Tears of the Ignored

The coverage of the terror attacks which happened in Paris on November 13 has been exhaustive, to say the least. Even today, reporters from major news operations are still on the ground in the beloved city, talking about what happened, humanizing Parisians who are struggling with their grief, and talking about this phenomenon called ISIS. Reports of France bombing Syria as retaliation are coming in; the apparent slip in security of French and Belgian officials is being examined, and the world is, for all intents and purposes, totally involved in what is going on in France.

But the media is doing a disservice to the narrative of pain experienced by those who have been affected by ISIS, for while the reporters are humanizing Parisian victims, and in fact, all of Parisian society, it has blatantly ignored the attack by ISIS that took place in Beirut the day before Paris was hit.

In a separate story, observers have noted that when a college in Kenya was hit by ISIS in April of this year, the story received hardly a blip of coverage. (http://www.inquisitr.com/2565791/kenya-attack-that-left-147-dead-compared-to-paris-attack-news-coverage/)  In that attack, 147 people died, and there were serious injuries.

Yet, the media seemed …and seems…not to care.

The question I am wrestling with this morning is why is it that the tears of people of color minimized? Why don’t our tears matter? I read a response of a person to the criticism of the lack of coverage in Beirut where he said, “It doesn’t matter. These things happen in that country every day.” Even if that is true, does it justify the media ignoring the pain and tears of the victims? Do their tears not count?

The lack of compassionate and objective reporting, favoring the pain of white people over that of people of color is striking. Ebola, for instance, has been a problem for years, yet it wasn’t until white people were infected that the story became big news. Drug addiction has been virtually cast aside as an issue that only affects poor, black people, a crime for which the addicts should be put away, but now that evidence shows that more and more white people are succumbing to drug addiction, and specifically, to heroin use, the reports read that drug addiction is an illness which should be treated.

When Trayvon Martin was killed, the tears and anguish of his parents was ignored. The same was true when Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sam Dubose, Freddy Gray, Renisha McBride, Jordan Davis, Jonathan Ferrell …and so many others, were killed by police. None of these people were armed, and yet they were deemed to be threats to white society and were gunned down. No media really gave the parents of these victims the time of day. Their parents wept the tears of grieving parents, tears which come from a place too deep to even describe, and yet the media ignored them…this, while they show the tears of Parisians who were badly affected by the terrorist attacks in their city on November 13.

The media is failing. Media are supposed to be objective, and yet the media continues to push the narrative of the privileged, while leaving the people deemed to be second-class citizens to fend for themselves, and ignoring their pain. These second-class citizens are dehumanized; they are not seen nor are they heard. Black people, brown people, Muslims…are ignored, cast aside as dross. Yes, the lives of the Parisians who died matter …but so do the lives of these black and brown people matter, as do the lives of Muslims and Palestinians …and all others whom the privileged have cast aside.

There is a song I learned when I was a Girl Scout. It was about the sinking of the Titanic. The second verse went something like this:

We were nearing Greenland’s shores, when the water began to pour, and the rich refused to associate with the poor. So we put them down below, where the water was sure to go. It was sad when the great ship went down, down, down.

It was supposed to be fun song; we sang it on the bus on our way to summer camp, but even as a young girl, these words bothered me, so much so that after a while, I stopped singing it. There it was – the privileged taking it upon themselves to regard their pain and safety at the expense of the underprivileged. It was a testimony to how the privileged think.

I have two children. If either were killed, by police or in street violence, I would be devastated. The tears of black and brown people are bitter and salty just like the tears of white people, and come from the same place of pain. A mother’s grief is not less if she is black, brown, Muslim, Palestinian or a member of any other marginalized group.

I no longer expect the media to be objective. It is at the behest of the powers that be who pay their bills. The tears of the underprivileged, the oppressed, the second-class citizens …simply do not matter.

A candid observation ….




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