The Color of Character

Does Race Only Matter When the Victim is Black?

stop violence graphicI’ve taken a completely unscientific poll of a ridiculously small number of people, but I think that my findings can be extrapolated to reflect many more. Perhaps thousands or even millions.

The important quality of my subjects is that they are white, and view themselves as liberal, progressive, or at least not harboring feelings of racial superiority. Yet they are troubled by media coverage of crimes and victims. From daily local criminal behavior, to the kind of deed that grabs the national spotlight, if the victims are white, and the perpetrators are black, with one very rare exception, it isn’t newsworthy. It doesn’t seem to support a narrative that the media believes is the “right” one. If the victim is black, it is national news.

Likewise, there are media where if the criminal is black, the race cannot or will not be mentioned so as not to cast aspersions on a larger group.

This past week in Virginia we have an example where whites were the victims of a horrendous crime commited by a black man, and when the races of the perpetrator and victims were revealed, there are voices crying foul. These angry voices claim it is conservative America playing the race card. Don’t believe me?

Read this.

Will this bring differing voices together? I don’t think so. Not everything is secretly coded or blatant proof of racism, bigotry, or prejudice.

Here is another small voice seeking to understand why he doesn’t matter to the media.

Early in August I spent a weekend in a small town in Michigan not far from Grand Rapids. On the local news was the story of an 18-year old white man who was walking home one evening through a mostly black neighborhood in Grand Rapids. He was jumped by several black youths and severely beaten. When a video of the assault came up on social media, it garnered a bit of attention from the local news media. See this.

Prosecutors then arrested five youths who will be charged with assault. The prosecutors at the time hesitated to call it a hate crime because there is no indication that the victim’s race played a role. Huh?

Here is another example from my home town of Chicago. See this. No hate crime charges to be filed. What if the races were reversed? This double standard must be addressed along with the daily accusations of racism against the white community.

The victim in Grand Rapids was interviewed (he suffered a concussion from kicks to the head, broken ribs, and a bruised jaw), and he wanted to know why this is not considered a racially motivated hate crime. He alluded to the notion that if the races had been reversed this would have been a national story with hate crime charges pressed, and calls for discussions on racism in America. Read more.

I did a little bit of research and found that in 2012 there were news stories about numerous black on white assaults in Grand Rapids. They never made it passed the local news.

It should be insulting to the black community that the media should take it for granted that black on white crime is not newsworthy, as if it is to be expected. It should be equally insulting to the white community that white victims of black crime don’t matter in American mainstream media. In the interest of not inciting racial discord, the media, in its willingness to overlook black on white crime, might serve to exacerbate ill will, at least on the part of many white Americans whose concerns are not considered when the subject is race. Everyone’s concerns need to be heard and understood to have a dialogue. One-sided monologues and finger pointing will not advance our goal of eliminating our racial divide.

Ironically, we are in the middle of the “black lives matter” campaign. Yes they do. But you will never convince the vast majority of white Americans that black on white crime isn’t worth the nation’s attention – especially since fear of it keeps so many whites choosing to separate themselves from any black community. No one wants to feel that his or her life or safety is less important than any other life. Can we agree on this and have a real conversation?

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