I like to read all points of view regardless of who wrote it, be they Republican or Democrats, liberals or conservative, black militants, white supremacist, MSNBC, FOX news, doesn’t matter. I don’t want to be a liberal democrat who just lives in his own little bubble like most people do by not reading or watching different points of view that you may not necessarily agree with because otherwise you are not looking at the entire whole picture and you are not looking at how others think, whether they be right or wrong. This is one reason why our country is so divided, the refusal to look at the other side. Jamaica residents are a perfect example of that.
Case in point, many people do not like The Daily News Shaun King, they find him to be anti-white, always “race-baiting” (not my words), etc. but I like to read him, whether or not I agree with him or not and most times, I can agree with him to to a certain point because I am looking at his point of view which is that of a young black man, which I am not and it make me think about the issue or issues at least differently. Also when someone is so passionate, it is worth listening to in the very apathetic brain dead texting robotic society that we live in. I means someone actually has a point of view and they are passionate about it.
But on this issue of of calling the alleged killer of Howard Beach jogger (Karina Vetrano), Chanel Lewis a “demon” being racist, sorry Shaun, you are way off point and no racism is involved. Over the years with the high mass shootings of young white children in schools to black church goers, many of the perps (mostly always white in those cases) have been called “demons” as well and for good reason, these kinds of people who engage in mass killings or brutal murders like Katrina Vetrano are DEMONS, they are evil seeds. Why as human beings, we think there is goodness in everyone, because that is a fallacy. Some folks are just plain evil for whatever reason, born that way or changed by environment, people are NOT always inherently good and kind as history has taught us.
This innocent looking, somewhat geeky looking young guy, Lewis, beat, strangled, sexually assaulted, and dumped Karina Vetrano face down in the weeded marshes near her Howard Beach home in Queens. This was a BRUTAL murder that I cannot even comprehend what Karina went through and how long this ordeal took (her teeth were even broke, either by him or by her fighting back, which she did). I mean this is the work of a DEMON Shaun and it has not a damn thing to do with racism, no matter how many times you beat that overplayed drum. That dog just don’t hunt. If Lewis were white, Asian, etc, he would still be called a DEMON because of the brutality of the killing. King is way off base especially when he goes off tangent on this subject with black drug dealers versus white drug dealers which have NOTHING to do with this particular case.
You lost me on this one Shaun. An evil person killed a young woman brutally who was just out jogging. That is the issue, there is no “racial” slant to this, but in this day and age, there always has to be some bullshit slant even when one does not exist.racism, hate crime, etc. Sometimes just bad shit happens and racism has not a damn thing to do with it despite who was involved.
Right after his column, I have another viewpoint on what he said from another media source. Again, good to hear from all sides of an issue.
When we were still new to New York, and struggling to wrap our minds around the idea of allowing our teenage daughters to travel the city on the subway without us, something absolutely horrible happened.
A beautiful, beloved young woman, Karina Vetrano, a speech therapist who was also very much a fitness buff, went out for a routine jog in broad daylight on a hot summer afternoon. She never made it home. She was beaten, strangled, sexually assaulted, and dumped face down in the weeded marshes near her Howard Beach home in Queens.
Rightly so, the city became obsessed with her case. My wife and I often spoke of Karina and hoped, for her family and for our city, that whoever did this to her would be arrested. As new residents, but particularly as parents of high school aged girls, the thought that someone who did such a thing was roaming the streets was beyond disturbing.
So, when we got the news that someone had been arrested for this heinous crime, a full six months after Karina was murdered, we were relieved. My heart goes out to her devastated family and I hope that this arrest gives them even an ever so tiny bit of peace in the midst of such unthinkable horror.
However, I must say that I am concerned that latent racism is now creeping its way into how this case is being talked about — including by my own paper.
Chanel Lewis, a scruffy, rail thin, almost goofy-looking 20-year-old black man with no criminal record was arrested for the crime. Early reports state that he confessed and that DNA evidence matches him to the victim, who was not only white, but the attractive, well known, charismatic, and the pride and joy of her Italian family.
Even though more than 75% of voters in Queens voted for Hillary Clinton, Howard Beach, and many of the enclaves around it, are Donald Trump country. With African-Americans making up just 2% of the population there, the segregation of Howard Beach has an ugly history.
“As a kid, I would not recommend anyone black stopping there,” said Congressman Gregory W. Meeks in 2011. As it was, in 1986, Michael Griffith, a young black man from Brooklyn who traveled to Howard Beach to pick up a paycheck for his construction job, was chased and killed by a group of white teens from Howard Beach. To this day, fair or not, the murder of Griffith and the brutal beating of one of his friends, shapes how many in the city see Howard Beach.
This crime exists on the very sensitive fault lines of race not only in our city, but nationwide. How we talk about it, how we frame it, and how we move forward — it matters. It matters a lot. That’s why I was deeply discouraged to see many of the words on today’s cover of the New York Daily News about the arrest of Chanel Lewis.
I’m not alone there. Friends of mine from all over the country saw it and were disturbed as well. As I watched my beloved Atlanta Falcons blow a 25 point lead in the Super Bowl, I first started to get @ replies from complete strangers about the cover on Twitter. I was live tweeting the game, and started seeing more and more people ask me about the cover. I clicked over and there it was.
It was as deeply problematic as they described. The headline, in bold print, read, “Demon in the Weeds: Woman-hating brute, 20, murdered park jogger, Karina.”
Now, the gut reaction of many who are not familiar to the racially charged history of some of those words, would wonder why I would even care what anyone said about a rapist and a murderer.
I care because in America, how one lone black man is viewed, trickles down in peculiar ways to how millions of black men are viewed. By in large, when a white man rapes and murders a woman, which has happened tens of thousands of times in this nation, it does not trickle down to how everyday Americans view white men in general. The reverse is damn true though.
Even though study after study shows that white men and black men both sell and use drugs at virtually the same rate, with white men actually selling illegal drugs at a higher rate, the American stereotype of a drug dealer is a young black man in a hoody? Why is that? Because the worst news about some black men, is forced about the image of all black men.
Even though the overwhelming majority of people receiving Food Stamps in America are white, the stereotype of a welfare queen is not white, but is a single black woman with many kids. It’s a lie. And it’s a lie that sticks because how the media and politicians and everyday Americans frame such issues matter.
Here are alternate headlines that could’ve been written about Chanel Lewis. I’m not even saying I would’ve chosen these, but they all would’ve been true.
“Recent honors graduate of Queens High School with no criminal record arrested for brutal sexual assault and murder”
“Quiet unassuming young man allegedly confesses to killing beloved Queens jogger”
“Brilliant police work leads to the arrest of young man in the brutal murder of Karina Vetrano”
By calling Chanel Lewis “a demon” and “a brute,” the headline devolved into language that has been used to dehumanize and even lynch black men in America for the past century. I’m all for having a hard-hitting headline that didn’t go easy on him or mince words about the case, but in the spirit of hitting hard, we can’t do what we did today. What my paper did has history.
“The brute caricature portrays black men as innately savage, animalistic, destructive, and criminal — deserving punishment, maybe death. This brute is a fiend, a sociopath, an anti-social menace. Black brutes are depicted as hideous, terrifying predators who target helpless victims, especially white women,” said Dr. David Pilgrim, professor of Sociology at Ferris State University in Michigan.
Pilgrim continued: “The ‘terrible crime’ most often mentioned in connection with the black brute was rape, specifically the rape of a white woman. At the beginning of the twentieth century, much of the virulent, anti-black propaganda that found its way into scientific journals, local newspapers, and best-selling novels focused on the stereotype of the black rapist. The claim that black brutes were, in epidemic numbers, raping white women became the public rationalization for the lynching of blacks.”
Google the words, “Black man brute stereotype.” This racialized depiction of black men is widely known.
Depicting black men as “demons” also has a long, ugly history and was most recently done by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in his depiction of why he repeatedly shot teenager Michael Brown in the chest and head, saying he looked like “a demon.” Indeed, tried and true racial stereotypes were abundant in the testimony of Darren Wilson.
The depiction of black men as “demons” in the media is so prevalent, and so frequent that Dennis Rome, a professor at Indiana University wrote an entire book on the phenomenon called Black Demons: Mass Media’s Depiction of the African-American Male Criminal Stereotype.
When I pressed my editors this morning on why the words “demon” and “brute” were used to describe Lewis on the front page, the answer was that they sincerely believed they would’ve used those words had the man who was arrested been white. I believe my editors believe that.
Sadly, thousands of rapes and murders happen in our nation every year. When a white man is accused of rape, be it the Stanford swimmer Brock Turner or Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the words “demon” and “brute” tend not to appear in the headlines.
Twenty-eight years ago our paper, in another rush to judgment, used animal language to describe the Central Park Five — calling them a “wolf pack” and a “roving gang.” Their convictions were eventually overturned, and another man convicted, after they spent as many as 13 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. Again, the crime that was committed was unbelievably heinous, and should’ve been described as such, but when our paper began using animal adjectives to describe young men who turned out to be innocent, it’s a problem.
Hear my heart: if Chanel Lewis is guilty, and the evidence that we have so far absolutely suggests that he is — what he did was horrendous — no ifs, ands, or buts.
I’m not here to police how the family of this young woman talks about this case. That’s not my place. If one of my girls had been victimized like their wonderful daughter, I would not have a filter of any kind either. I have no idea the anger, rage, and hurt they must be feeling,
However, the Daily News and all the media has to find a way to describe such cases without slipping into racist tropes hundreds of years in the making.
From MRC TV:
Shaun King Cries ‘Racism’ After Woman’s Killer Is Identified As a Black Man