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Is “the media ignores black news stories” becoming an untrue cliché?

That’s my question. Is “the media/world ignores black news stories” becoming an untrue cliché?

When the news of the kidnapped girls broke, I spotted immediate outrage. Why is the media ignoring this story? Why does the world not care? Etc.

True, when the story broke, it may be that the news focused more on other things like Malaysian Airlines story and the one about a ferry. If we graph news coverage the missing 200 girls’ story could come out with less media share. But to say that No one cares is not true. “200 girls missing. No one cares!” this hyperbole is not true. Someone cares.

There are articles all around. When the story broke, articles were published. You can use Google to find these articles.

Perhaps it’s a question of front pages and the likes, but I never buy newspapers. I read news online. I watch TV news occasionally. But which media ignored the story?

To contrast – Clutch Magazine and The New York Post: Clutch magazine targets black women, and posts news that is relevant to black women. When the story of the abducted girls broke, did clutch report the story? Yes. “Militants abduct 100 girls…” http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2014/04/militants-abduct-100-nigerian-schoolgirls-bomb-capital-city-abuja/
The New York Post which doesn’t target black women specifically also reported, “Islamists kidnap 100 schoolgirls who face living hell as sex slaves” (15 April/NY Post) http://nypost.com/2014/04/15/extremists-abduct-100-girls-from-nigerian-school-after-killing-guards/

But then ten days after the story broke, Clutch published a piece that went under the title: “Why is the Media Silent about Nigeria’s Abducted Girls?” There’s one dated 23 April in the Guardian -“200 girls are missing in Nigeria. So why doesn’t anybody care?” –http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/23/200-girls-missing-nigeria-care-sewol-tragedy

There’s also an article in the Salon – “Why is the media ignoring 200 missing girls?” dated 29 April –http://www.salon.com/2014/04/30/why_is_the_media_ignoring_200_missing_girls/

Basically it appears the media is saying the media is ignoring a story. Or it says so, in the headlines of these articles.

Of course the articles in the Salon and the Guardian don’t mention race, nor are there any comments on them. May be if people commented in those articles they we’re going to say it’s because of race? But the article in the Clutch mentions race – “Over 200 little black girls were kidnapped from their school and the silence of media outrage is deafening. Twenty years later, they are still trying to find who killed Jean Benet Ramsey. They wouldn’t rest until Natalie Hollaway’s killer was put to justice. Over 200 little black girls were kidnapped from their school and are being held as sex slaves for a terrorist organization. Why are we so damn quiet?”

Which media is silent about Nigeria’s Abducted girls? Perhaps other, larger media? Which media is ignoring this story? No one cares? People were organizing marches during that time. But to say media is ignoring or silent or people don’t care is somewhat of an exaggeration. Even if it might seem to have truth to it, it is still hyperbole. A hyperbole which I think damages more than it does good. Hyperbole is hyperbole. An exaggeration is an exaggeration.

Race, Gender and Class are performances which follow a certain script. It’s a culture thing? True, aspects of the script may change. We live in a world where a question like “Is black life valuable?” is being asked by people; which I find to be a disturbing question. But it is part of the race performance; it is part of the script. The script is Black people are victims of race-based injustice and that is in fact True, but is it always true?

When a story breaks people automatically respond in that line: “People don’t care…the media ignores us…is black life valuable?” I think to publish an article on the 29 April “why is the media ignoring 200 missing girls?” is playing to a black victim hood trope. I saw a picture of Michelle Obama (8 May 2014) carrying a card written “Bring Back Our Girls”, but hours earlier I had seen posts on social media about “people not caring”. Why does the “people don’t care” trope persist even with increasing activism and coverage? Why do people publish “media is ignoring” even when coverage increases? Are we aware of this script? Is it a script at all? Even when there are marches in LA and London? You read these sorts of comments about nobody caring then a moment later you read about people organizing a march in New York or Johannesburg.

I read a comment in one of the articles dated 25 April, “Yet another example of Black girls not being worthy of attention even in the midst of horror. Unbelievable!” or “The media tends to act as if, “oh well, more dead or kidnapped Africans,” and moves on.”

Even when politicians are currently debating how to engage it this sort of comment persists.

Is “the media ignores black news stories” becoming an untrue cliché?

Personally I think people are all just biased. We all have scripts running inside our heads. When an event happens we react accordingly. Research shows that people perceive black pain being less severe than white pain. This is just perception bias. I am tempted to say the world is biased and there’s only so much you can do about that. To take it further and ask myself, if the news coverage of the missing girls was of a “healthy” amount from the get go, would I be surprised to find stories that say “People don’t care about black life” squeezed in there? Well, because of lack of response or other hindrances a rescue will entail? “Oh, they don’t care, if it were white girls they’d have saved them already?” This is Boko Haram we’re talking about after all! A terrorist group! And its a complicated situation.

I’ve only heard about the ferry accident in relation to the story about the missing girls. I didn’t know about the sunken ferry until I read about how that story received more coverage than the missing girls’ story. Even today I haven’t read or clicked any link to find out how the ferry sunk. I have no idea. What’s that? Bias. In that meantime I’ve read about a bomb explosion in Kenya, Senegal Rebel leaders declaring a cease fire, South Sudan, SA elections etc.

I think it should be considered that this trope should be dropped. “They don’t care, because its black people. Who cares?” A story should just be presented as is. If it has less coverage, like other stories don’t, activism can raise a story’s profile without playing up a trope which is damaging to say the least. A trope which I think contributes to entrenching white supremacy. Activism should be expected to raise the profile of stories, and it doesn’t hurt one bit to question if we’re merely automatically responding by playing up black victim hood script at this point. It cannot be the first utterance. Does it deserve to be? Is it proper?

This was not the first abduction. How did we know about this one? The story sparked! Activism helped to spread it? Perhaps you could say that people started marching and activism because “people don’t care, no one cares, that’s why we’re matching to make sure people care.” If people cared we wouldn’t march? If there was enough awareness we wouldn’t carry banners and demand justice? Then we bring race into it, “people don’t care because its black people suffering, that’s why we’re marching to make sure people care”. It becomes a bit complicated. Is it that black and white? Is it that simple? They don’t care because they can’t be bothered or because there are black people in it? I think this approach helps to entrench white supremacy even as it purports to fight it.

Things should be questioned and perhaps we could find that there are better ways; especially ways that don’t feed white supremacy whilst purporting to fight it. We need to examine the script this world is performing and our place in it. And hopefully see the world as clear as we possibly can.

I think – Is “the media ignores black news stories” becoming an untrue cliché? – A worthy question to ask.

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