One night at a bar in Virginia, Martese Johnson, a twenty-year-old black male, was violated and abused by the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents. He was tackled and handled with unnecessary force, even though he was not shown to be fighting back (BBC News). Bystanders that were at the scene took pictures of Johnson on the ground covered in blood, and stated that Johnson was not being aggressive whatsoever (BBC News). Eventually, he was arrested and taken away from the pub by the ABC agents.
It is hard to believe that in our world at this point in time, there are still multiple acts of racism being portrayed. All of the cases that have been covered by the news and media may be different in the approach as to why the act was portrayed, but there is generally one thing that seems to be consistent amongst all of them: the fact that the act is from a white person of high authority. Whether it is a shooting because the officer thought that the black man had a gun, or a physical beating because they were ‘resisting arrest’, there always seems to be a controversy.
Although the specific news article took both the agents and Johnson’s points of view, most newscasts fail to do so. In most cases, the news and media will side with the authorities, claiming that the act that was pursued had been appropriate. By doing this, the media sends a message to the viewers that it is alright for white people of authority to kill helpless men and women, and that they are just doing their job in protecting our society. However, in reality, they are doing nothing but harm.
When looking at other events of anti-blackness, it can sometimes be clear that the power structures involved with the act get away from the scene without any physical or emotional punishment. For most cases, like this one, the officers involved with the crime are still put to work, just not on the field (BBC News). However, in the case of the victims, there is no sympathy.
In a world full of white supremacy, people of colour are forced to live their day-to-day lives in fear of being oppressed. While spending time with his nephew, Javon Johnson talks about his young nephews reaction to seeing the police, “He smiles, looks out the window, spots a cop car, drops his seat and says ‘Aw man uncle! Five-oh, we gotta hide!” This is a clear example of how our authority figures are scaring young black children, when really they should be seen as keepers of the peace. Instead of being seen as a source of protection, these authority figures are seen as violent because they use violence as a lens whenever dealing with people of colour. This results in multiple cases of fear of those who are supposed to protect us. With something as simple as a traffic stop, Javon Johnson states that black men “Must be aware of how quickly your hand moves to pocket for wallet or ID” because to a police officer, it could look like a threatening act.
In the cases of Michael Brown and a homeless man nicknamed Africa, the simple act of moving a hand resulted in their unfortunate deaths. Michael Brown was an unarmed black boy who was killed by a white officer who thought he was carrying a gun (Jones). Africa was a homeless black man with a mental disability who suffered the same fate when the white police officer thought that a simple move of the hand was an attempt to grab his gun (BBC News). Both of these stories show the racism that exists within people of high authority, since they are quite clearly stereotyping these black men as dangerous.
These acts of murder and hatred continue to happen and go unnoticed due to many factors, including the participation of the media. If the news and media did not continue to portray the actions of police officers in these situations as right and just, more viewers would come to realize that what they are doing is wrong. However, since the media is such a big part of our world today, society has adapted to believing everything that they say and show. In order for this problem to stop occurring, we must gain a higher level of skepticism, and take action against the wrongdoings of our authorities.
-BBC News. “US Police Shoot Homeless Man Dead in Los Angeles.” BBC News. BBC News, 2 Mar. 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31688942>.