The 'Hood and the Media


When I ministered in a mostly Hispanic Massachusetts city, I discovered something about the media that permanently changed my vision of them. Mind you, I grew up in a media family, so I had an automatic deference toward them. That all changed when I worked in "the 'hood". It was there that I learned that the media is elitist. The target audience, at least in Boston, is toward the richer suburbs west of the city. These are places that are between routes I-95 in Massachusetts and the I-495 beltway. These towns often constitute the richest in the Boston area.

When I worked in the 'hood, the media only came to the area to get close-ups of the blood and then move on. It is there that I learned that you could take two similar fatalities, one in in the city and one in the suburbs, the city fatality would be covered minimally, with a focus on the incident. The suburban one would focus on the family, the funeral, etc. It was a stark difference.

This same issue has just raised its ugly head and strangely from two nationally focused cases, one in the 'hood and one outside. They are the case of St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez who was found not guilty in the death of Philando Castile and that of comedian Bill Cosby's trial which ended in a hung jury.

National media wanted to know how is it that the jury could not reach a verdict in the Cosby trial. They learned that two jurors refused to convict the comedian. Granted it is an important trial, but it also surrounds the case of a man engaged in adultery. The case of whether or not it was consensual surrounds the issue of rape or not, the issue of whether it was adultery is without question, that fact has already been established. Obviously, the concerns of justice are always serious and this case will go to trial again.

However, the same national media effort did not gather to determine how jurors were unable to convict a police officer who shot Philando Castile seven times at point blank range, killing him in front of his partner and a four year old girl. Officers also handcuffed the woman who just witnessed her boyfriend being shot right next to her, which also meant that she could also have been shot, then they put her and her four year old daughter in the back of the car. Both of them already traumatized by the incident. Yet, Yanez was found not-guilty of shooting a man seven times when the man never shot once. I see no national focus similar to the Cosby case on why the jury voted not to convict.

Local Minnesota media indicated that the jury did not see the police officer as dishonest. However, did not Castile just inform the officer that he had a legal gun on him as part of civic duty? Did he ever indicate that he was going to fire it against the police officer? Aren't these questions that the media should have asked?

It is a series of cases that raises serious questions.

Those who know me know that my feelings on such cases including Trayvon Martin are simple and based also in my faith. Can you explain why Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin and others should be before the seat of God before their times? Do you want to justify that reality to God himself? George Zimmerman received orders by the police not to leave his truck, but left anyway. He was carrying a gun as a neighborhood watchman which he never should have been doing and ended up using it to kill Trayvon Martin who, according to court testimony, saw him as a threat.

Zimmerman was found not guilty. Yanez was found not guilty after he shot and killed Castile when he was in a car with his partner and a four year old girl. The national media is more concerned with why Cosby's trial ended in a hung jury. There is nothing wrong with pursuing that story, but you cannot say that the Castile case is less important at all. In fact, it would appear to me that the middle class and above would have a greater interest in the Cosby case because they form part of his audience. The Castile case is what happens in the 'hood in the eyes of the media's target demographic.

When I was in the Navy, I was part of a security team to protect the ship. We trained in the use of weapons, but, they trained us to shoot to maim and to stop, not to shoot to kill. Remember we were guarding a machine of war with armament that literally they feature in movies. We, however, learned that we must shoot to maim and not to kill. Every time cases such as that of Castile happen, I am always asking why shoot to kill?

Officer Yanez shot Philando Castile seven times at close range. How can one say that was even necessary. The officer's fear may have taken him over, but that does not mean he should have done what he did. It is clear in many of these cases, the prosecutor felt that a crime was committed, but the jury did not.

Meanwhile, the national media is crawling all over the Cosby case without focusing simultaneously on this case. The Cosby case is important, but is it more important than the Castile case? I do not see that.

This is why I stand by what I learned a long time ago, if you are looking for the most elitist institution in this country, it is the media. Do you need any other evidence?

#TrayvonMartin #PhilandoCastile #media

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