Don Roach: Are Beautiful White Females The Only Murder Victims We Care About?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Now that I have your attention, be prepared for a bumpy ride. As many of my faithful readers can attest, I usually have formulated opinions on various subjects that I hope I temper with reason. For today’s subject matter, we’re throwing that out the window and don’t be surprised if I offend you. This column’s topic came from a conversation I had last week after reading through Stephen Beale’s thorough analysis of 2010 Providence unsolved murder cases. In it, Beale reports:

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"Kevron Poston was one of 11 victims of fatal shootings in Providence in 2010. Five of them, including Kevron, were in their 20s. Three were teenagers and two were in their early 30s. Just one was older than that—a 55-year-old West End resident. Most of them lived in the all-too-familiar pockets of poverty in Providence—the South Side, the Chad Brown housing complex, the neighborhood around Valley Street, and Elmwood"

Hmm…I thought. All of the unsolved cases are males and I can’t recall hearing much about them after the initial 48 hours news cycle before Beale’s expose. Can you? Didn’t these guys have families, stories, and perhaps children they left behind? Why aren’t their deaths national news?

If a black man dies in America, does anyone care?

As I reflected, I had this thought, “what average Joe black man has been murdered in the last 20 years that became a media sensation?” I couldn’t think of one name…not one. I considered Michael Jordan’s father…but Michael Jordan’s dad wasn’t an average joe. I thought about the Washington DC shooters, but they were doing the killing not being killed. I wracked my brain without searching google and nothing was coming to mind. Nothing.

Then I thought “what average joe white man has been murdered in the last 20 years that became a media sensation?” I could think of a few cases where a husband was murdered by his wife or her lover but couldn’t auto-recall names. I could remember a few faces but Joey Buttafuoco doesn’t count because he lived. I recall a professor and his wife in New Hampshire as well but other than that I drew blanks. But at least there I had some hazy recollection.

I went through the same exercise with Indian, Asian, & Latino men and I couldn’t remember anything. I feel there must have been some during the past 20 years but my mind was just shocked at how relatively few there were in comparison to the number of national murder stories of attractive white females.

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Can you name 2 white females who met with an untimely demise in the last 20 years? I can.

Natalie Halloway. Chandra Levy. Laci Peterson. I added the third for good measure and those names rolled off my tongue as if I were their neighbor or went to school with them. Heck, I probably know more about their lives than I do about some of my former classmates. And after their names and stories had marinated in my mind, a rage began to build. What the he--? Is a white woman’s life worth more than a black man’s? A white man’s? A black woman’s? A Latino man’s? If you look at what’s covered by the media you’d definitely say not every life was worth the same.

To say I was pissed would be an understatement. I couldn’t and don’t understand why if you are a white woman and happen to be murdered, I’m a bazillion more times likely to know where you went to school, had your first kiss, and took your last breadth than if you were some black brutha who lived a few blocks down the street.

Does the media believe murder stories about attractive white females ‘sell’ more than victims from other races or genders? Yes! The sad part is they’re right.

Yes, I said it.

Stories about the untimely deaths of attractive white women sell more papers and get more eyes to the tv than untimely deaths of white men, black women, or anybody else who isn’t a white woman. Period. If you think otherwise, I’d say you’re living in la-la-land.

Does it make it right? Heck, no. But it’s there and let’s not hide behind some kind of guilt-ridden non-racial rhetoric. No, let’s call a spade a spade.

Maybe white families care more about their loved ones than non-white families?

As I was going through my tirade and feeling sorry for the countless number of non-white female victims in the world, I asked a friend about the conclusions I was drawing. I was floored by her response. “Don, it’s not that the media cares less about black men dying, it’s that the parents & families of these victims refuse to let their relatives die without justice.”

I hadn’t considered that at all and even considering now makes me feel like a jerk. How can you say these other families aren’t doing enough to find their loved ones killer? And what about white men, many have been rich and die without the national media so much as yawning in response. Do their families not care as much as the families of white female victims?

No way this could be true, could it? Like I said when I started this column, I might offend you…I think I offended myself a few times already. Nonetheless we can’t end here.

I simply refuse to believe that families of white female victims care more than victims of other families. I refuse. Anyone reading Beale’s interviews with the victim’s families can attest to that. No, desire to catch the killer isn’t the issue. But my friend may have tapped into something in that perhaps the economic status coupled with the media’s – well founded it seems – belief that people are more interested in the lives of attractive white females combine to form the true reason behind all the attention given to white female victims.

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Perhaps people of color don’t have the money or leisure time to search for their loved ones murderer? Nah, that can’t be right. If you recall the bedroom intruder song from last year, this black man was determined to find his sister’s would-be rapist. But even this story became national news not because of the crime committed but because of the reaction of her family. It makes me think back to the notion that unless minorities are shucking and jiving we’re ignored.

But I digress…

I have no idea what to think.

I have no idea why the media focuses its attention on white females. Wait, that’s a lie. What I should say is that I refuse to accept the reality of why the media focuses on white female victims. I desire to believe the lie that is we all consider suffering of any victim of equal value. While that sounds great in my head, it ain’t reality. So instead of ending on an upbeat note, I’ll just say this…

If you are not a white female, don’t get murdered because we don’t care.

If you’d like to share an opinion on the article, e-mail Don at [email protected] Maybe you can talk sense into him.

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