“April 4,” the young lady at the gym said as I signed my name to a form and stopped to think of the date. April 4, which will always mean just one day to me, that day 47 years ago when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. I still remember the tears that would not stop and still feel the impact of his life and his death.
I was seventeen years old, finishing my first year at the University of Chicago, full of the excitement of the university and the city and the tension between being a student on the south side and learning community organizing on the north side, praying Sunday mornings at St. Dominic’s Catholic masses in Cabrini Green and Saturday mornings at soulful, prayerful, songful Operation Breadbasket meetings at Chicago Theological Seminary.
I believed then that if people just knew of the injustices happening in our streets and communities, if they just saw what I saw and heard what I heard, the world would change. Well, it did. Just not enough.
So the struggle continues. And here are some of the stories from this morning’s news, offered in the hope that one reader will tell another and more people will know what injustices are still happening, and add their voices and hands to the continuing struggle to change the world.
The photo comes from Iowa. The story comes from Vox —
“When it comes to race and crime, media bias is a huge problem
“Whatever happened, the story has attracted attention because the contrast in the photos of the black and white suspects is a visual reminder of a problem that transcends the outlets’ handling of these two burglary cases: media bias against African Americans.”
Media bias in reporting on crime is pervasive. Media Matters recently reported two studies that show the degree of bias in New York City reporting. The television reports of black suspects being arrested for crimes were substantially higher than the actual proportion of black suspects arrested.
‘In The Black Image in the White Mind, authors and Professors Robert Entman and Andrew Rojecki explained that exposure to images and reports of African-Americans as criminals reduces white viewers’ empathy and ‘heightens animosity’ towards African-Americans. Entman and Rojecki added that the media’s overrepresentation of blacks as criminals could also ‘reduce apparent and real responsiveness of White-dominated society to the needs of poor minorities.'”
Story after story reports that black people are stopped, arrested, convicted and imprisoned in numbers out of proportion to actual crimes committed. Of course that’s not the only disparity — health, employment, income, education, housing — disparities persist in all areas, and the continuing corrosive presence of racism and discrimination are well-documented. One final example from this morning’s social media posts:
Thanks to Shannon Gibney for the Facebook post, and to Mother Jones for the article that explains:
“‘Stopped by the cops again wish me luck.’
“That’s the message Chris Rock paired with a selfie on Monday, capturing what is apparently the third time in just seven weeks the comedian has been pulled over by police. It’s not known why police stopped Rock during these three separate incidents, but the succinct caption alone sums up what’s clearly a routine event for him as a black man in America…”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led struggles against injustice. He refused to limit his advocacy to issues of race, insisting on building multi-racial coalitions against poverty and speaking against the war in Vietnam. His voice was his strongest weapon.
The Department of Homeland Security repeatedly tells us, “If you see something, say something.” Let us claim that slogan for the struggle for justice. If you see injustice, say something. Talk to your family and friends. Advocate for justice. If you don’t, who will?