On MSNBC, Joy Reid suggests that the sensationalism around the disappearance and presumed murder of Gabby Petito is a symptom of a prevailing systemic and cultural bias called “Missing White Woman Syndrome.”  There is a media and public fascination with “missing white women,” she says, while the media and public ignore “cases involving missing people of color.”

The charge, of course, is that Americans are only interested in Petito’s disappearance and death because she’s white, and they’d be much less interested, and the media would be less sensational in reporting all of it if they thought something bad had happened to a “person of color.”  

Source; William Sullivan

This led me to be immediately reminded of a moment in recent history where the culture and media were much less interested in the disappearance and death of an innocent young white girl than, say, the death of a black teenager who had violently assaulted another man without physical provocation and was killed as a court-determined matter of legally justifiable self-defense.

Back in 2012, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, you may be surprised to hear, more correctly accused the Democratic Party of precisely the opposite of Reid’s charge.  Speaking to Florida House Representative Corrine Brown about the national outcry over the death of Trayvon Martin, Baldwin asked if she and her “fellow African-American lawmakers” would “be as concerned about this case if Trayvon wasn’t black?”

“Oh, let me tell you something,” Congresswoman Brown said.  “We had an incident in my area where a young white female was murdered and I was just as concerned, absolutely.  I care about all the children.  You know, you can make this…”

Baldwin refused to let her get away with that.  She interjected, asking, “Congresswoman Brown, what was her name?”

Stunned, Ms. Brown asked, clearly stalling for time: “The young lady that got killed?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Baldwin politely answered, recognizing the Congresswoman was already in checkmate.  She pressed on, “Do you remember?”

“Uh, I don’t,” she stammered after conferring with a handler off-camera who also didn’t know the answer.  “I don’t remember her name, but we had all kinds of rallies in the community, in Jacksonville…”

That 7-year-old girl’s name was Somer Thompson.  She was abducted and her body was found in a Georgia landfill.  Her murderer was not brought to justice because of some phantom public or media fixation on missing white girls, but because the pedophile who murdered her was apprehended on unrelated child pornography charges.

Neither the public nor the media became fixated on the “young white female” who disappeared and “was murdered,” and like Corrine Brown, few ever knew her name, much less admonished by public and media campaigns to “say” it as a reminder.

What about Michael Brown?  You know who he is, don’t you?  That’s right.  The “gentle giant” around whom the “Hands up, don’t shoot!” myth began.  In reality, he had just committed a strong-arm robbery, and several investigations, which included a prominent one by Obama’s Department of Justice, all concluded that Brown attacked and attempted to disarm the police officer who shot and killed him as a reasonable measure of self-defense.

But the myth lives on, and Michael Brown is a household name for media pundits and the public at large.  But you know whose name is not? 

Zemir Begic.  This white Bosnian young man was unfortunate enough to be sitting in his car near St. Louis on a Sunday morning shortly after Brown’s death where, a short drive away, St. Louis Rams players took to the field with their hands in the air to promote the “Hands up, don’t shoot!” lie.  Miles away from that stadium, rioters using the Brown shooting as an excuse to commit vandalism and violence encountered Begic, began damaging his car, and then beat him to death with hammers when he confronted them for destroying his property.

The assailants involved in killing Zemir Begic were “black or Hispanic,” writes BBC News.  Could race have been a motivating factor in the incident, as the public and media naturally assumed about the innocent police officer who defended himself against the violent Michael Brown?  Not according to St. Louis police representative Schron Jackson.  “We think it was wrong place, wrong time,” he said.

Try imagining the utility of that defense as the reason for Michael Brown’s death, just for kicks.

Here’s another name you know, and you can even buy shirts with his image emblazoned on it, telling onlookers to “#Say His Name” as means to demand “Justice for Jacob Blake.”

Jacob Blake, you may recall, was shot by police officers with whom he was fighting and resisting arrest.  Most people know he was reaching into his vehicle, potentially for a weapon.  What most probably won’t recall is that he was carrying a knife, which he later admitted.  Even more shielded from the public and media narrative was the fact that his ex-girlfriend alleges that Blake, who was “unemployed and drank heavily,” physically beat her, stole her money, and digitally raped her while her son was lying beside her.  (Isn’t it curious how selectively we are meant to “believe all women!”?)

These are the martyrs the public and the media have chosen.  Say their names!

But have you ever heard of Norman Bledsoe?  He was a 75-year-old white man in a Michigan nursing home who, as a result of Gretchen Whitmer’s and Michigan’s horrible COVID policy, had a 20-year-old, COVID-positive roommate named Jaden Hayden, who is a vicious and monstrous Black man.  This sadistic man videotaped himself, from multiple angles, it appears, assaulting Norman in and around his bed, breaking four fingers, his ribs, and his jaw.  The brutal assault got attention initially when Donald Trump made mention of it on Twitter in May of 2020 (which you can no longer see because Twitter is a fascist cesspool whose tech-geek overseers saw fit to censor the duly-elected leader of the free world), but soon the incident fell into obscurity. 

Until, that is, about two months after the assault and about a month before the world would begin demanding “Justice for Jacob Blake.”  Local news outlets in Michigan quietly began reporting that Norman Bledsoe died after having “been depressed” and having not eaten “since the beating.”

To imagine a world where the public and the media are so fixated upon stories of white victims that they’re missing the injustices against minorities on the periphery is about the dumbest conclusion that anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to American culture could draw.

But Joy Reid, who is either insane or incredibly stupid, is right about one thing.  There is an epidemic of violence against people of color that is going unreported by the media, but it has nothing to do with the allure of sensational stories of white victims at the cost of ignoring victims of color. 

Take 7-year-old Serenity Broughton.  She and her sister, Aubrey, were shot after their parents buckled them into a parked car on a street in Chicago back in August.

Serenity, who happens to be a child of color, died.  The media’s lack of focus on this incident hasn’t been because there is some media aversion to addressing the injustices committed against people of color or an affinity to sensationalizing white victims. 

It’s because her killer isn’t known to have had a white face or a badge, like every other name that exists at the tip of our collective tongues.  Once you realize that, you will easily realize the true nature of the media’s obsession.

Photo credit: YouTube screengrab (cropped)

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