Racial Justice

Issues ››› Racial Justice
  • NRATV Host: Pointing Out Police Violence Disparities Faced By African Americans Is A “Negro Pity Party”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Colion Noir, a host for the National Rifle Association’s NRATV, attacked Boston Globe columnist Renée Graham for writing a column that argued that African Americans, Latinos, and Muslims considering gun ownership “must also carry the sobering knowledge that constitutional guarantees tend to fall short when the hand holding a gun is black or brown.”

    In a December 8 video clip released by NRATV, Noir reacted to Graham’s piece, stating that it was an example of “exploitation of racial tension” and terming Graham’s argument a “negro pity party.”

    Graham wrote about minority gun ownership and police violence in a December 4 column addressing news reports that minorities are buying more guns in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory. Graham cautioned, “Here's what's also unfortunate: More people of color with guns will likely result in more people of color dead or in prison,” and continued:

    Minnesota's open carry law did not save Philando Castile. He informed the officer who stopped his car that he was carrying a licensed gun, but was still shot to death in front of his girlfriend and her young daughter in July. In 2014, Ohio's open-carry law did not spare the life of 12-year-old Tamir Rice , shot dead by a cop while playing with a toy gun. This past week, officials declined to charge a police officer in the shooting death of Keith Scott who may have had a gun in his possession but was not holding it when he was killed in Charlotte earlier this year. North Carolina is also an open-carry state.

    After Castile, who had a permit to carry a concealed gun, was shot and killed, the NRA was conspicuously silent, generating outrage from those who saw a double standard for how the NRA reacts to high-profile victims of gun violence. Following intense criticism, the NRA eventually released a perfunctory statement that did not even include Castile’s name. The NRA also had nothing to say about board member Ted Nugent, who promoted a fake news story that falsely identified Castile as a suspect in a robbery and wrote on social media that Castile did not have "enuf brainmatter (sic)" to avoid being shot. The police officer who shot Castile has since been charged with manslaughter.

    Noir’s full comments:

    COLION NOIR: The Boston Globe printed a piece this week called “More Guns, More Risk for People of Color.” Here’s a quote. “More people of color with guns will likely result in more people of color dead or in prison.” They actually printed this. And you see, the exploitation of racial tension is a big business in this country now-a-days. When you only give a platform to the far extremes, i.e. the covert, overt racists and those who believe everything is racist you only get deeper racial division. Telling me I’m a victim every chance you get doesn’t empower me, it facilitates feelings of inferiority, self-pity, hopelessness, an unhealthy dependency on a group of people who only see me as a human stepping stool to facilitate their need to bask in their own self-righteousness. This negro pity party is getting old. And if you really want to help black gun owners, how about you start changing the narrative and glorify the countless positive images of black gun owners and the non-black gun owners who embrace them and stop force feeding us inferiority. I’m not a stray dog, I don’t need you to save me so you can put a collar around my neck and then say you own me. Either power my self-sufficiency or leave me be, because I will not let you continue to make a victim out of me.

  • Why Is Univision Giving Airtime To A Member Of A Hate Group?

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Univision included commentary from a member of an anti-immigrant hate group -- without identifying the group as such -- in a segment about undocumented immigrants in the U.S., which effectively allowed the organization to pass as a credible institution.

    On November 17, Univision’s Noticiero Univisión reported on the uncertain future, under President-elect Donald Trump, of the executive actions that temporarily protect from deportation millions of so-called Dreamers -- children brought to the U.S. by undocumented parents. During the segment, Univision’s Noticiero Univisión featured a comment from Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) spokesperson Jack Martin. While Univision identified him as “member of the organization FAIR,” the network did not provide any context about the organization or its beliefs.

    Univision failed its audience by leaving out context about the organization Martin represents. FAIR has been labeled an anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) because of its record “defending racism, encouraging xenophobia and nativism, and giving its all to efforts to keep America white.” According to SPLC, FAIR has “ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists,” its founder, John Tanton, “has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population,” and his organizations actively work to limit “the number of nonwhites who enter the country.” Another member of FAIR once wrote that “Hispanic immigrants should be shot” because they “multiply like a bunch of rats.”

    Including commentary from this organization and leaving out the context of what it represents in the immigration battle sanitizes the group's image and doesn’t properly provide viewers with the information they need to determine what to believe.  

  • Former Klan Leader David Duke Hails Trump’s “Great” Selection Of Jeff Sessions For Attorney General

    Duke: “Senate Must Demand That Sessions As AG Stop The Massive Institutional Race Discrimination Against Whites!”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    David Duke -- a white nationalist radio host, noted anti-Semite, failed 2016 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard -- praised reports that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) will be nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as attorney general. Duke also lauded Trump for naming Stephen Bannon to a senior White House role and picking Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to be National Security Advisor.

    Duke wrote on Twitter, “Bannon, Flynn, Sessions -- Great! Senate must demand that Sessions as AG stop the massive institutional race discrimination against whites!”

    In 1986, Sessions was nominated to the federal bench, but rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee due to multiple allegations of racism. As attorney general, Sessions would be in charge of enforcing federal civil rights laws.

    Bannon, Trump’s selection for chief strategist, was executive chairman of Breitbart News, an “alt right” outlet that promotes white nationalist views. Flynn has tweeted anti-Semitic material (he later apologized) and has promoted the work of white nationalist “alt right” writer Mike Cernovich on social media. Duke also tweeted that Flynn was a “great pick!”

    Trump's entrance into politics has energized and emboldened the white nationalist movement and he has been the subject of frequent praise by Duke.

  • David Clarke, Sheriff Who Appears On Fox News To Attack Minorities, Under Consideration By Trump For DHS Head

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & CYDNEY HARGIS

    President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering right-wing talk radio host and Fox News favorite Sheriff David Clarke for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Not only is Clarke’s record as Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin questionable, he has repeatedly appeared on Fox News to spout racially-charged rhetoric, including comparing Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance to the Ku Klux Klan and calling Black Lives Matter a “subversive movement.”

  • O’Reilly Segment Erroneously Claims Bias In Police Shooting Against Whites, Not African Americans

    Their Own Data Shows Lethal Police Force Against Nonviolent Black Offenders Is More Than 3 Times Higher Than Whites

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP & NINA MAST

    Bill O'Reilly invited the Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald to argue that police use force against blacks at a greater rate than whites for violent felonies. Mac Donald and O’Reilly ignored that police use lethal force against blacks at a much higher rate for nonviolent arrests.

    On the October 25 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly hosted Mac Donald who claimed that “actually, if there's a bias in police shootings it works in favor of blacks. White felons are more likely to be shot by the police following the arrest for violent felony than blacks are,” citing data from the Center for Police Equity (CPE) showing that police used lethal force more against whites in violent felonies:

    Mac Donald cherry-picked data from the CPE used in her Wall Street Journal column which actually found that lethal force was used more often on white individuals than black individuals only in the context of violent crime. But the study found that overall “the mean use of force rate for black citizens was higher than that for white citizens in all categories” and “When controlling for resident arrests for violent Part I offenses, racial disparities that disadvantaged blacks persisted in weapon use and the use of OC spray,” according to the July, 2016, report.

    The report’s analysis revealed “a robust racial disparity benchmarked to population such that blacks receive a mean use of force score—a combination of counts and severity—that is roughly 3.8 times higher than whites:

    Note: NH=Non-Hispanic

    Mac Donald has a history of citing biased data and making inflammatory remarks about black violence. Not only has she said that there is no evidence "that the overrepresentation of blacks in prison or arrest statistics is a result of criminal justice racism,” she also claimed that young black males have a "lack of self-discipline", which accounts for their higher school suspension rates.

    Bill O’Reilly, has also defended mass incarceration of African Americans, claimed black Americans are “ill-educated,” and claimed that Black Lives Matters is “killing Americans.”

    O'Reilly gave Mac Donald an open platform to criticize Black Lives Matter protests against excessive use of force by police, while ignoring the very reason why the protests have erupted in the first place -- the killing of unarmed citizens at the hands of police for seemingly low level offenses.

  • Mainstream Outlets Have Not Covered A Major Nationwide Prison Strike

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    On September 9, inmates at prisons in at least 12 states began work stoppages and other protest actions to draw attention to unfair labor practices and living conditions in U.S. prisons. The actions have reportedly continued on a rolling basis in many prisons across the country for the last month, yet a Media Matters analysis found virtual media silence on the story.

    According to inmate organizers at the Holman Prison in Alabama, who have been leading prison labor actions since 2012 as the Free Alabama Movement, inmates in prisons across the country launched strikes on September 9. The strikes, which were primarily work stoppages but also included hunger striking and other forms of peaceful protest, began on the anniversary of the deadly 1971 Attica prison uprising, which began as a means to call attention to prison conditions. The actions were primarily meant to protest extremely low-wage or forced labor in prisons, though inmate organizers in some facilities chose to focus their actions on living conditions and overcrowding instead of or in addition to labor practices.

    Estimates from the organizers and allied groups suggest that more than 24,000 inmates in at least 12 states participated in strikes that day. Tracking mechanisms indicate that inmates in several prisons are still continuing acts of protest on a rolling basis, though activity is thought to be “apparently winding down.” These numbers -- if corroborated -- would make the September 9 actions the largest prison strike in U.S. history.

    Though it is difficult to know for sure, actions in some facilities appear to be getting results. In Alabama, the epicenter of strike organizing, guards joined the effort, launching an informal labor strike to highlight prison overcrowding -- conditions that make prisons less safe for both inmates and guards. And the U.S. Department of Justice launched a “possibly unprecedented” statewide investigation into conditions in Alabama prisons last week.

    Yet a search of Nexis transcripts from the major news networks -- ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC -- and National Public Radio for the last month has come up almost completely empty on coverage of the strikes, aside from a single 20-second mention during a run-through of headlines on NBC’s Today and a three-and-a-half-minute NPR Weekend Edition interview with the Marshall Project’s Beth Schwartzapfel.

    Traditional print media outlets did not appear to fare much better, according to a search of the same parameters; Media Matters found one article at The Wall Street Journal reporting on the initial days of the strikes.

    Media Matters found no mentions of prison strikes across the major media outlets available in Nexis from September 8 -- the day before the strikes began -- through October 10. Most coverage seemed to come from new media outlets, like BuzzFeed and Vice News, or left-leaning, sometimes niche outlets like The Marshall Project, Mother Jones, Democracy Now!, and The Intercept. Readers who do not rely on these specific types of sources for their news, instead turning to evening broadcasts or major print outlets like The New York Times, may not know the strikes happened at all.

    Media scholar and MIT professor Ethan Zuckerman explained why coverage of the strikes may be so difficult to find in a Medium post on September 10. Zuckerman, who studies “the distribution of attention in mainstream and new media” and how activists can leverage media coverage, wrote:

    It’s hard to tell what’s going on inside US prisons. While prisoners can reach out to reporters using the same channels they can use to contact friends or family members, journalists have very limited rights of access to prisons, and it would be challenging for an intrepid reporter to identify and contact inmates in prisons across a state, for instance, to determine where protests took place. Wardens have a great deal of discretion about answering reporters’ inquiries and can choose not to comment citing security concerns. Reporters who want to know what’s going on inside a prison sometimes resort to extraordinary measures, like becoming a prison guard to gain access. (Shane Bauer’s article on private prison company CCA is excellent, but the technique he used was not a new one — Ted Conover’s 2000 book Newjack is a masterpiece of the genre.)

    Because it’s so hard to report from prison — and, frankly, because news consumers haven’t demonstrated much demand for stories about prison conditions — very few media outlets have dedicated prison reporters. One expert estimates that there are fewer than half a dozen dedicated prisons reporters across the US, an insane number given that 2.4m Americans are incarcerated, roughly 1% of the nation’s population.

    Coverage of the prison strikes from progressive outlets often acknowledges the problems of reporting accurately on events occurring in prisons as well; many that cited any data on the strikes noted that the numbers were estimates provided by organizers. As Azzurra Crispino from the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (an activist group helping to coordinate inmate organizing efforts) explained in an interview with WNYC’s On The Media, some reporters are trying to learn more: “It is the case that we have not seen as much media coverage as we would like, but I am getting a lot of emails and phone calls from journalists who are telling me, ‘I’m not seeing this on the mainstream media, but it’s all over my Facebook and my Twitter feed.’” Crispino also noted that violent riots tend to garner more media attention than the peaceful protests and strikes happening in most facilities. “I would ask the mainstream media: To what extent are you complicit in future violence, if it were to arise, if the message you are sending to prisoners is: if nobody dies, we’re not going to cover it?” she said.

    Another factor in the halted information flow is that state officials often declined to comment or offered competing narratives about what took place in individual facilities when reporters reached out. Officials in at least two states where inmates have recorded strike activity have publicly denied that any work stoppages occurred, and at least one inmate organizer says he is facing what The Intercept called “disciplinary action” for participating in a radio interview about the strikes.

    MIT’s Zuckerman argued that the September strikes are an example of a situation “in which readers can have power by calling attention to events in the world,” and that reader demand could spur “large media organizations” to leverage their resources and existing contacts “to provide a more detailed view of events.” He concluded:

    Perhaps the call for the nation’s largest prison strike has failed. Or perhaps we’re seeing the beginnings of a long action that will change incarceration as we know it. It’s a problem that we don’t — and can’t — know. A nation that imprisons 1% of its population has an obligation to know what’s happening to those 2.4 million people, and right now, we don’t know.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched Nexis for any mentions or variations of the term “prison” or “inmate” within 20 words of the term “strike” or “protest” from September 8, 2016, to October 10, 2016. The search included all available news transcripts for CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and National Public Radio; articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today; and abstracts in The Wall Street JournalWall Street Journal results were also checked in Factiva. 

    Image at top from Flickr user Alicia, using a Creative Commons license.