who will? Are you with me?