Only a tweet from the iconic, queen Zendaya can perfectly explain my thoughts on this matter:
Why are many media sources refusing to attack and condemn the Las Vegas gunman that killed 58 and wounded up to 600 more? More importantly, why is there such a divide between how the media describes white criminals and innocent black men? Actual murderers, like Paddock and Dylann Roof, are characterized as lone wolves and normal men. However, as soon as a person of color’s life is taken by a police officer, news sources scramble to find their most menacing image and recent criminal history. The racial hypocrisy portrayed by the media has to stop. A person of any race can be a terrorist, a murderer, an enraged psychopath--they don’t just have to be from a country placed under the Muslim ban to be declared as a threat to our country.
A CNN article, written by Emanuella Grinberg, chooses to focus on Paddock’s own brother lamenting about the shooter being “just a guy” and how he noticed nothing out of the ordinary in his own sibling. In fact, the article goes even further to paint Stephen Paddock as a kind momma’s boy, who just recently sent “boxes of cookies to his mother.”
Now is not the time to show what a good man Paddock may have been. Now is not the time to pretend that “he never gave any indication” that he was unstable, while purchasing deadly weapon after deadly weapon. And it is definitely never the right time to victimize the criminal that intentionally crafted the deadliest mass shooting in recent American history.
Let’s go back. Way back to August 2014. The month Michael Brown was murdered by Darren Wilson. In an article for The Hill, the first sentence states: “First, Michael Brown robbed a store.” Where are the peaceful anecdotes of Brown and his family, his hobbies, the gifts he might have sent his mother? Why must we immediately dive into the felonies of a killed black man? While Paddock is memorialized in the news by his closest family members, the only remembrances of Brown is Darren Wilson’s pathetic justification of killing him. In a Washington Post article, Wilson commemorates Brown by referring to him as “the big one,” “Hulk Hogan,” and comparing his face to a that of a demon. Do you see the hypocrisy here yet or must I continue?
The sad case of Eric Garner, unfortunately, is all too similar to Michael Brown’s. On June 13, 2015, The New York Times immediately explained how police were so familiar with Garner, who was apparently arrested twice the year he was killed. The “cat-and-mouse game” between Garner and the cops ends with Garner’s “refusal to be detained.” Why does the last memory of Garner have to be remembered as him fighting against the cops, while Paddock can be remembered as a meek gambler? Garner’s last moments consist of him flailing on the ground, pinned by multiple cops. Paddock’s last remembrances revolve around his innocent love of poker and dive bars.
The media plays a huge role in how anyone killed is remembered for eternity. They are, however, doing no one any favors by sugarcoating white people’s lives compared to those of others. Paddock, Brown and Garner probably all lived very fulfilling and happy lives, but by choosing to portray only one of those men in a positive light, the media downplays the cruel act of terrorism displayed by Paddock and even pacifies it.
We, as a country, need to do better in actually reprimanding white criminals and accurately honoring black victims.