I am considering adding short news opinions to this blog. They will not be well-written because I simply don’t have time to write well and in a timely manner, especially while single-parenting six children, but I want to call attention to newsworthy items and how said news is reported. In every form of media I take in, marginalized populations are degraded. This may not seem like I’m sharing the “light” but the sad reality is we need to bring those issues to light in order to raise awareness and create change.
Language matters and impacts how people are perceived by others. It is not okay that the newspapers call violence by white men “mental illness” while similar violence by people of color (usually black males but not always) is described in gruesome details that include the innocence or youth of the victims and arouse no compassion whatsoever for the perpetrator.
This morning’s Star Tribune has an article starting on the front page entitled “Gunman kills 4 in bizarre assault.” There is no mention of race in this article. The gun man killed 4 people, all in their 20s(!), but there is also no description humanizing these four young people whose lives were certainly taken too soon.
Additionally, the gun man was nearly naked! Two fully dressed black men that visit Starbucks are suspicious and police arrive nearly immediately, but a white man can walk into a Waffle House naked with an AR-15 and then go outside and not be caught and arrested.
Travis Reinking, the suspect, had been arrested and detained back in July by Secret Service agents because he was in the restricted area near the White House and he refused to leave. I’ll write that again: he refused to leave, (stating he wanted to meet Donald Trump!). At the FBI’s request after investigation, four guns were subsequently removed from Reinking’s possession. But the deputies allowed his father to keep the guns safe from his son. Whose idea was that? The suspect’s? Ummm . . . Do we ever hear of this process for African-American people? I mean, you remove guns from someone’s possession because they pose a danger to society and then you give the guns to the suspect’s parent who has arguably done an inadequate job raising their child to be a contributing adult member to society? No, thank you.
The article states the suspect may have “mental issues.” This one always gets me! You don’t read about the people incarcerated with addiction problems who committed nonviolent drug crimes having “mental issues” but mental issues are the justification that conditions us to believe white people who commit VIOLENT crime have mental illness and are an exception. They just need help. Meanwhile, black people are bad and no matter how much they have been chronically and unjustifiably traumatized, the consensus of those in power is that they need to be locked up or killed, not helped.
That’s the reality of our system(s) today.
What do we do about it? Question it. Don’t believe it. Talk about it. Write about it. Stick up for people that are treated unfairly, even if it means you will be treated unfairly for it. Have tough conversations with your neighbors and friends. You are called to integrity! Raise a fuss to the media when news is presented in a racist manner (every day!). Don’t give up. Get politically involved. Point out injustices. Be loud and proud, not silent. We are morally obligated to speak up and protect each other. We must not be neutral.
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormenter, never the tormented.” (Elie Wiesel)