Last Friday, a gunman attacked and kidnapped four Black Americans in Matamoros, Mexico. On Tuesday, two of the four group members were found dead. One day after that, Black people were reminded that we’re not actually allowed to be victims.
On Wednesday, The Daily Mail published an article that didn’t focus on the violent killings of two group members or the horrific trauma experienced by the survivors. Instead, the fine folks at the right-wing U.K.-based tabloid thought it was appropriate to point out, in the largest, boldest print possible, that all four victims had “lengthy criminal records” mostly for drug-related infractions. None of them had been charged with violent crimes.
For the sake of empathy, compassion and basic humanity, I’m not going to go into detail regarding the criminal histories of each victim the way the Daily Mail did. All I’ll mention is that not all of the victims had “lengthy” records because one or two drug charges do not make a lengthy rap sheet. I’ll also say that all the crimes the victims were convicted of occurred the better part of a decade ago and, in one case, more than two decades ago when the victim was a juvenile. Finally, I’ll mention that for Shaeed Woodard, one of the two victims who died after the shooting and kidnapping, the charge that was the most highlighted in the Mail’s article was for possession of marijuana.
As far as I can tell, the only real point of this article was to give racist white people an excuse to be racist white people.
It would be disheartening if it wasn’t so typical to see white folks on Twitter sarcastically comment that they’re “shocked” to learn of the victims’ criminal pasts with one commenter even going so far as to say, “Took one look at them and assumed as much, 50% success maybe.”
And while that commenter appears to pull statistics straight from the White Supremacist Book of Justifying Racism, actual data either shows white people and Black people use and sell drugs at similar rates or that white people are actually more likely to use and sell drugs. Either way, virtually all researchers appear to agree that, despite committing drug-related infractions at similar rates to white people, Black people are far more likely to be arrested and incarcerated for drug crimes.
Not that any of this matters. Not that there’s actually any conceivable reason why we should even be debating who sells drugs the most. The fact is, nothing has turned up in the investigation into the kidnappings and killings that indicates that Woodard, Latavia “Tay” Washington McGee, Eric Williams or Zindell Brown, who was also killed, were in Mexico for any other reason than what friends and family members reported. Washington McGee was there for cosmetic surgery and the rest were simply accompanying her. Authorities believe the group was attacked by cartel members who mistook them for Haitian drug smugglers.
So, the real question is: Who exactly is the target audience for the Daily Mail’s disgustingly insensitive article, which the surviving victims and grieving family members of the deceased victim might read less than 48 hours after the dead bodies were discovered?
Well, I think we all know the answer to that.
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