Thursday, June 21, 2007

I'm proud of the progressive media for not racializing what happened in Texas

On June 19th a group of people beat a person to death in Austin after a car the person was in hit a child, causing non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the car had stopped and gotten out to see how the child was doing when the group of people approached and started attacking him. The passenger of the car attempted to shield the driver from the crowd and was beaten to death.

That's what happened on June 19th. The fact that the victim was hispanic and that the assailants were black, and that they were returning from a celebration in Austin of the emancipation of Texas' slaves....well, let's put it this way: even though this is all true, these elements, when combined in a certain way in the media, mean something else than that a group of people who are black attacked a guy who is hispanic after the driver of the car he was in hit a child. Instead, the subtext, unless you're really careful, would imply that this was a black on hispanic hate crime. Additionally, it's hard to talk about a group of black people attacking someone without making it seem like racist stereotypes are involved in the portrayal. It might be true, but in the media it has an automatic double meaning because of the history of that idea.

So it's a welcome thing that the progressive media, in this case Rawstory and other progressive news aggregation websites, reported the crime in ways that didn't deny that the assailants were African American but didn't promote the idea either.

In the story that Rawstory quoted, Juneteenth was explained, it was said that the people were coming back from a Juneteenth celebration, said that the victim was Hispanic, but consciously didn't connect the dots to say that the assailants were black.

This is a really good lesson in how to cover stories without falling into using racial stereotypes that could be used but that would be misleading if they were used.

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