Tuesday, June 9, 2009

only care about "gang violence" when it hits white people

Having thought for awhile now about how race works in the U.S., I know very well that in the mainstream imagination, "white" equals "normal." I also know that the most full-fledged "all-American" people are also thought to be white people.

Sometimes, though, I'm still shocked by how pervasive this kind of thinking is, and by the double standards it leads to.

I was struck again this way when I saw the following Good Morning America segment, about the death of 14-year-old Christopher Jones. He was a white suburban boy who was recently knocked off his bicycle, and then beaten and killed by a group of six kids. Two have been arrested; one, a 16-year-old, is black, and the identity of the other, a 14-year-old, has yet to be released.

For the makers of this Good Morning America segment, Christopher Jones' death is sad, but something else is the real story. That story is about the place he lived, "the suburbs," and the violation of that space by a contaminating element, a violent, racialized element that its residents thought they'd spent enough money to get away from.

The words "black" and "white" are never spoken here, and yet, that racial divide, with "normal," well-off whites on one side and "violent," impoverished blacks on the other, is what it's all about for the producers of Good Morning America.

I feel terrible for the family and friends of Christopher Jones -- no one should be treated like that, let alone die like that. At the same time, though, I can't overlook the unspoken white lens, or filter, through which this story gets told. I have to wonder -- would this story still be told this way by Good Morning America, or even at all, if Christopher and his parents were black?

Right from the start, the makers of this Good Morning America segment imply that the lives of well-off suburban white people are more noteworthy, more fundamentally valuable, than those of the implicitly non-white people who live in "the inner-city." Gang violence, and the misery and death caused by it, are presented as an old, boring story -- but not this time, because one white child died from it, in suburbia.

I find this story difficult to write about because I don't want to minimize the suffering of Christopher Jones' parents; their loss is horrific. The thing is, I think it's the producers of Good Morning America who minimize their suffering, by using it to tell a sensationalistic story about "all-American," implicitly white lives invaded by black gang violence.

The story of Christopher Jones' death is presented as a "cautionary tale" for the residents of "suburbia," an unspokenly white place where the residents have achieved "the American Dream," and thus a place where these kinds of things just shouldn't happen.

Never mind, dear viewers, that "old news" about how "gang violence" happens a lot more often in other places. To other kinds of people. And for all sorts of complicated, but addressable and workable reasons. We know you're bored with that story, about those people.

Never mind either that the relatively small group of kids who attacked Christopher Jones weren't really in what we normally call a violent, drug-dealing "gang." We're going to insist that it was a "gang," and that it committed "gang violence" against a "suburban" (and white, and thus especially innocent) child.

Among the many things Christopher's mother must have said during her interview, Good Morning America chose to highlight this statement:

"He died on our street. In suburbia. Where we paid $350,000 for a townhouse. In a neighborhood where our shutters have to match our doors."

So this becomes a story about the shocking invasion of supposedly safe suburbia. But again, this isn't just a story about people in general who've arrived at a cozy rung on the American class ladder, is it? It's really about white people who've done that; it's a safe bet that if non-white people who've done that were to lose a son in the exact same way, Good Morning America would not be in their spacious kitchen interviewing them.

To illustrate that the story being told here is also about race, that it's really all about race, imagine if a black child of black parents in that same neighborhood had been killed in this same way.

Would his story be covered by Good Morning America like this? I doubt it.

Would it even be covered at all by Good Morning America? I doubt that too.

Never mind asking if Good Morning America would cover an inner-city black or Hispanic or Asian American child's violent death with this same wide-eyed concern, and this same heart-tugging music. We know that'll never happen (though I do hope that someone will provide a link to a GMA video-clip that proves me wrong).

A quick Google search reveals that other major news outlet have also seen fit to treat Christopher Jones' death as a major story. The Washington Post, for instance, sent a reporter to his funeral. Again, I can't imagine a non-white child being described in the corporate media this way:

The images projected on the screen . . . were perhaps the most telling. Christopher appeared a normal, happy kid. He loved the Redskins. Made snowballs in the back yard. Had a boxy plastic play set. Mugged in pictures with mom.

"He was a boy's boy," said Anand Rawls, a longtime family friend. "You couldn't ask for a better son."

Again, Christopher Jones' death is horrible, and I feel for people who loved and knew him.

However, there's another horror here. As with the more familiar Missing White Girl stories, what I find appalling here is the loud-and-clear implication that Christopher Jones' story is significant because it happened to a certain kind of son, and not to another kind of son.

In other words, that other horror, which I consider symptomatic of a common white pathology, because so few white people actually see this horror, is this -- Christopher Jones was a child whose death is deemed more sad, and more alarming, than those of many other children who have died a similar death, merely because of his race, and merely because his parents live in the suburbs.


  1. A Latino boy (13 years old) was shot and killed in Oakland last month. Nobody cared. You can bet that if it had been a white kid, it would have been all over the news.

  2. Yah, I'm with you on this one 100% macon, there is so much racism and sexism and classism going on in this story one could write a book deconstructing it all I think...

  3. "I can't overlook the unspoken white lens, or filter, through which this story gets told..."

    Or through which this story developed? Tim Wise talks about how the Columbine massacre was possible because White people believed the illusion that if they just moved into a gated community, there would be no problems. The White population in the United States (and to a lesser degree, I honestly must add some selected African-Americans who are either already "honorary White folks" or who have otherwise bought the idea of White Supremacy) really believes that they can co-sign NOT addressing institutionalized oppression in the name of racism in this country without repercussions. It's like denying gangrene by putting a perfumed and ruffled sock on a diseased foot.

    The opening of Nathan McCall's book, Makes Me Wanna Holler, describes how McCall and his buddies used to look for a White kid on a bike to beat up and how satisfying it was to them to do it. And that was DECADES ago. This is NOT because African-Americans are more violent, more brutal, more anti-social or even more "racist" than White people. It's because they're enraged by the unchecked violence and brutality of this system against THEM.

    Calvin Hernton wrote in the 1960's that if we didn't address institutionalized racism in this country, we were going to wind up with a whole generation of young people with what he called "the psychology of the damned" -- youth who would be unreasonable if not insane, who would be unwilling to "sit down at a table and discuss the problem" because they would feel they had nothing left to lose.

    Two of the lines I repeat routinely are "Wherever you find oppression, you will find social conflict" and "No people will ever allow themselves to be oppressed forever."

    This child's death is a true tragedy. But the tragedy is not so much for me in the singular isolated incident of a senseless killing (which this obviously was), but in the context that birthed the incident, the reality that it (and all the other horrific manifestations of oppression that are unfolding even as we write) could have been prevented, and the fact that I'll warrant NOBODY in the mainstream media will even mention that.

  4. I have long noted the different treatment given to white people that are the victims of crimes as compared to people of other races. The difference is very real and I have no doubt that racism/sexism plays a significant role. However, I would be very curious to see the viewer demographic breakdown for the various programs compared to their treatment (or lack thereof) of various stories.

    It certainly seems that all news/talk programs on television focus on sensationalism as a means to drive ratings. My guess is that the average viewer for Good Morning America is white, suburban females, age 35-55. If you want to scare the bejesus out of that demographic (and keep them watching through the break and tuning in tomorrow) you run stories about horrible crimes in suburban white neighborhoods.

    Again, I'm not arguing that virulent racism/sexism doesn't play a roll, but I also think there is something to be said about the networks "selling" what the audience is "buying."

  5. First off, about Christopher. There is no excuse and absolutely carry out a FAIR investigation and distribute FAIR justice. A stacked white jury should certainly be avoided. Also, it's obvious that anyone-on-white crime gets more sypathy and airplay. Here are a few select quotes from news stories which wreak of stereotyping and/or privilege:

    "They tracked him down like an animal and that's what's so horrific to us," said Andrea Beach, a Crofton resident.

    "He died on our street in suburbia where we paid $350,000 for a townhouse in a neighborhood where our shutters have to match our doors," she said.

    "County police and officials this week unveiled a new program to target gang-related crime in Crofton using a surge of officers and even a mobile command unit."

    "Despite his parent's best efforts, 14-year-old Christopher Jones was killed by a juvenile gang in a cushy suburban neighborhood in Maryland."

    I also want to add my two cents about what I see as some of the bigger picture issues. I'll do so in another comments.


  6. (continued)

    All the sane people who crave peace better start sticking together. The failure to integrate the immigrant population (mostly Mexican but also Eastern Europeans and others)or establish coherent immigration reform, neo-liberal economic globalization resulting in dehumanizing McJobs, and the rising paranoid perception of many whites about losing "their" country are just some of the factors leading to more hate and violence generally and, specifically, more of an "ethnic cleansing" aggressive attitude by gangs of all colors, including the rapidly multiplying white right-wing extremist gangs.

    We all have our piece of shit hoodlums, regardless of color. But, here, we have another excellent example of why whites dropping attitudes of superiority and privlege is in their own best interest.

    Fragmentation means disunity in labor, social justice, and political movements. All those factors mean we surrender even more power to the corporate kleptocracy.

    Fragmented people + lower wages and benefits + no job security + feelings of hopelessness = a bunch of people who just don't give a fu$k anymore, which leads to more hate and more violence.

    Poor whites and people of color absorb or reduce alot of shocks in society. However, in my opinion, the chickens are coming home to roost for years of disunity that have led to a weak labor class, paranoia, and erosion of rights in general.

    I believe, if we continue on this path, the comfortable white spaces are gonna get rocked with previously unknown violent crime as a resuolt of years of turning a blind eye and/or relying on a heavily biased law enforcement and judiciary to make the "undesireables" go away.

    I know this sounds gloom and doom, so I need to qualify. This is a TREND I see, not something that's gonna happen tommorow. The bottom line to me is that the disunity creates the conditions ripe for criminality and feelings of paranoia and hopelessness.

  7. "He died on our street in suburbia where we paid $350,000 for a townhouse in a neighborhood where our shutters have to match our doors," she said.

    When will people learn you can't buy your way out of violence or drugs.

  8. Come on, Macon. You've never heard the following on a newscast:

    "That stuff doesn't happen around here."

    "That stuff isn't supposed to happen here."

    When I interned at a local Philadelphia t.v. station, I would often heard those refrains. When I would follow-up with "Well, where is it supposed to happen?" I would get dumbfounded looks of "I want to say it; but, you might put your fist down my throat, if I do." It's disgusting.

    However, now living in Southern CA, I do see some stories of black and Hispanic "good" kids murdered by gang violence. Maybe it's because it's more prevalent here.

    Nevertheless, I'm sick of the "Good White Kid" syndrome in the Media. But, this harkens back to your previous post about not carrying about anyone 's death unless they are white.

    As a child, I thought white people didn't have true empathy or sympathy for anyone besides themselves. I wish I could reverse that as an adult; but, I truly have yet to experience it.

  9. "If you want to scare the bejesus out of that demographic (and keep them watching through the break and tuning in tomorrow) you run stories about horrible crimes in suburban white neighborhoods."
    And happening to their (collective) children...

  10. I think Uncle Rico has a great point about while 'the white lens' definately does have an effect, an important aspect to this is the fact that Good Morning America is aimed at Suburban Moms and as such will do everything they can to scare them silly.

    I also agree with Honeybrown. I live in San Diego and see weekly stories about how this or that 'good' brown/black kid getting killed/caught up in gang violence.

    But yes, everybody loses their collective shit when it is a white kid.

    But here's the thing I disagree with you about. Right now, this story is being present as white kid killed by a black gang (at least that's the title of the youtube clip). I think, if the roles were reversed and a story was presented about a suburban black kid killed by a gang of whites I think it would get a ton of attention.

    It would just be completely different narrative from completely different venues.

  11. I get what you're saying Macon, I really do. At the same time: what do you think the coverage would have been like if this had been a black kid beaten to death by four or five white kids? This would have quickly been labeled a hate crime, and the amount of coverage would have grown exponentially.

    And before we question whether or not the other kids were black:

    1) There was a picture of the 16-year-old with his fellow gang members, and the other kids with him appeared to be black.

    2) How many racially integrated gangs are you aware of?

    I have a few other questions:

    Is being a victim of racism and or classism justification for beating a 14-year old to death? Why or why not?

    Is this a hate crime? Why or why not?

    How should the possibility that these boys were reacting to the "unchecked violence and aggression of the system" influence what happens to them at this point?

  12. Wow. Nice.

    For everyone's information, I live in Odenton, the town right over from Crofton.
    Chris went to my school (Arundel) for most of the school year, as did the kids who killed him.
    This is the first time any violence has EVER happened here in this town. Yes, people have been killed around here before, but they're usually shot, or adults, or robbed. Not saying that isn't horrific, but Chris was FOURTEEN. HE WAS BEATEN TO DEATH. He died in absolute agony and pain.
    I hate how all these new stations are just projecting it wrong.
    Let me tell you, I went to Chris' candlelight vigil and three of the girls who were on the ground, sobbing the most were BLACK girls. Black guys are the ones who have threatened the guys who had anything to do with Chris' death.
    So yeah, the media tries to make it about race- but this is a shock here and it would've been a shock here no matter the color of his skin.

  13. Oh please ... what about all the stories of the black kid "that got shot and killed that was finally getting his life together and was the father of a baby girl," yadda yadda yadda ... we are inundated day after day with these stories. What about Channon Christian and Christopher Newsome, hardly a word mentioned about them in the media being brutally attacked, tortured and both raped and killed by 4 black men and a black woman. If the races had been reversed, you KNOW CNN would have been all over that. Horrible White people and all that ... it is good to be warned like this ... I would not live near a bunch of single black mothers with sons ... the majority cannot control them and there are no fathers or real men anymore. You are so naive. And you are a racist yourself ... a guilty brainwashed white boy self-loather. Wake up ... this was extremely sad no matter what color the boy was. The parents who spawned these thugs that killed this boy should be jailed and sterilized.

  14. Anonymous #1 - the point went completely over your head. No one's saying that it wasn't a sad incident; however, once again, his story is nationally taken precedence over any one else's no matter who sobbed for him or not. There are racial implications whether or not you choose to accept it.

    Anonymous #2 - yadda, yadda, yadda, yeah it doesn't matter what side of your mouth you are speaking out of. Your racist stench is showing and isn't desired here. The funny thing is that you are probably one of those folks who live in a town loaded with pedophiles and other registered sex offenders.

    But, oh no, you have to watch out for those black single mothers and their kids, despite the possible white single mother raising someone that'll harbor sick sexual fantasies about your son or daughter. Pity on you. It's must be sad to imbecilic and proud of it. Don't bother looking up the definition of "imbecilic". Just take a look in the mirror. I live in suburb with many sexual offenders; but, as long as the number of black and Latino families moving in stay down, most of the inhabitants are considered "safe". Good luck with that logic.

  15. Hey myblackfriendsays, that's a lotta questions!

    I see Anonymous @ 4:20 agrees with some of what you're saying . . .

  16. Blanche DevereauxJune 10, 2009 at 7:59 PM

    Oh sweet baby Jesus, I knew it was a matter of time before someone stormed in here to defend the "outrage" of this community. No one on this site is saying that what happened is not tragic. However, the purpose of this blog is to explore trends, institutions and attitudes that allow racism to cast a negative shadow on the lives of our fellow human beings. If you want somewhere to grieve for your loss I suggest you create your own blog in Christopher's memory. However, if you are looking for a place to unpack the knapsack and explore your "some of my best friend's are black" attitude, then you are in the right place.

  17. J.M. Perkins,

    I very much disagree with your saying that right now it's a "gang" of black kids that killed a suburban white kid and the coverage would be the same if it were a "gang" of white kids" that killed a suburban black kid.

    It was only two kids that murdered Christopher. At least from what I know,the assailants were LATER identified as gang members and the gang was not a black supremacist gang. Also, as far as I know, there has been nothing to show that the defendants were screaming racial epithets or this was a purely racially motivated incident.

    I do agree with you that the suburbs (classism) plays a role, but I think that racial motivation and hate would have to be WELL ESTABLISHED to draw anywhere near the attention, and certainly it would take longer to go viral.

  18. J.M. Perkins,

    I want to correct myself. Two kids were arrested, but there were at least 3 more kids in the group/gang of kids.

  19. Macon,

    Is there any way we can drop the Anonymous commenters without screwing up your blog? There are some people that come here for the sole intent of defending whites and whiteness at all cost.

    If they are debunked, they get the attention they crave and direct us away from legitimate discussion. If they are not debunked, then we have these ridiculous statements floating around without challenge.

    I would debate a white supremacist on a public square, no problem. But, unless I'm mistaken, this blog is about responsible examination of race relations, with emphasis on understanding the traditionally unexamined culture of whiteness.

  20. Why don't black people self-flagellate in front of the world when something like this happens and explore some of the causes (besides the fact that the white man "oppresses" them and is evil)? Why is it always the white people, when some man get dragged behind a truck by some toothless rednecks, that self-flagellate, hang their heads in public, bring out the National Guard and explore "racism." It's so hypocritical ... you expect one standard from one set of people, and a different one from another, and you justify it by "slavery" and "institutional racism" ... black people want unearned respect and white people want unearned friendship. And white people will bend over backwards to get it because instead of being people with dignity, they want to assuage their "collective guilt" (and this will never be assuaged because racism, is a big money-maker for race pimps and the liberal elite) and are cowards.

  21. Lovely. I see we have another person who thought he'd come in here and comment after watching the Glenn Beck show.

  22. "There are some people that come here for the sole intent of defending whites and whiteness at all cost."

    Macon, I am not defending "whiteness" ... I am not a white supremist, I am not an "imbecil" as Honeybrown deemed fit to call me, or a "racist" ... I'm not even technically "white" (according to some politcally correct government checkboxes) ... black people ask me stupid questions all the time about "what I am", but that's ok ... if they were white, then the questions would be considered ignorant and silly, of course ... there are other sides to every story, and it seems to me that people tend to look at things one-sided, however they are schooled to look at them. I just find so much of this stuff hypocritcal and one-sided and full of contradicting facts ... I will not post anymore ... cdwriteme has a point, there is a theme to your blog ... and dissenting views are not wanted. Maybe "stuff white people do" is for white people who grew up without knowing anyone of a different ethnic group or color and is a learning experience, I don't know. I hope you are learning something you need to know from it. Just remember that ... sometimes the truth isn't very popular with most of the sheeple.

  23. Anonymous,

    Why don't you use a regular user name? Then, you can develop a history here and people can decide how they feel about your company.

  24. cdwriteme, I don't know how to turn off the Anonymous function in the comments section (which is why I put a request above the comment-writing box that those tempted to write anonymously choose a name instead). If anyone else on Blogger knows how, please let me know.

    Regarding what I gather is another question of yours -- why do I let white supremacists post comments here -- I usually don't. Those kinds of comments are one reason I began moderating comments, and I especially reject those that fail to deal in much of any way with a post's real substance. I let one by once in awhile, though -- if it's not insulting of others here and if it deals with the post's actual topic --to remind the rest of us of what these people have to say, and to give us some practice in answering them.

    Anyone else have thoughts on this?

  25. Macon,

    Try going to "customize my blog" then "settings" then "comments" then make the change at the "Who Can Comment?" section

  26. Blanche DevereauxJune 11, 2009 at 6:07 AM

    Oh, hai Anonymous. I see you're back. You know, someone should really do an essay on "The Stages of Acknowledging White Privilege". Right now, I would say you're at the "There's no such thing as white privilege" stage. That means, you're grasping at straws to prove that minorities are equal with whites (maybe you think they're better off in some cases?)when that is just not the case. I haven't decided if you are overwhelmed by what you've discovered, or if you're unwilling to learn in depth about racism, but that will show itself soon. Since you seem to have a bit of spare time, might I suggest some further reading in addition to this blog?
    You should familiarize yourself with Peggy McIntosh http://www.case.edu/president/aaction/UnpackingTheKnapsack.pdf And let's not forget Robert Jensen http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/freelance/whiteprivilege.htm Macon D has fantastic links in the numerous articles he's posted. You should take some time from arguing your point and use this opportunity to expand your mind. Who knows, you may come out a different person.

  27. Thanks cdwriteme, I've done that, but these are the only options listed there:

    * Anyone - includes Anonymous Users
    * Registered Users - includes OpenID
    * Users with Google Accounts
    * Only members of this blog

    I don't want to disallow people who haven't registered but who do use a name. By my count four different people of that sort appear in this thread alone (Honeybrown1976, Linda, Eusthenopteron, and Blanche Devereaux).

    I've considered changing the words above the comment box so they say that Anonymous comments won't be published, but this blog gets a lot of good comments by people who for whatever reason don't pick a name.

    I don't see a perfect solution here.

  28. Well, don't that suck. Alright.

  29. Well, I've always felt that being "Anonymous" is cowardly. If you feel strongly about something, why not let your identity known? Oh, yeah cowardice. I guess you can moderate helpful posts as some choose to hide behind their cowardice with anonymity.

    It's imbecile, not imbecil. Thanks for proving my point once again. Keep it up. Somehow, somewhere I hope you attain some knowledge or seek treatment for whatever is blocking knowledge from entering your cranium.

  30. Can a white person beat a black person to death without it being racially motivated?

  31. [Anonymous, stop submitting comments as Anonymous -- then I'll consider publishing them. We can't tell which Anonymous you are in this discussion thread.]

  32. Why do you ask, myblackfriendsays? What's on your mind?

  33. I ask because I want to know the answer to that question, and the other questions I asked previously. I'm interested to hear what people think (:

  34. [Okay, so it's Leila. You're still messing up, though -- if you want your comments published in this thread, put your name in the Name/URL function (you don't have to enter a URL), and do not resort to abusive, childish name-calling. Respond to what people say, not to who you think they are.]

  35. Oh Macon,
    Please don't change the rules. I'm not technically savvy and therefore I don't know how to make a username without starting a new email address--something I don't want.

    I've already can't see C1's blog anymore because I didn't know how to do that. I had to go through withdrawal to get his blog out of my system :)

  36. Don't worry, Moviegirl, as I wrote above, I don't see a better way to deal with comments here.

    Btw, who's C1?

    myblackfriendsays, I asked because your questions seem like leading ones, and if they are, I think you'd contribute more here if you said what's on your mind, and then asked a question or two. But if not, that's okay. As for whether a white person can ever beat a black person to death without it being racially motivated, I don't really know. I can imagine white-on-black beating scenarios that aren't initially motivated by race, but beating to death? That's such an extreme beating that it's difficult to imagine race not being at least one motivation. I'd be interested to hear what others think (and again, any thoughts you might have on the matter).

  37. Hi Macon,

    I thought it was ignorant of Honeybrown to call me an imbecile and then get a self-righteous high off a silly spelling mistake. That is acting like a jackass. I also think it is racist to infer that white people are moreso pedophiles than black when it is not the truth. It also had nothing to do with the subject of your post.

    I admit that adding "jackass" was childish and inflammatory. I was angry.

  38. Im sorry but I cant help but feel like white people also face racism. It gets my heart pumping when I see that there are blogs titled "stuff white people do" That my friends is racist! If the race of both parties would be reversed there would be a huge outrage talking about how racist white people are, but I really dont see anyone blaming the criminals just because they are black. I actually saw the news coverage and never even knew the race of the criminals until I stumbled upon these blogs (Im doing a research essay) You have to understand that racism is going both ways. I CANNOT go to certain neighborhoods because of my race. My close friend Joyce has told me when it is ok to come to her house because certain neighbors hate white people and will not give me as an individual a chance. But I know she is welcomed in mine anytime, and Im not saying that is true everywhere, Im not blind. But we need to take a stand to stop this cycle and we need to do it together, Not by putting down each other. I absolutly do not agree with people who cannot take responsibility for their own actions. I pray for all families involved, the people in the community. I am sorry if this site is not for blogs like mine, I will not continue to ruin it.

  39. myblackfriend,

    Can a white person beat a black person to death without it being racially motivated?

    Asbolutely. We are all individuals and will have all sorts of motivations to do things, both legal and illegal.

    That said, regardless of which is the victim and which is the attacker, a black/white beating death will almost always be treated as racially motivated by the media and politicians because too many of them benefit from it one way or another. It will drive ratings, it will generate air time, and, if they get really lucky the reaction to the situation will become a story itself allowing them to drag it out for several more days/weeks.

    I guess my point is that the two groups that seem to discuss such things the most in public forums, politicians and the media, care more about ratings and attention than the truth and will do everything they can to find a racial angle whether it exists or not.

  40. Ashley, you have met with some discrimination; but, not racism. Sure, you've probably met some disdain in your life. Yet, it still pales (excuse the pun) in comparison. I'm really exhausted by the "I've met racism in my life, too" imaginary arguments by some people. Discrimination does not equate to racism as a whole. We are all faced with discrimination in some form throughout our lives; however, racism is a lot deeper and systematic than being ostracized at one event or called "white bitch".

  41. Ashley, white people face prejudice, not racism. Prejudice + power, white people have it, people of color don't.

  42. I didn't think that my questions were leading, but I understand that people can interpret the same things in different ways. I also think that I contributed sufficiently in my initial comment on this post, as well as other comments that I've made on previous posts on this blog.

    My questions are an attempt to better understand what is going on with you Macon, and also with your readers.

    What do you think would happen if Good Morning America did a story about a black kid in a non-suburban neighborhood getting tackled on his bike and beaten to death by a group of black gang members? And instead of saying "in a place that you least expected it," they said "this happened in the neighborhood where most of the gang activity takes place"

    Think about it...

    And since you don't like me to ask questions without answering them, I'll tell you what I think would happen.

    Some people would complain that the media is using its immense power and influence to perpetuate negative stereotypes of black people as violent and aggressive.

    Again, as Walter Sobchak would say, "Am I wrong?" If you think the response would be something different, I'm all ears.

    But if you agree with me, this begs the question: wtf are they (the media) supposed to do? How are they _supposed_ to cover stories like this one?

    I've got a lot more to say, but I'll end it here--for now ;)

  43. Leila, once again, you don't make any sense.

    You made a ridiculous statement about not wanting to live next to single black mothers for fear of their children (own up to it) among other unsubstantiated ones. I made the reference because you are more likely to have registered sex offenders living near you than any other perpetrator. In my affluent neighborhood and among others, the rates for sexual offenders in the areas (along with their mug shots) are high.

    Statistically, white straight males are more likely to be pedophiliac than any other group (deal with it). There's no racism linked in there at all. If I made blanketed statements like you, I would be a racist. The presented information by Macon, myself or any other commentators is not either. It seems as though when faced with rational thought, the name-calling begins. If you are not desiring an introspective perspective, do us a favor and not come here.

    However, if you are TRULY open to real discussion without the need for unsubstantiated comments from "The Book of Self-Created, Imaginary, Pathological and Just Plain Wrong Notions on Race", keep walking.

  44. I do not want to live among single black mothers because they cannot control their male children, who behave like animals. I lived among them. So you deal with it, it is a truth and also a statistic. I also know there are many black pedophiles ... whether there are more white than black, I do not know the statistics (I'm sure you can direct me to the police or FBI pages) but there are many more white people in the US than black ... and the photos in my area on the local public network have a ratio of half and half (black/white).

    I say what I see, I won't walk on eggshells for the sake of politcal correctness and I'm not afraid of being called a racist ... it has sort of become a meaningless, overused word nowadays anyway.

    You stated that white single mothers tend to bring up pedophile sons ... this may be true. I would also add effeminate sons. My point was not that black single mothers are ooooh-sooo-baaaad but that from what I observe, male children desperately need strong loving fathers.

    I was not the one who began the name-calling.

    "If you are not desiring an introspective perspective, do us a favor and not come here."

    I guess I am not in line with the spirit of this blog, so I will do you the favor.

  45. myblackfriendsays, it seems like you're saying the corporate media are damned if they do and damned if they don't, but I don't think that's true. Regarding your hypothetical reversal, I think my judgment of such a story would depend on how it's done, not merely on the fact that it's done.

    How are they supposed to cover stories like this one, you ask? I'm not sure which one you mean -- that of Christopher Jones, or that of your hypothetical case. If the former, they could cover it less melodramatically, for one thing. Do you see what I'm saying in the post about how the story seems geared for a white, middle-class audience? If so, then I'll ask you -- how would Christopher Jones' story be told differently if the GMA producers had a wider audience in mind than their apparent target audience? What might they de-emphasize, and what might they say, and emphasize, instead?

    As you said, "think about it..."

  46. Leila, children aren't animals. They are human beings. If you can't see that, you are proof positive of what this blog tries to fight against, or enlighten those willing to change their pathology. No, you haven't lived amongst all single, black mothers. But, of course, in your justification, individuals account for the group.

    The effeminate remark appeared as a jab as homosexual men, which is also revolting. But, whatever hardens your heart will soon soften by choice or consequence. I wish you the best.

    As for the imbecilic statements, I judge as I see them. Good day to you.

  47. Again Honeybrown, you misread what I wrote. I wrote that they BEHAVE like animals. When 14,15 year old boys can attack a mother and her 12 year old son, force them at gunpoint naked into a bathtub, beat them with baseball bats and broomsticks, perform on them and make them perform with each other unspeakable sex acts, beat and try to blind the 13 year old with cleaning fluids, then leave them for dead, I say they are behaving worse than animals.

    As for the effeminate remark, of course you would interpret that as a jab at homosexuality because you stereotype me and sanctimoniously believe you know what's going on in my head. I was stating what I have observed, as you were in stating that white mothers moreso give birth to pedophiles. Maybe there is some truth to it. But there are definite statistics as to the fatherlessness of violent boys, especially who join "gangs."

    Individuals do NOT account for a group. As I said, I am observing trends that I have experienced. Only a fool would ignore what they observe over and over again.

    My heart is not hard. I just will not sit down and sing kumbaya until ALL truths are acknowledged and people take responsibility for their own actions. I am sick of excuses and fingerpointing and hypocrisy and people slanting the truth to fit their own agenda. Truth has many legitimate angles.

  48. Yes, Leila, I read about that incident a couple of years ago. But, you are accounting a couple of incidents to represent a whole. That is still pretty bad as there are more responsible single mothers out there. I'm not denying the need for fathers, which would state the obvious. But, the way that you wrote it, you came down on an entire group of people without citing those specific incidents, which is problematic.

    At least we are discussing the issues. Maybe it's a start.

  49. If a black kid had been beaten to death by a bunch of white kids it wouldve been all over he news as 'racist whites commit hate crime'. You think you're worse off because your black, because the media portrays whites as the benchmark? Try being white and having every crime thats not against another white classed as racism or a hate crime, And non whites milk it for all its worth. Truth be told, per captia among race, blacks and latinos are more violent, why do you think you get a bad image in the media? A generation of wannabe gangsta's acting in a ludacris fashion and living a degenerate subculture doesnt help you in the eyes of whites. Your not the only ones in the world who suffer from the media. I live in Australia and its the same here, whenever its a crime, the race is only ever told when the person is white. Whites are even being blamed for the attacks on indian students even though the attackers have been asian and black! Stop playing the victim card, and especially on this story you are writing about, if you had any decency you would accept the facts, the boy was an innocent white child who was beaten by out of control black kids. If it didnt happen so often then maybe you wouldnt have the perception of the media that you do.

  50. ABC News has many articles on the death of Jamil Shaw. Here is one segment:


    Chris Jones was a normal kid that was not involved in criminal activity, as was Jamil Shaw. Obviously, this makes their deaths harder for society to accept. Therefore, they make the news headlines.

  51. Anonymous, it's so hard being white.

    Here's your violin.

    Play it when you get a fair loan rate.

    Play it when you have your choice of living arrangements/neighborhoods.

    Play it when you are constantly seen as the "norm" of society.

    By the way, you do know the blog's owner is white?

    Play the violin again for being portrayed by a fellow white American.

  52. Just wanted to say that i am white and not ALL places are like that. I want to say that I agree with you 100% on what you said about the coverage of christopher's death. I am from Mississippi and, at least where i am from, if anyone gets killed, no matter the race, the news covers it. But today's society is definitely filled with too much racism. So good work on the post..i enjoyed reading it..it really made me think.

  53. Note: I had a whole long response to your response to my response typed out and in the course of revising, accidentally chopped out the majority of it. What is written below is all that remains. I am going to take as a sign from the universe. Enjoy...

    One sentence of your post stood out for me, about how gang violence occurs, "for all sorts of complicated, but addressable and workable reasons."

    I really wish that you would use your white privilege and make that sentence (and the ideas behind it,) more of a focus for your blog, instead of telling a mother of a 14-year old dead son (and your readers,) that she's only on the news because she's rich and white.

    We need fewer dead boys--of all colors.

  54. @myblackfriendsays

    You said:

    "One sentence of your post stood out for me, about how gang violence occurs,'for all sorts of complicated, but addressable and workable reasons.'

    I really wish that you would use your white privilege and make that sentence (and the ideas behind it,) more of a focus for your blog, instead of telling a mother of a 14-year old dead son (and your readers,) that she's only on the news because she's rich and white."


    I think you're out of touch. This blog is called "stuff white people do". So, the posts are designed to note phenomena that manifest from the central issue of white privilege and then discuss them. The posts themselves are simply observations. In response, comments lead to more detailed discussions.

    I belive, first, that the post's message is accurate. For example, if "Keisha Holloway" went missing in Aruba instead of Natalie Holloway, we might have never even heard about it.

    Beyond that, I think there is a very important lesson to be learned here about how to find more permanent solutions to gang activity.

    Addressing proximal causes of gang activity such as overcrowding, poverty, internalized racism, lack of opportunities, etc... is important but will never be a solution.

    For more permanent solutions, we need to look at those things that approximate "root" causes, of which I believe white privilege is one.

    Since the 17th century, working class whites have been selling out slave/working class people of color to the detriment of both groups.

    In modern times, it works something like this. Multinational corporations and government collude to make America more and more Wall Street friendly and less and less worker friendly. A healthy reaction would be greater solidarity among the working class to reverse the trend through political power.

    White privilege, above all else, however, gets in the way. Because the addiction of whites to their whiteness and the relative advantages it entails, they are leery of solidarity with people of color.

    So, they make the fatal flaw of enforcing a system that is gradually causing their own oppression because they can only see the 'here and now' special status they have.

    It's so misguided that many working class whites actually feel like they have more in commone with the white executives making $300,000 a year than they do the Black (etc..) man that works next to them for $25,000 a year.

    So, back to the post. As long as whites continue to protect and enforce what has been an increasingly inhumane system rather than joining with non-whites as equals in order to redefine it, the types of disparities that increase gang activity will always exist.

    Give non-whites more bachelor degrees, whites will get more master's degrees and minimal education requirements for jobs will increase. Build higher quality homes in poor areas, whites will eventually manipulate economic regulations then move in and gentrify the area. Give more financial assistance to needy families, the local "free market" will raise prices as they still have the demand.

    In other words, as long as we allow our society to be a "dog eat dog" society and as long as whites are addictted to feeling superior and their relative privileges, they will use what advantages they have to continuously change the rules of the game in order to maintain dominance.

    Until white people, as a group, can see how their attitudes and actions are self-defeating (i.e. "having a bigger piece of a turd"), the continuing assault on "average Americans" by the greedy elite will cause poverty, overcrowding, substance abuse, etc...to rise and gang activity will, thus, increase.

  55. Is It Miss or Mr. Thing?September 8, 2009 at 9:16 PM

    Why is there gang violence in the first place?

    By the way, black-on-white crime won't get the kind of press a white-on-black crime gets.

  56. It is an interesting thing to see how almost every poster keeps referring to the "story". In my opinion, the “story” is not the most troubling thing.

    A boy was beaten to death by a group of other boys.

    Take aside race, gangs, suburbia, and all of the other words so frequently used by news-casters and posters alike - and you are left with that fundamental fact.

    As a father of 3, I could care less about where something bad might happen or the race might be of the person doing it. The important part is that this should never happen.

    Everyone here keeps picking apart news stories and relating some example of racism, sexism, or some other kind of evil they have learned about. All of which I agree with - but the fact remains that this boy's death should not be about the news story or the ignorance of some people living in our world. As sad as it is to say, prejudices will continue to exist as long as parents continue to teach them to their children.

    As long as we keep referring to each other as "black" or "white" or "Latino" - we reinforce the same bigotry for which we condemn others. "Stuff White People Do" - Really? Is that appropriate? Are you tearing down any barriers to race with this blog?

    Will we ever recognize each other as brothers and sisters if we keep negatively differentiating ourselves from each other? There are positive differences that make us all unique, but no one talks about those.

    A boy was killed by a group of boys for no reason and that is a tragedy beyond anything else that can be said. No matter the race of the victim or the boys who murdered him.

    It is evident from the majority of the postings on this site that race and the way the crime is portrayed are far more important than the crime itself. Almost everyone has listed his death as a side note.

    " - yes his death is a tragedy......BUT"

    But? There is an exception to that statement? A qualifier?

    Get off of your high horses and start discussing the real problem.....violence in any form against any person.

  57. I must apologize. First for making so many generalized statements about the "posters" on this blog and secondly for standing on my own soap box and telling others to get off of their high horses. I wrote my comments in haste and with feeling, not thinking all the way through.

    I only read the first few posts and then began typing my response. After reading everything and learning a bit more about the nature of this blog, I realize why some people posted what they did.

    I came to this blog after doing a Google search. Chris' story touched me deeply. Not because of his skin, but because I am a father.

    As most parents would agree, there is nothing more precious and wonderful to me in the entire universe than my children. I can only hope that they will inherit a world with less hate and more love.

    I don't mean to criticize anyone's points or views (save the obviously disturbed few), I simply feel like all of the talk about how the story was covered detracts from the real issue....the same issue this blog addresses. Hate.

    As with anything, there is a full spectrum of hate. From genocide to the seemingly insignificant racial/cultural joke shared in private.

    I appreciate this blog and I think it is a wonderful place to be able to exchange ideas and feelings. At the same time, I wish there was not a need for it to exist.


Please see the "commenting guidelines" before submitting a comment.

hit counter code