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Baltimore 2015: A pained people, failed institutions and a biased media

Baltimore is trending. It is trending not only because a black man died due to police negligence, not only because of the violence that erupted in the past few days but also because of the way that the American media has chosen to frame the occurrences in Baltimore.

It is a factual conception that the Western media is racist and it has played out again with regards to the protests and uprisings that have occurred in Baltimore, in reaction to the death of Freddie Gray. To be specific, the American media is at it again perpetuating its usually victim-blaming when it comes to blacks. There were peaceful protests going on in Baltimore and those were not being well-documented, save for a few media outlets and a social media outlet like Twitter. The reputable, long-lived media institutions have taken preference to covering news on the looting, the police attacks, vehicle burning and riots. The internet has been lit up with headlines about violent eruptions in Baltimore, the mum who smacked her son away from the protest (what pretty much any mother would do in good faith) is now being dubbed ‘mom of the year’, a ‘hero mum’ and is fiercely becoming the star in all this uproar, while the pain of the marginalized is again being toyed with.

Definitely, violence is not what one should wish for in response to any form of injustice. It is disappointing to hear about all the destruction and looting that went on in Baltimore. Such actions are in no way an honour to the late Freddie Gray and it is proper and best that those engaging in violence take to peaceful protesting. However, to stop at that will be naive, for the dehumanization of blacks in America has been well-recorded and it is not a history, as in this so-called civilized century, to be black and poor is lethal.

The very ones that should protect the public are killing black people, state institutions are failing black people in America. How much can a mere mortal handle before patience turns into panting and a morale of ‘non-violence’ turns into a dislike for that very word? The American media is not being fair and this is too unfortunate. The media should be a catalyst for change – a voice for the voiceless, the oppressed and the marginalized. However, what we see in the case of the US media is a continuous cycle of victim-blaming, race-shaming and casting the oppressed as the masters of their own suffering. By going contrary to ensuring public justice, the American media is furthering the issues because some privileged persons buy into such conceptions of black people as warriors and trouble-makers. Now, how is this sort of a conception going to change the big issue of racially-motivated oppression that has characterized the US for centuries? Rhetorical question for some but worth the ponder for many.

Hoping for justice for Freddie Gray, healing for the hurt, an awakening of conscience for the American media and peace in Baltimore.

Peace,

Chiamaka

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