If I were to believe everything I saw in the media, I would possibly come to the conclusion that every black man in the US is a criminal.
And this is not because I truly believe it is so.
But in the media there is a hypervisibility of black men known to us first in other respects but then subsequently branded with criminal behavior. There is the underlying assumption in the media that black men will default to some “innate” criminality.
Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, basketball icons, have been painted as adulterers who are horrible husbands to their wives. Perhaps not criminal in the legal sense, but definitely bad men in the court of morality and religion.
Bill Cosby, a comedian and actor, among other vocations, who spoke about black uplift and improvement, is now being branded as a sex offender, in the same smear campaign that branded Florida State footballer Jameis Winston, boxer Mike Tyson, and budding Supreme Court judge Clarence Thomas afoul with women.
White society has bestowed the title of “abusers” upon other black men.
Undefeated champion, greatest-of-all-time boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather served prison time for beating his wife. Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely from the NFL for an altercation with his current wife Janay Rice. Adrian Peterson was suspended for the season on child abuse charges when his child’s mother reported pictures of their son with bruises on his back, marks left from the father’s discipline.
Let’s not forget Michael Vick was called a terrible man for allowing his friends to engage in dogfighting, presumably under his watch.
OJ Simpson was liable for Nicole Brown’s death, though not proven guilty in the court of law, rather only in the court of public opinion.
Wesley Snipes and now Reverend Al Sharpton were guilty of tax evasion, whether paying late or not at all.
What’s a black man gotta do to get good publicity in the US?
The point of this recap of black men in the media is to highlight what is not being said about the accomplishments, accolades, and contributions of these men to their communities and to society at large.
Why does the media fail to cover incidents of the 80 or so percent of black men in the NFL and NBA when they do great work–when they feed the hungry or are the reason that a kid has a tuition scholarship to finish college?
What’s more, the media only covers negative stories about black men, as if white men who are athletes or celebrity figures are perfect specimens who never err on the side of bad judgment.
According to the media, white men in visible positions always act right, always pay their taxes, always treat their wives and girlfriends with respect.
And in the case that they don’t, it doesn’t matter.
Countless white politicians have been involved in sex scandals and immoral behavior. But are they vilified in the popular press?
And even if they are slandered (usually temporarily so) still get reelected into office or still resume their positions.
Because their mistakes and misgivings are forgiven, not criminalized.
So I ask: when will white society come to terms with the fact that all black men are not criminals?
Criminalizing our visible black men is harmful to us all.
Why give these events so much media coverage, but to try to convince the white populace that all black men are criminals?
Why treat someone like Adrian Peterson who is just trying to be a good father like a criminal and not like a human being?
Why ruin a black man’s reputation and livelihood just for fun?
The criminal label is damaging to black men’s futures, so let’s not be so quick to label all black men as criminals.
Let’s distinguish between mistakes and criminal acts, so as not to disenfranchise an already defenseless group of citizens.