Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Chelsea King

One of the more interesting things about Tumblr as a social networking site is how immediate it is. It's also pretty ephemeral and momentary. One of the things I see people doing on Tumblr now is putting up notices about missing kids. I always make sure to reblog those; I have 346 people who follow my Tumblr, and maybe more who follow it through an RSS, so if there's a chance that even one of those people have seen a missing kid, I'll take that chance. I know there are those who think that this sort of thing isn't what the site is for, but if Tumblr can be used for something more than throwing up Mean Girls quotes, then that's a good thing.

I reblogged the notice about Chelsea King, the 17 year-old girl whose body was found yesterday. Since she died, there's been a flurry of media news, and Tumblr seems to be keeping up with every bit of it. As with everything on the internet, it's driven a wedge between some users and others.

In brief: I've seen a number of people on Tumblr complain that Chelsea King's tragic murder is only national news because she was a young, pretty white girl.

I've also seen a number of people on Tumblr complaining about those complaints, saying things like "It's a tragedy no matter what color Chelsea King was. I don't care if she was white or not."

That's an admirable attitude, but the issue is not whether you care what color she was, the issue is that the media cares.

I have lived in and out of Chicago since I was four. There are a lot of black and Latino murder victims here that barely rate a mention in the news when they're attacked or the accidental victims of drive-by shootings.

In 2006, an 11 year-old girl named Darien Shellie was playing video games in her basement and took a bullet in the head during a drive-by that wasn't even meant for her. That tragedy wasn't mentioned on the news. At all. I only read about it on the Chicago Tribune's website. Because all anyone could talk about at the time was Natalee Holloway and some attention-seeking idiot claiming he killed JonBenet Ramsey.

This morning, all WGN News seems able to talk about is Chelsea King.

So, while it's admirable that you don't care what color Chelsea King was, and it's absolutely right that it's still a tragedy, those who say that the only reason the media cares so much about this story is that she was a young, pretty white girl have a genuine point. You shouldn't be angry at them for thinking one death is no less a tragedy than another.

You should be angry because you know they're telling the truth.


Anonymous said...

Chelsea King gets more coverage because it appears to be a sex crime. Here in Texas, black and Latino murders and crimes that have that SVU feel get covered extensively, drive- by's not so much. And in Austin especially, any perceived hate crime especially against gays is front page. Austin is very liberal generally. This is unrelated, but 15 years back I was robbed at gunpoint by a black dude but the cop insisted on reporting it as a dark skinned male because I guess of flack they had caught at some point. Still cracks me up.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

The media claims they are only giving us the 'candy everyone wants' but that is an excuse. Every life is precious and the singular focus on white and pretty in all media venues has alot to do with everything that is wrong in this world. It's why a Sarah Palin gets mentioned in the same sentence as the Presidency and why that retard Senator that took over Teddy Kennedy's seat is touted as a presidential candidate. It all makes me sick.

RJ said...

"Here in Texas, black and Latino murders and crimes that have that SVU feel get covered extensively"

I'm from Texas, and I disagree. They might get more coverage than in other places, but the young white girls get a lot more.

Anonymous said...

Everybody loves college girls so if a Black or Latino one goes missing, it's a story with legs-media wise. Even the missing hookers at the border seem to have billboards and print reporting which is somewhat surprising. They wouldn't even get that in their native Mexico. The fake Tawana Brawley and Duke lacrosse hoax got a lot more coverage than the grisly double murder of Christopher Newsome and Channon Christian. I would of thought that would've been everywhere.