#NotJustUVA: Martese Johnson and the American Norm

 

20 year old Martese Johnson’s unprovoked beating by police was yet another example of the brutality that’s become America’s norm. Over the past couple years, our community has become almost numb to the consistent attack on Black life. Not only are the police abusing their authority, they’re doing it with impunity. Every instance of police brutality and murder has put the victim on trial.

From justifying Mike Brown’s murder by mentioning a crime his murderer didn’t even know about to blaming Tamir Rice for playing with a toy, it’s become easy for the media to sweep our mistreatment under the rug. We have no benefit of the doubt. When a Black citizen is victimized by the cops, the corporate-owned media grasps at straws to justify it and the disillusioned say “well, that’s why”. It’s more comforting to believe their lies than to reach a realization that we can be killed for no reason.

Our mainstream media has a knack for getting people to focus on the afflicted rather than the affliction. They condemn a racist, but not racism. They analyze criminals, but not criminality. They discuss rapists, but not rape culture. They know if they had to analyze the psychology of our surroundings, which create the individuals they skewer, they’d find extremely pressing systemic issues. This is why they’d rather spend their time attaching rogue shooters to the Black Lives Matter movement than addressing its issues.

Martese Johnson’s beating is a perfect example of how the mainstream media works. After the fact checkers and interns dug through Johnson’s past in attempt to justify his assault they found none. In fact, they learned he was one of the top student leaders on UVA campus and an honor student. When it came time to craft the narrative for Don Lemon to spew, they didn’t have one.

When the respectability card can’t be played they would have had to expose a harsh reality. If were were truly dealing with objectivity, the media would have had to truly question why the police used such brute force on a person for no reason. There were other students denied access to the Bar, but no others ended up bloodied. Many people are stepping up in Martese’s defense to say the police account of his “belligerence” is extremely uncharacteristic.

In relaying those details, the story would have no longer been about putting Johnson’s character and background on trial. In essence, they would be condemning police, which no one in the mainstream media is willing to do. Why? Malcolm X noted that silence is essentially complicity in the plot. They don’t want to be the mouthpiece that galvanizes our citizens, that exposes the truth of police brutality.

The police system has never truly evolved from their roots as a force to keep Black people away from whites, and their assault on Martese Johnson for trying to enter a bar is a fundamental example. Just don’t expect to see anyone on the major news networks admit the farce.

The police have a blatant agenda to harass, beat, and even murder youth of color throughout this country, and the media is being criticized for their biased coverage. In reality though, they’re doing a great job. We have to realize CNN, Fox, ABC, CBS are all privately owned companies, who’s owners have vested interest in our continued oppression. The longer we’re susceptible to their predation and criminalization, the longer their greedy sham can continue.

As long as the media criminalizes blackness, the number of incarcerated minorities can stay sky high and few will bat an eye. The school to prison pipeline can exist freely. Starbucks, Microsoft and others can save money by using prison laborers. It’s all interconnected.

We are in the throes of a multi-pronged agenda to destroy us. Rather than entrusting in it’s vessels, we’re better served to understand the nature of the threat. Silence speaks volumes. The privately-Owned media won’t properly analyze Martese Johnson’s unprovoked beating because it would open up a can of worms that would create extreme disharmony for its owners. Quite simply, the mainstream media wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they ever appeared to be “on our side”.

 

Do you think we can ever get neutral news from mainstream media? Or analysis that expose racism in America? Or must we rely on our own media, including social media and hashtags such as #NotJustUVA?

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andreg

Andre G is a freelance writer, poet, music producer and co-founder of ColorTheFuture.org, a platform for young artists of color.
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