In the Media, As a Black Man You’re Still Guilty Even if Proven Innocent

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Guilty even when proven innocent.

Photos included in coverage of Hofstra rape case after defendants were cleared.

Yesterday morning I was checking out the Huffington Post‘s piece on the dropped Hofstra gang rape case and was not surprised at the sloppy coverage by the media of the innocent young black males falsely accused of the crime. “Journalists” are still running the mug shots (on the left) along with the Hofstra gang rape case story DESPITE the fact that the accuser has recanted her claims.

Later in the day, I noticed that the Huff post changed the photo from the morning’s glowering mug shots to the more sympathetic one of the wrongly accused (on the right). But unfortunately, this still lives on their site.

Here’s a another piece on how the LA Times portrayed some LA Bruin athletes who were recently suspended. The good news is that pressure from bloggers about the portrayal led the Times changing the photo.

Was this photo of Morrell Presley run in the LA Times?

Was this photo of Morrell Presley run in the LA Times?

Or this one?

Or this one?

But this trend isn’t new. The research paper Race to Judgment: Stereotyping Media and Criminal Defendants shows that one study showed Black defendants were more likely to be shown in mug shots and,

(TV) stories with mug shots of defendants of color increase fear among all viewers. In a similar experiment, researchers found that students rated Black suspects as more guilty, deserving of punishment, more likely to commit future violence, and less likable than the White suspects, about whom they were given precisely the same information…

Such messages not only stereotype the blacks and Latinos who are featured in them, but also contribute to a stereotypical association between blacks, criminality, and guilt that can influence evaluations and behavior. Moreover, these stereotypes arise not merely from the news, but from TV and film entertainment, advertising, and sports programming as well.

I don’t think we need any more proof of media bias, but it keeps on coming. Incidents like these feed into the minds of the masses who possess no critical thinking skills. Just another reason why so many folks find our President so threatening (and young black men for that matter). Now, more than ever we are in desperate need of media literacy education that examines the media’s representation of race and its impact on our perceptions of self and others, in addition to our access to civil rights, democracy and ultimately justice.

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