Commentary: Are We Desensitized When a Child Is Shot to Death?

We should never be complacent when murders in urban cities are a commonplace. 

Posted: 02/07/2012 05:50 PM EST

(Photo: Family Photo)

Is there something wrong when the horrific murder of a 12-year-old Black girl in Detroit receives far less newspaper ink and television footage than the slaying of a white suburban matron? The obvious answer would be yes.

 

In a recent article in the Detroit News, however, a reporter states that there is little agreement on the reason for the unequal coverage.

 

Similar to unemployment and lack of job opportunities in the Motor City, a default answer would be race. Perhaps if the bloody, lifeless body of little Kade’jah were that of hipster and young suburbanite Sarah killed in her downtown loft, news stations would have been more interested.

 

Unfortunately, the reality remains that perhaps the death of the pre-teen wasn’t news-y enough. It wasn’t out of the norm. In a city that had 27 slayings in the first 30 days of the New Year, perhaps the death of the young girl was too ordinary of the “regular” news.

 

It’s disheartening to know that even child killings have become a commonplace, but the desensitization doesn’t stop with Kade’jah Davis. According to FBI figures, nearly 40 percent of all missing persons are people of color and critics say that the most media attention is reserved for white women.

 

Who can forget about JonBenét Ramsey, the six-year-old beauty pageant contestant who was murdered in her home and found only eight hours after she was reported missing. Communities stopped and news outlets recycled stories until the girl was found.  But, when was the last time you heard a report of a missing Black boy?

 

If you don’t think they exist, think again and talk to the heartbroken parents of 5-year-old Jaharie Jaylan Crowe and 2-year-old Joshua Davis.

 

It’s not time to play the blame game or point fingers at unequal coverage, but it is time to stop being complacent, and time to show an interest in why violence continues to be rampant in Black communities.

 

It’s time to stop being complacent when hearing a young child was shot to death, and it’s time to start giving missing children of all races the coverage they deserve.

 

I’m not Dr. King, but maybe it is time to start having a similar mindset of civil rights leaders who cared about their communities and discrimination taking place within them.

 

If we don’t care, who will?

 

The answer could be no one. If no one cares, then no one is going to watch coverage of those affected and, consequently, media outlets won’t cover the stories.

 

My college professor once asked the question, “What’s the point of the news?” Someone in his class answered “to tell the stories of people.” He told them they were wrong and responded, “No. It’s to satisfy shareholders.”

 

What do shareholders like? Profit. How do they get it? With you watching.

 

Call it a game of political roulette, but it’s time for America to start paying attention again.

 

When did we stop caring?

 

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

 

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