Trauma Porn: Hyper-Consumption Of Black Death And Pain

Trauma Porn: Hyper-Consumption Of Black Death And Pain

3303
views

I really don’t want to be writing this article, because it brings me so much pain, sadness, anger and frustration to think about everything that has happened this past week and the past two years. But I have to, because I feel if I don’t share what I feel, then y’all won’t know or be aware of a different perspective about how traumatic and significant seeing Black people killed on camera or in real life is.

My older brother came into my room on the evening of July 5, 2016, and asked me if I heard about the police killing of Alton Sterling, and I said “No…” He showed me the video without much warning of how graphic the footage was going to be. I winced, hearing this man, this husband, this father, screaming for his life…and then silent. My little brother was in my room and watched the video, too.

I sat there in silence, waiting for my emotions and thoughts to gather. I looked at my 14-year old brother, thinking, “I shouldn't’ve have let him watch that. He’s too impressionable.” He looked concerned. He continues to become more worried about his safety and the state of the country every day.

I’m on Twitter and see Sterling’s murder on auto-play on my timeline. I go on my Facebook and see Sterling’s murder on auto-play on my news feed. I was so frustrated with how nonchalantly, and without hesitation, people and friends were sharing this video. But I understand why people were doing this: Awareness. He is was a father, husband and a provider for his family. But I felt it was incredibly disrespectful and traumatizing for Sterling’s friends and family to have this video shared and on auto-play on 24-hour news stations.

Not even 24 hours later, I see images of Philando Castile’s blood-soaked shirt as he takes his last breaths in the passenger seat of a car. This time I didn’t watch, but I listened and read the details from people’s commentary. Now, Philando Castile’s last moments are on repeat on national television. Now, I’m boiling with rage and sadness.

I couldn’t stop picturing my father in Sterling’s position. I couldn’t stop picturing my older brother in the passenger seat. Hell, I couldn’t stop thinking of my little brother in 12-year old Tamir Rice’s place at the park bench. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t stop the rage.

The hyper-consumption of Black death seems like a fetish for our nation. Watching these videos at this point isn’t awareness, it’s psychologically damaging for all of us. It desensitizes us to seeing Black people killed, maimed or abused. We normalize Black pain. Why do we have to prove our pain or death to people in order for them to believe us or listen?

I didn’t start thinking about the hyper-consumption of dead Black bodies and biases of racial pain and death in the media until the massacre at Garissa University in Kenya on April 2, 2015. There were pictures of the dead Black bodies scattered across the ground and floors of the university. Bodies of parents, children, sons and daughters were circulating on my social media and the television for a few days.

I found it odd, yet unsurprising, that the dead White bodies of Sandy Hook and Aurora weren’t on the news to prove their death. Instead, what we were shown for them were their crying and grieving mothers, fathers, siblings and colleagues.That doesn’t happen for Black people. I’m quite positive had the news been circulating their White bodies, the nation would being exclaiming how disrespectful and traumatizing these images were to their families, and being told it is excessive to show their lifeless, bloody bodies.

This is not the case for Black people. Black people aren’t allowed to grieve. We aren’t allowed to be mad or show any extreme emotion when someone we love is taken from us so abruptly by law enforcement, the people who pledged to “serve and protect.” We’re not even humanized after death by the media, unlike our dead White counterparts. The media and consumers of the media are quick to gather all the negative things from our past to emphasize how un-human we are, how we “were no angels,” how our death is justified. Our friends and family can’t catch a break, either. Castile’s girlfriend was put in handcuffs, and along with her 4-year old daughter, was put in the backseat of the police vehicle like they were the suspects. The proliferation of our deaths is not helpful, it's anti-Black.

We have to remember that we all are the media. We play a role in the media now, because of social media; the news gets their content from whatever we make trend. We have more of a responsibility to be conscious of what we share. We have normalized Black death. We have normalized it so much, that when another unarmed Black person is killed unjustly by the police, we think to ourselves, “Another one?” This shouldn’t be happening. The reaction to Black people being killed by law enforcement shouldn’t be the same as when a fly enters our kitchen during the summer. We are complex human beings with a story. We deserve the same respect compared to our White counterparts from the media–YOU–when it comes to our death.

It’s important we pressure the larger and original media like the Huffington Posts, the Buzzfeeds and the CNNs to share unbiased news and title their news with equality. The fact that Brock Turner, the Stanford rapist and mass shooters are humanized and shown more respect than Black victims like Alton Sterling is telling of the racial bias and white supremacy that is prevalent in the media and in our society (i.e. us).

I understand sharing videos of the victims of police murder is considered raising awareness. However, I and many others see it as traumatizing. At this point, two years after Mike Brown, people know about the racial disparity and white supremacy of the judicial system and how police operate, but some still just don’t care. There’s a difference between knowing and caring and being proactive about the situation.

We must continue to contact our elected officials, police chiefs and Congresspersons’ about police reform and gun control. We must continue to have these difficult yet important conversations. Dialogue is one of the best ways to eradicate racism and other oppressive systems, institutions and practices within the United States. Everything that exists is merely a reflection of the people.

Cover Image Credit: Gloria la Riva for President

Popular Right Now

To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

718915
views

To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

​'When They See Us' Is The Tough Show Nobody Wants To Watch But Everyone Needs To

Justice was not served.

366
views

Netflix just released a limited series called "When They See Us." The series is based on the Central Park Five. The Central Park Five were five young boys who were convicted of raping a woman jogging in Central Park on April 19, 1989. These young boys did not commit the crime they were convicted of though, they were set up by the prosecutor on the case, Linda Fairstein, along with her fellow detectives.

On April 19, 1989, a huge group of boys went out to Central Park one night "wilding." Cops came and arrested a bunch of the boys who were out. Linda Fairstein came to the scene where the rape happened, with the women attacked hanging on for her life. When Fairstein got to the precinct, immediately she said the boys in the park were the perpetrators. She had the police go out into the neighborhoods and find every young, black/Hispanic male who fit a description they drew up and brought them in for questioning.

What the detectives then did was extremely illegal.

They questioned these 14, 15 and 16-year-old boys without their parents. These boys were minors. These detectives took these boys in the rooms for questioning and started to plot a story in their head, making them say they committed the horrific crime. The boys were saying it wasn't them but the detectives would not let down. They started beating the kids until they "admitted" to this act of rape. One of the boys, Antron McCray, was with his mom and dad when they started to question him. Kevin Richardson was questioned without his mom until his sister came and was basically forced to sign the statement the detectives wrote for him so he could go home.

Yusef Salaam's mother came and got her son just before he signed his Miranda rights away. Raymond Santana was coerced by detectives for hours and hours, along with the others. Korey Wise, who was not in the police's interest at first, was taken and beaten by a detective until he agreed to the story they drew up. These boys didn't even know each other, except Yusef and Korey, and were pinning the crimes on one another because they were forced.

Donald Trump was even supportive of bringing back the death penalty for this case. He wanted the death penalty for five teenage boys. Teenagers. The boys were barely in high school and were being attacked with the death penalty.

At the trial, the lead prosecutor, Elizabeth Lederer, called in the victim of the attack, Trisha Meili. Meili had no recollection of the night after being in a coma for several days. The DNA evidence that was presented at trial did not match any of the defendants. There were no eyewitnesses. They showed the recordings of the interviews of the boys, but they were forced into telling false stories, which none of were merely similar. The case had no supporting evidence whatsoever. But the jury still convicted all five boys, who had to serve out their sentences.

The charges were exonerated in 2002 after the real rapist confessed. But exoneration does not make up for what these young boys had to go through. They were tried as adults at the ages of 14, 15 and 16. Korey Wise was in a maximum security prison at the age of 16. These boys went through something they should have never gone through at such a young age. There was no justice served for the boys or the victim. The detectives pinned a crime on five innocent young boys. These boys had been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead of actually working to find the real rapist, Linda Fairstein pinned it on five boys and did not do anything by the book while the boys were in question.

The show has brought back outcries about the case, even causing Linda Fairstein to step down from her charity boards. Our justice system still isn't what it should be today, and this show helps with showing us that.

The Netflix series shines a light on the racism of these detectives and the injustice that was served. Ava DuVernay did a tremendous job with this show. It is moving. The four episodes are very hard to watch, but it is so important that you do.

Related Content

Facebook Comments