the media & grieving Black women

The producers at CNN decided that it was a good idea to interview one of Alton Sterling’s family members after the shooting deaths of three Baton Rouge police officers. The sequence in which the interview came during live coverage of this breaking news astounded and disgusted me. The issue that immediately should be addressed is the framing of this entire ‘story.’

While Fox News quickly blamed the Black Lives Matter organization for these killings, CNN responded by showing a clip of Alton Sterling’s aunt, Veda Washington-Abusaleh, condemning the shootings. I wonder why they would follow with a soundbite from her in the midst of all of the grief that she is experiencing.

Alton Sterling’s funeral happened Friday, July 15th. This shooting came the following Sunday. Her emotions are still raw. Leave her alone. Her nephew was just murdered by Baton Rouge Police. Yet, her feelings do not matter more than the ‘story’ here.

It is only when it is for the benefit of the ‘storyteller’ or the oppressive force that the Black woman’s voice is important in mainstream media. She can tell her story or make her point at the expense of being drowned out by other situations deemed more pressing at the moment.

When a black person is shot, no matter the circumstance American media news outlets seem to take the side of officers and ask questions later. It is as if there is an agenda to condemn Black people when officers are shot before the identity of suspects are announced.

In the middle of all of this is grieving mothers, wives, sisters and Black women around the nation. Sybrina Fulton, Lesley McSpadden, Gwen Carr, Lucia McBath, Geneva Reed-Veal. Look them up. They are mothers of some of the slain who did not receive justice after their loved ones did not make it home for the most obscure reasons.

Tanisha Anderson, Sandra Bland, Kathryn Johnston, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Miriam Carey, Kendra James, Darnisha Harris, Yvette Smith, Rekia Boyd. Those are the names of some of the women and girls taken away from their families due to police brutality. Know their stories, too.

The neglect of the grieving Black woman and the slain or the kidnapped Black woman continues to be a prevalent issue that does not surface in mainstream media. Instead, you have them answering questions about remorse for their family members’ killers while they attempt to overcome this hate that exists.

I understand that both situations of Alton Sterling’s murder and the slaying of three officers occurred in the same area. Sterling’s aunt may well have known the officers killed, but reaching out to this woman connects the stories in ways I feel uncomfortable associating with one another.

The Black woman should not be apologizing for what is happening to her family. She should not be blamed for her own mistreatment as we saw with Sandra Bland. She should not be silenced and ignored like some of the women of color who were killed toward the end of June.

No national media coverage. Barely any attention on social media. Not nearly as much money raised for their families to bury them and take care of their children.

A sticky situation it is since we have been dealing with the defilement of the Black female body for centuries now. No consequences for those who commit crimes against them. No true indictment even by the public court.

The social climate of the United States of America remains volatile, but consistent with history with varying extremities.

It is not until white people are killed that someone be targeted for a heinous crime they committed. It is not until Black people are hurting and ‘retaliate’ by protesting that the world wants to point a finger. It is not until Black people stand up for themselves that domestic terrorists exist.

The choice that producers made in the newsroom at the CNN headquarters suggests that they did not consider the pain of Veda Washington-Abusaleh.

The fact that they chose to plaster her image and her cries, her pleas in the middle of the shootings of police officers that took place no time after Alton Sterling’s death or his funeral is a slap in the face.


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