By: Rania M M Watts
One of the first things that was learned in grade 9 History, is that media bias houses the proclivity to bend individual thoughts to the breaking point — and mostly not for the better.
Fast forward several decades; the contemporary world’s social media bias is raging full force against the men from the Black, Indigenous, People Of Colour (BIPOC) community.
The connection between media and public attitudes has always been evident, especially when discussing the BIPOC community. These include:
– “General antagonism toward black males
– Exaggerated views of, expectations of, and tolerance for race-based socio-economic disparities
– Exaggerated views related to criminality and violence
– Lack of identification with or sympathy for black males
– Reduced attention to structural and other big-picture factors
– Public support for punitive approaches to problems” (Topos Partnership, 2011).
Everything outlined in the preceding quote is accurate. The tragedy when it comes to violence against men, more specifically BIPOC men — is the reality.
Regardless of how many advocacy articles are written – public interest will diminish with time. Societal outrage disappears after a few days. However, within the BIPOC community this is a daily challenge that must be faced.
A punitive approach is authentically not the best way to retain a message – especially when the bias is typically always saturated with Black males. Consistently showing the bias towards Black men and the manner in which the media has the power to control and manipulate – affords societies a bunch of lies in lieu of honesty. This is an issue that has a lot of intersectionality.
In order to fully explore the depth of violence against men in the BIPOC community, there must be a grounding factor. Numerous factors come into play besides skin colour, marginalisation, oppression, lack of education and socioeconomic dissonance.
It is quite fascinating to also note the difference between American and Canadian record keeping, when it comes to establishing the number of victims.
“About 1,000 civilians are killed each year by law-enforcement officers in the United States. By one estimate, Black men are 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police during their lifetime” (Edwards et al, 2020). If we compare that with a Canadian resource, with the same exploration of George Floyd (as with the previous article), this one offers no official number with regards to the amount of individuals killed – due to an encounter with the police – BIPOC or otherwise (Simpson, 2020). Why does Canada not have direct access to public records with regards to this?
In 2003, O’Brien Christopher Reid, died as a direct result of murder by the police. He was surrounded and contained — yet was still shot to death (Palamarchuk, 2017).
The forced precipitation of oppression with regards to violence against BIPOC males negates an altruistic mandate to see equality from society’s perspective. Progression will occur when the biased lens of media, social or otherwise renders a more profound view of equity and equality simultaneously.
Conceptualised thought over a skin tone does not render empathy. It amplifies ignorance in a fashion that is not conducive to any prosperity. Micro, in addition to macro, issues with regards to violence against men are rarely considered.
“Aboriginal and Black people are more likely to be victims of crime. The Aboriginal murder rate in Canada is 7 to 8 times higher than the overall rate. In Toronto, where Black people are 4% of the population, they account for as many as 40% of murder victims” (John Howard Society, 2017).
It is important to note how no gender assignment is allocated to the quote above. This means this is an equally important issue for both men and women.
Highway of Tears, is a direct call to action to account for all the missing and murdered Indigenous women (Highway of Tears, 2021). But what about the Indigenous men who have been murdered? Are they not to be acknowledged too? This is an authentic dilemma.
BIPOC masculinity is not being considered when it comes to raising awareness through social media. It is essential to be able to house that level of equality for all genders.
It is clearly illustrated: in 2019, 54 women, and 188 male, victims who identified as Aboriginal had been victims of homicide; a pattern that holds steadfast with a significantly higher number in men than women — between 2015-2019 (Statistics Canada, 2019).
The gender inconsistencies still persist. It does not lessen the impact on those members of the male BIPOC community. Violence against men is not addressed as often as the perpetuated aggression against women; although it is a very real topic that genuinely warrants investigation.
Questioning why there are not as many resources for men, as there are for women is the true acknowledged path: to be able to altruistically assess and determine the needs of men who are victims of crime (amplified by what is shared on social media).
Pre social media, meant that information was derived by local media sources – either print, radio, or television. However, with the onset of social media, hate is allowed to be fueled from person to person – which seeps from community to community – in seconds; where bias is allowed to grow fast in an already highly fueled toxic society;
“Black social media users have experienced a great deal of censorship online. Often, those who are outspoken about white supremacy and racism have found their content removed or taken down for violating community guidelines” (Asare, 2021).
There are so many violations against the BIPOC community which do not all need to be physical to see the impact – with regards to endless spouted poison.
What does it say, as a society, if each BIPOC individual is stifled from the start, and forbidden from speaking? It sets the trend to explore more threatening mannerisms.
This type of social media exclusion fully encourages humans who seek to destroy BIPOC lives, an afforded opportunity to speak out against them. The termination of BIPOC bloodshed is the next step with regards to ensuring that silence never has the chance to bloom into a full-fledged scream.
“When I first picked up a basketball, at around 8 years old, I also picked up on my parents’ fears for my Black body. My parents hated when I played ball at nearby parks, worried I’d get shot, and tried to discourage me by warning me of the dangers waiting for me out there. In their constant fear mongering about Black drug dealers, robbers, killers, they nurtured in me a fear of my own black neighbors. When I proposed laying concrete in our grassy backyard and putting up a basketball hoop there, my father built a court faster than a house flipper, a nicer one than the courts at nearby parks. But the new basketball court could not keep me away from my own dangerous Black body or from Smurf on the bus (Kendi, 2019, p71)”
The above quote could also lends, to the argument that Black children are socialised from a young age to not take any risks; that would put them in harm’s way for no other reason than having the wrong coloured skin. It is strange how things change with the generations.
Kendi stated that his parents were trying to constantly fear monger about other Black members of the population. However, if it is turned around, in our modern technologically advanced day, parents of Black children are now preparing them with “The Talk” regarding the police force and what to say when stopped – due to racial profiling (Edwards et al, 2019).
The warnings to Black children are still there, even though the transference is now directed not to other Black neighbours, but police officers. The violence still rages on in a different animal that is relentless to the point of — shoot first; ask questions later.
“Backlash is defined as negative repercussions as a result of the criminal activity of some African Canadian men, but is also mediated by print and visual media sources” (Kumi, 2005).
The level of pure hate perpetuated by the media amplifies the violence against Black men; all one needs to do is take a look at all the stories of murder as they travel through social media’s ether. Violence against BIPOC men is a subject that should be studied in more depth. Especially considering the level of gender bias when it comes to assault and media amplified propaganda that perpetuates nothing but racial bias.
The demographic of BIPOC men tragically has been overlooked or mentioned and publicly forgotten. There needs to be a more consistent dialogue to negate the negativity caused by racial bias.
Each of these murdered men were researched for the purpose of this paper; Greg Rtichie, Chad Williams, Nicholas Gibbs, Olando Brown, Pierre Coriolan, Kwasi Skene-Peter, and Jermaine Carby. All them have two main things in common: a) they are members of the BIPOC community and b) every single one of them was murdered by police in their respective area (Cole, 2020).
Each human story has a right to be heard and expressed to the fullest extent of their being This includes the male members of the BIPOC community.
Asare, J. G. (2021, January 9). Social Media Continues To Amplify White Supremacy And Suppress Anti-Racism. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/janicegassam/2021/01/08/social-media-continues-to-amplify-white-supremacy-and-suppress-anti-racism/?sh=521ecd494170
Cole, D. (2020, May 30). Remembering Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Colour killed by Canadian police. Pyriscence. https://www.pyriscence.ca/home/2020/5/29/cdnpolice
Edwards, F., Lee, H., & Esposito, M. (2019). Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race–ethnicity, and sex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(34), 16793–16798. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1821204116
Fowlie, J. (2004, June 19). Friends, family fondly remember ‘O’Brien the lion’ as smart, driven. The Globe and Mail. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/friends-family-fondly-remember-obrien-the-lion-as-smart-driven/article18267210/
Kendi, I. X. (2019). How to Be an Antiracist: Vol. P 71 (First Edition). One World.
Kumi, P. A., “Guilty by association: The impact of mainstream media portrayal of African Canadian male criminal participation on the African Canadian community.” (2005). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2258.https://scholar.uwindsor.ca/etd/2258Lopez, G. (2016, August 8). Black parents describe “The Talk” they give to their children about police. Vox. https://www.vox.com/2016/8/8/12401792/police-black-parents-the-talk
Highway of Tears. (n.d.). Highway of Tears. Retrieved February 4, 2021, from https://www.highwayoftears.org/
Staff, E. (2017, January 15). “HE WAS NOT A VIOLENT PERSON.” The Eyeopener. https://theeyeopener.com/2007/11/he-was-not-a-violent-person/
Number, percentage and rate of homicide victims, by sex and Aboriginal identity. (2020, October 29). Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3510015601&pickMembers%5B0%5D=1.7&pic kMembers%5B1%5D=2.3&cubeTimeFrame.startYear=2015&cubeTimeFrame.endYear=2019&referencePeriods=20150101%2C20190101
Race, Crime and Justice in Canada. (2017, October 19). The John Howard Society of Canada. https://johnhoward.ca/blog/race-crime-justice-canada/
Toronto.com, & Palamarchuk, A. (2013, August 14). Residents have say on police shootings. Toronto.Com. https://www.toronto.com/news-story/4030204-residents-have-say-on-police-shootings/
Simpson, N. (2020, June 2). Canada Has Race-Based Police Violence Too. We Don’t Know How Much It’s not just a US problem. Canada needs a national database for police use of force and deaths. The Tyee. https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2020/06/02/Canada-Race-Based-Violence/
Social Science Literature Review: Media Representations and Impact on the Lives of Black Men and Boys. (2011, October). The Opportunity Agenda. https://www.opportunityagenda.org/sites/default/files/2018-04/2011.11.30%20-%20Report%20-%20Media%20Representation%20and%20Impact%20on%20the%20Lives%20of%20Black%20Men%20and%20Boys%20-%20FINAL.pdf
Any personal opinions expressed in this blog solely belong to the author Rania Watts and not the Practitioner advertised in this website or social media.