G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.
Reading the Salon take-down of Colin Flaherty’s book “White Girl Bleeds A Lot”, I came across a Buzzfeed piece which posted a screencap and a link to my piece from the Daily Caller about the black-on-white attack in Mobile, Alabama.
Both the Salon piece and the Buzzfeed piece make the same argument that “racist” conservatives like Flaherty and, I guess, myself (and plenty of others) are making much ado about nothing. From Buzzfeed:
As the Trayvon case has died down, the Caller has continued to follow the race wars with combative coverage, recently publishing an interview with the sister of an assault victim in Mobile, Ala. who claimed a black “mob” attacked him after he tried to stop a robbery.
Stories like these have plenty of detractors, who say they appeal to the worst instincts of their white audience. Curtis Lawrence, diversity chairman for the Society of Professional Journalists, said best practices generally dictate that news outlets should only identify a criminal suspect’s race when there’s evidence suggesting it was a factor in the crime — otherwise, he said, they run the risk of recklessly affirming negative racial stereotypes.
Nevermind that the Mobile beating was newsworthy because one of the mob participants made a reference to “justice for Trayvon.” That’s why the piece was picked up; it hit a vein on a very prominent news story. The author of the BF post eludes that. And there were also the reports that the kids that the white man, Matthew Owens, was scolding were using racial epithets at him before the beating occurred.
Now I’ll admit up front that much of white conservative angst over black-on-white attacks is not backed by police statistics (I’m talking about these random street-level assaults, not murder and rape). That immediately damages the argument that there is some sort of widespread problem with interracial attack. But white men are communicating from their own experience. Either they’ve been attacked themselves, know someone who has been attacked, or understand that there are quite a few areas of town or night spots that they couldn’t venture through without greatly increasing the odds that they’ll be attacked. Ask Matt Yglesias.
As for white conservatives’ belief that many of these random attacks are racially motivated – there are no reported examples that I can think of of random black men being blindsided by groups of black kids. Black studies professors make a big deal about “othering”. Blacks are treated poorly by whites because they are considered “the other”. That’s an unspoken form of racism to black studies types. Blacks randomly attacking whites should be seen as an example of “othering”. Where whites are outnumbered and/or outsiders, they become prime targets for tacitly racially-motivated attacks. Even if the attacking blacks aren’t screaming out “cracker” as they kick a white guy in the face, they are most certainly acting on a deep-seated hatred of white men.
Another aspect is that many whites don’t report their attacks. And when they do they are likely to avoid attributing either the race of their attackers or their motivations. Recently I tracked down a kid who was attacked along with two other white friends by a group of up to 100 blacks. That attack occurred alongside a few others that same weekend and in the same park in Portland. I found the kid and emailed him. His Facebook page showed that he was an Obama supporter and a social justice boy scout. He responded to my inquiry: “I don’t really want to get involved in any of the media hype about this. Have a nice day.”
All of the rhetoric aside, there have been hundreds of random black-on-white attacks in the news over the past few years – a time span during which news of these types of attacks are brought to light through the internet, unlike the past where they were underreported even more than they are now. There is something newsworthy in this trend – this pattern. And someone has to report on it.