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Three Fifths…If That

May 16, 2013

Just to drive the message home, just so everyone is perfectly clear, People of color don’t matter in America. I know that I’ve made this point multiple times in the past. I know that it’s a fact but it’s still hard to have that fact shoved up in your face.

Did you know there was a shooting at a Mother’s Day parade in New Orleans? Nineteen people were injured, two of whom were 10-year-olds. One of those has been shot twice in the past year. I didn’t know about this, not until today. In fairness, part of the reason this has not been bigger news is that no one died and death sells better than injury. Having said that, there were no early reports of “breaking news,” on “a national tragedy,” in NOLA when it happened. Why? The victims were mostly black, the shooting happened in a black neighborhood of one of the blackest cities in the US. As such, the incident has pretty much been blown off by both national media and federal authorities. Don’t believe me?

FBI spokeswoman Mary Beth Romig said federal investigators have no indication that the shooting was an act of terrorism.

“It’s strictly an act of street violence in New Orleans,” she said. The southern city has one of the highest violent crime rates in the US

So, you know, the fact that nineteen people were injured in various way, on the street, during a gathering doesn’t matter that much. The FBI has more important things to do.

And it’s not just the media or the government who are overtly expressing their lack of concern. the response of everyone outlet that has bothered to speak about this event has been to point out the pervasive violence or the culture of violence in the city. Hey, guess what? That’s kind of bullshit.

no one is saying that NOLA doesn’t have violence. it very much does, but when it comes to lists of most dangerous or most violence cities, it generally doesn’t even make the Top Ten. According to the compiled FBI statistics on city violence, it doesn’t even make the Top 100.

So why do so many people repeat this false information and why do so many otherwise wise, savvy individuals accept such a flimsy excuse?

Because we’re taught to believe it. Because the pervasive narrative that all of us are exposed to by society is that PoC are more violent, thus the violent situations to which they are victim are less important because it’s just “in our nature,” or “we brought it on ourselves.” As I mentioned before, that’s not factual, but people still believe it and they still use that false belief to perpetuate the overall lack of shits given about the lives and safety of PoC in America.

Now is where I would normally go into a summation outlining the solution to this problem. But…um… I don’t have one. I don’t know the solution to this because it is so much bigger than me and has been going on for so long I don’t know how to fix it. All I know is that I’m going to keep shining the light in this and other dark places. Hopefully, someone smarter than me will take up the fixing part.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2013 1:49 PM

    I hear you. But to be fair, I heard about it the day after it happened. I don’t watch 24/7 news, so I get my news from msn (on line) or npr. It did not register with me that the victims were black or white (in fact, I didn’t even think about their color until you mentioned it here). I focused my anger on the fact that it was more gun violence and innocent people getting ready for bed in their own houses were affected because of our stupid gun culture.

    That is not to say you are not right. There is racism. Blatant. Insidious. Sickening. One has only to look at how hated President Obama is.

  2. May 16, 2013 2:04 PM

    Not a surprise, sadly enough. Do you remember back when Scott Peterson killed (he’s been convicted, so I don’t feel the need to use the word “allegedly”) his wife and their unborn child. This case was local to me, more or less. Remember all the time that case got in the media? Well, around the same general time period there was a multiple murder here in Fresno, so also local to me – in fact, I have friends who lived in the neighborhood at the time of the murders. A man named Marcus Wesson killed nine of his children and grandchildren (some of them were both – it was a messy case in a lot of ways). You’d think that this case, with not only murders of nine people, some of them toddlers, with overtones of cult involvement, would have gotten plenty of news coverage. That’s the sort of thing that the media finds fascinating.

    But Marcus Wesson and his victims were people of color. And yes, it did get attention locally. But not nearly as much attention as the Peterson case. Nationally, the case was mentioned for a couple of days when the murders happened, then I think some of the national newscasts had a short item when Wesson was convicted. Other than that, mostly crickets.

    I find this disparity ridiculous. Thank you for pointing this out, yet again.

    • May 16, 2013 2:31 PM

      I hadn’t heard more than passing mention of the Wesson case and I study serial and spree killings, you know, just for fun and stuff.

  3. May 16, 2013 4:14 PM

    I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but there is a book about the Wesson case, written by a local reporter who covered the case. It isn’t a bad book, if you’re interested. It is “By Their Father’s Hand: The True Story of the Wesson Family Massacre” (New York: Harper Collins), by Monte Francis. As I recall, it was pretty factual and not overly sensationalistic – well, not any more than a lot of books about mass or serial killers are.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    May 17, 2013 12:07 AM

    It’s not all “people of color” who are shunned. It’s the poor, ignorant, violent ones who make up the bulk of the prison population and the violent crime statistics. Poor blacks are ignored by the media as much as poor whites and hispanics are. The media don’t give a damn about trailer park crime, either.

    • May 17, 2013 1:56 AM

      Thanks for being such a good example of the institutional, fact-free racism that I was talking about.

      • May 18, 2013 12:24 AM

        Yeah? It’s true though. You don’t have to be fact free, you can just look up the percentage of federal inmates who are black, the percentage of violent crimes committed by blacks, the percentage of rapes. Don’t get me wrong, there skin color and other physical attributes don’t make them inferior. There’s just a large number of people in America committing violent crime, and for some weird reason most of them seem to be black.

      • May 18, 2013 7:42 AM


        It’s not “weird” at all. It makes perfect sense that a group of people who were violently discriminated against and who have been kept in poverty for so long would have a higher crime rate. Poverty and crime go hand-in-hand.

        Though I did think your point that poor white people are overlooked a lot in the media, as well, had some merit. As are “ugly” people of any race. Kids are killed every day, but we are still talking about Jon Benet Ramsey even today.

      • Richter_DL permalink
        July 16, 2013 3:46 AM

        “you can just look up the percentage of federal inmates who are black”

        Pretty circular. ‘Blacks are sentenced to prison more than other races, this disproves institutionalised racism’ kind of doesn’t fly. If the system is rigged against them, of COURSE they will be disproportionally represented in America’s abundant, massive, immense prison population (seriously, you keep more people imprisoned than North Korea). That they are proves there IS a problem with anti-black racism.

        The self-declared “best criminal justice system in the world” acquitted a white man of shooting an unarmed black boy point blank with a gun after slaking him, but sentenced a black woman shooting a wall to 20 years in prison for intent to kill because her abusive husband was in the relative vicinity of the wall. Yes, that totally is not rigged. And that reason is not weird. It is plainly obvious to see for anyone who has eyes and uses them.

  5. Richter_DL permalink
    July 16, 2013 3:38 AM

    Seriously? That was international news in German TV. Which is a continent away (just as the country the Guardian mostly covers is, of course). What the hell, America. Are such shootings THAT common over there that they only make news when a lot of white children are involved?

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