Sunday, April 8, 2012

The negative media portrayal of black males as criminals

By Hudson George:

Who is George Zimmerman? Some people say he is a white American; others say he is a Latino American of mixed race, but the fact is he killed a teenage African American young man. However, in the news reports Zimmerman claims that he shot a suspicious looking young black man walking in his neighbourhood. But what clues Zimmerman had to claim that the young black man looked suspicious and suspicious of what? It is obvious that Mr Zimmerman has been influenced by popular western media that portray black men as criminals.

Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapersMost people think that George Zimmerman is a racist and he targeted a young black male and committed a hate crime and he should be punished for his bigotry and murder. However, if George Zimmerman was black man and he killed a young white man, most likely in American society he would have been charged with murder, but in the United Sates race is a factor that determines people’s ethnicity and class status. But then again, race and class discrimination is not isolated to American society, because lots of people all over the world are living with hate. They hate other human beings for various reasons beside race.

In the Caribbean there are many people as Zimmerman and sometimes they do stupid things, if and when they have privilege to exercise their powers in society. For example, Caribbean men and women in the police and military service who have the privilege to carry weapons to serve and protect the state, sometimes kill innocent civilians by abusing state power. In most cases, the police and soldiers in Caribbean countries are black and they abuse civilians of all different races for various reasons. And sometimes the state covers up the crimes they commit, when it suits the interest of those in higher authority.

Race, class and gender are social factors that determine people’s status within society. In the United States black people are an ethnic minority that has a lot of social problems. High rate of gun crime, racism, unemployment and drugs are daily dilemmas black Americans have to deal with in their community. 

However, these social dilemmas have created a sort of perception that all black people, especially black men, are suspected drug dealers and thieves, and we cannot deny the fact that George Zimmerman has targeted the young black man as a suspected criminal, who he perceived had some kind of intention to commit a crime in the neighbourhood. Therefore, in the process of confrontation, he shot the unarmed young black man dead.

Most of us as adult black males can visualise what this young black man went through before he was fatally shot. Personally, I experienced the negative stereotype of what is expected of a black man. On many occasions persons of other racial backgrounds approach me and ask if I have drugs to sell and when I reply to them that I do not use or sell drugs, they usually act like if they are surprised. I have experienced some folks of other racial backgrounds make racial jokes when they see a police cruiser passing and telling their black coworkers to look out, the cops are coming for them. 

In North America, the concept that certain crimes fit people of a particular race is no hidden thing and it is sometimes promoted in some media outlets. We cannot deny that Mr Zimmerman must have gravitated to this kind of negative media portrayal that associates some particular criminal activities with black males. 

However, the young black man Trayvon Martin is dead but Mr Zimmerman is alive and living as a free human being, while black folks and other people of good reasoning conscience protest against racism. But this tragedy won’t be the last racially profiling killing. Racism is alive globally in all societies where people of different race and ethnicities reside together. People who follow the Marxist ideology principles believe that capitalism is the root of racism. Some religious folks blame the devil for instilling racism in people’s mind. Many other people have their own views about racism.

However, I believe that racism will never be eliminated from society because some folks who are racists usually accuse anti-racist people of being racists too and in other cases religious doctrines and holy books’ teachings are being used to justify racism. But as I look at black people on the television news media protesting against George Zimmerman as a racist murderer, I wonder how many of them are conscious of the racial dilemma they encounter on a daily basis, even though they are sensitive enough to protest against racism and the killing of the young black man, but at the same time they are being brainwashed by the same mainstream media that are destroying the fabric of black society.

April 7, 2012


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