You are on page 1of 8

Cilano 1

Hailey Cilano
Journalism

11/9/15
Cluster #2 (Option #2); Final Draft
African American Racial Violence in the Media

The media started with portraying African Americans as the lesser; an isolated race. As
time went on this viewpoint of racial segregation changed. Equality began to develop through
laws and how the media wrote, as well. It was a huge step in the right direction. The African
American community had been striving for equality for hundreds of years, and it developed.
Now, through the media, it seems the opposite. Organizations are separating the races, as
opposed to joining them as one. Its black lives matter, then everyone else. Its either police
brutality on African Americans, or one is considered racist for making an opposing statement.
Im not a racist person by any means, and I hope in reading this it doesnt make the reader feel
otherwise. I can only speak for myself and that I believe that people cant rely on the media and
social networking as their sole source of information. There are areas of distortion.
It seems that the popular vote is that African Americans face a major rate of police
brutality, and racism on African Americans is flourishing. Those who have the unpopular
opinion, are required to deliberate their perspective along the lines of: Forgive me for using the
unpopular vote but Well, forgive me for using the unpopular vote, but in regards to the topic
of racial violence on African Americans, I am not fervently biased that every video out there on
social media is a sign of police brutality, discrimination, or hatred towards the African American
race. I dont believe it is as pressing an issue as the media makes it out to be. I do believe that
some examples out there, yes, are serious aspects of racial violence, but I am not at liberty to say
all.

Cilano 2

There are others that express a different perspective than the media, and the majority.
Recently Raven Symone made a comment on The View, reflecting on the situation in Spring
Valley High School, where a young African American girl, who refused to get off of her cell
phone, was flipped from her desk by a police officer, and dragged across the floor. Symone gave
her interpretation on the issue stating, The girl was told multiple times to get off her phone.
There was no reason for him [officer] to be doing this type of harm. It's ridiculous, but at the
same time you've got to follow the rules in school, on The View. Countless social media posts
have been made on this statement. Personally, I have been subjected to them, when I came upon
one of the comments on my Facebook wall. One of my Facebook friends wrote, Raven
Symone needs to die in a fire, and this isnt the only astounded remark, with an apparent
petition going around to kick Symone from The View. The non-conformists can be subject to
scrutiny. It seems that if one has the unpopular opinion, one better be ready to face the negative
responses.
Lets go back in time a ways. In The New York Times video Haunted by Memories for
100 Years, a newspaper article, from June 26, 1919, is portrayed with the headline titled John
Hartfeld will be lynched by Ellisville mob at 5 oclock this afternoon, and it branches off into
another headline that discusses how the negro expressed fear as he knew his time was coming
to be hung and killed. Nearly 100 years ago, African Americans were considered the lowest of
the low. The media exemplified this fact, through the use of racial slurs in its diction and casual
tone in conversing about a lynch occurring. Lynches on African Americans werent irregular in
the past. So, writing about them was no different.
The media also reflected the majority mindset of the people reading the articles. Racism
was a very powerful aspect of the past. African Americans could be killed for looking at

Cilano 3

someone the wrong way. So, when the community read about John Hartfelds lynching, they all
gathered around to see it like it was a production, and collected his body parts like souvenirs
when it was complete. I find it intriguing how the media makes it a point to follow public
opinion when it comes to broadcasting news, and with racism being part of the usual spectrum,
the media demonstrated the lynching as just another day.
Time progressed and the Civil Rights Movement came into effect. Segregation was
beginning to decrease, schools were becoming integrated, and equality was forming. In The
Lincolnian, 1960 article titled Roving Reporter by Ivar Browne, Browne interviews other
students from Lincoln University, PA on the topic of the civil rights and its importance on the
upcoming election, between Kennedy and Nixon. When interviewing students, the majority
seems to follow that Both parties need the support of the South, and thus, a transition from the
Reconstruction era has occurred.
With the Civil Rights Movement making importance, the media exemplifies the popular
mentality of enforcing equality for African Americans. When Browne interviewed students from
his college campus, they reached a verdict that it was important for Kennedy and Nixon to
encourage civil rights, to sway the South, and the African Americans that lived there, to vote for
them. Again, the media changed its viewpoints as America changed theirs, and supported the
popular vote of racial equality. Of course, Im glad that the Civil Rights Movement took place
and segregation began to come to an end, but I have to wonder if whether those college students
that were interviewed really supported the promotion of civil rights, or were just following the
popular vote.
Currently, the media promotes equality, the importance of the African American race, and
ending racial violence, now more than ever. In The New York Times, an article from 2015 titled

Cilano 4

The Videos that are Putting Race and Policing into Sharp Relief by Damien Cave and Rochelle
Oliver, Cave and Oliver broadcast countless videos that they believe can be used as examples of
racial violence. From demoting equality in the early 1900s, to promoting equality in the mid1900s, to currently fighting for the lives of African Americans, the media has evolved even
further. In the past, the media used to state the hangings of African Americans in a casual
manner, now they write with outrage and disgust about the apparent police brutality that is
occurring.
Going back to my earlier statement regarding that these videos are believed to be
examples of racial violence, I format my sentence in this way because, though these videos are
disturbing, the fact of the matter is they were recorded on someones cell phone. Again, Im not
saying that these videos are not all examples of police brutality against the African American
race, some of them very well could be. However, Im not about to say that they are all examples
either. Social media is both a blessing and a curse. Anything can be edited, and scenes can be cut
or altered, with just the touch of a button. Theres even a way to change someones weight on a
video, if one has the proper software. It is difficult to determine what can be trusted from an
image or video, and what cant. It is the medias responsibility to sway the reader, and to evoke a
particular emotion. The most powerful way to achieve this goal is through imagery. If someone
sees a video of someone getting, what appears to be, attacked, then his/her immediate reaction is
to be angered and upset. Thus, the media has achieved their goal.
In commenting on the article The Videos that are Putting Race and Policing into Sharp
Relief, a professor from Georgetown University named Paul D. Butler states, The videos are
smoking-gun evidence, both literally because they are very graphic, which generates outrage,
and figuratively, because people believe their own eyes; its difficult to deliberate with

Cilano 5

something when it seems that the evidence is right there. However, its important to remember
the power of the media and technology. One cant understand a situation fully unless they were
there to witness or experience it themselves. The media has a desire to make the reader believe
what theyre writing. And they need to support their claim through sources that reflect their
opinion. If they do that, then the media has completed what they have set out to do.
There is the concept of enforcing the understanding of police brutality and promoting the
end of racial violence through the Black Lives Matter movement. This movement came into
effect after instances such as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner. In an interview
from 2015 titled The Birth of #BlackLivesMatter, Brooke Gladstone interviews Patrisse
Cullors, one of the founders of #BlackLivesMatter. Cullors furthers the explanation of
#BlackLivesMatter in that it's "based on a particular group of people, due to law enforcement
violence, in this recording. I'm all for organizations fighting for a cause. I understand that there
have been examples of police brutality against the black community and that this organization
wishes to protect the lives of the black community and make the unlawfulness known. What I
don't agree with is how it has separated itself from all lives.
In the recent Democratic debate, viewers were able to send videos of questions they had
for the Democrats running. One individual asked, "Do you think black lives matter or all lives
matter?" This isn't the first time this question has been asked to political figures, when recently
Governor Martin O'Malley expressed that "black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter
and was booed. Going back to the Democratic debate on CNN, it only seems natural that when
this question was asked, every Democrat on stage expressed, in so many words, "Well of course
black lives." I want to make it very clear, before I receive any sort of scoff from the reader, that I
do believe that black lives do matter, and I am not in any way racist towards the black

Cilano 6

community, or any other race for that matter. What upsets me is that, in this day and age, when
asked if black lives matter OR all lives matter, one gets heckled for saying "all," and that there's a
division between the two. It's black lives OR all lives, it can't be both. Choose.
Instead of every life being important, it seems that #BlackLivesMatter has morphed into,
first black lives, then everyone else. I feel that my life is just as important as the person sitting
next to me, regardless of race. We live in a world where many fight for equality, yet we separate
ourselves. In the interview, Cullors states her frustrations that #BlackLivesMatter has morphed
into women's lives matter, brown lives matter, immigrants lives matter, etc. I don't understand
the annoyance that comes with giving importance on all types of life, whether men, women,
puppies, and so on. It angers me that people get ridiculed for saying "all lives matter," Instead of
equality, we seem to be separating ourselves even further. A movement that was supposed to be
about raising awareness and encouraging importance has transformed into separation and
controversy.
To be fair, African Americans arent the only race that experience police brutality.
According to the article from 2015 titled CNN Says More Whites Were Killed from Police
Brutality in 2014 by Joshua Copeland, Copeland discusses police brutality statistics on multiple
races. In the article Copeland states, whites were the number one victims of police, with a
number of 414 [deaths]. Meanwhile, blacks took the number two slot with 233 deaths. The
number of Hispanic victims came in third place with 138 kills, with Asians being least likely
victimized with an all-time low of 15, as of a 2014 nationwide data collection
(http://thereelnetwork.net/the-primary-victims-of-police-brutality-and-theyre-not-black-people/).
It is examples such as this that show that police brutality isnt just focused on African Americans,
but happens all around.

Cilano 7

This isnt the only example of police brutality on white people, as seen in The
Washington Times article, from 2015, titled Police Kill More Whites than Blacks, but Minority
Deaths Generate More Outrage, by Valerie Richardson. In this article Richardson writes, Gilbert
Collar, an 18-year-old white student at the University of South Alabama, was shot and killed
while naked, unarmed and under the influence of drugs by a black police officer, portraying a
specific example of police brutality on a white individual. But, very few people have heard about
this incident from the media.
She goes on to use an assistant professor named Peter Moskos, from John Jay College of
Criminal Justice, as a source. She quotes Moskos and his statistics that 49% of people killed
between May 2013-April 2015 were white, 30% were black, 19% were Hispanic, and 2% were
Asian or other. However, this is a topic that receives little attention. Understandably, African
Americans are one of the minorities, so the percentage of black people killed is stronger, in
comparison to the percentage of the overall population of black people that live in the United
States. The point is that black people arent the only race that experiences victimization by police
brutality, whites, Hispanics, Asians experience it as well. The world isnt just black and white.
People dont realize that police brutality happens to other races because the media fails to take
notice on these issues. However, the data is clear that this is an issue that reflects all aspects of
race.
The media, and public figures, makes it a point to stir the pot of controversy. In the recent
GOP Debate that premiered on CNBC, moderator Becky Quick attempts to call out Donald
Trump. She states that she read in an article from donaldjtrump.com that Trump was critical of
Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, to which Trump denied that remark entirely. She
went on to say that, according to the article, Trump called Marco Rubio Mark Zuckerbergs

Cilano 8

personal senator, and again Trump denies that that was ever said
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp4AhqADUJ0).
I dont know who was telling the truth, in terms of Trump versus the article source;
however, what I do know is that people need to take in information carefully, and with a grain of
salt. People rely so heavily on word of mouth, or who/what seems more trustworthy. They read
headlines or look at social media posts, and think they have all of the answers. However, they
need to keep in mind that just because the media or a public figure says it, does not make it true.
It is up to the reader to get both sides of the story to make the best decision. Therefore, in terms
of police brutality, there are examples of police brutality on African Americans that can be found,
but there are also those on other races. If people take the time to discover this, they can begin to
see that police brutality and racial violence is not one sided.
African Americans have been through a lot in regards to racism in the past, and have
worked hard to achieve equality. It is horrible to read about or see these images labeled with
possible police brutality. But again, I feel that not all are examples. The media has grown as well.
In the past, they titled African Americans inappropriately and belittled the black community.
Currently, it seems that the media supports the black race completely. They defend the black
population on countless occasions, as they reflect on deaths on black people with remorse and
grief. However, the media has the system of following popular opinion to get the reader excited,
regardless of all the facts, and whether or not the topic they discuss is entirely accurate. Again, it
is important to know the perspectives of both sides to make the most accurate decision about a
topic. I will state whether I believe that a circumstance, which deals with supposed police
brutality, is in fact police brutality, when I have all of the facts. Until then, I, personally, cannot
say for sure.