There is an epidemic of missing women and girls of colour in the UK
As a child, I watched family members laid to rest with nothing but a sheet of white cloth around their bodies. We go to the earth as we come from it — naked and equal. Only, the imposed hierarchy from ones birth may impact greatly on the manner in which we receive a persons’ passing. We may return to the land as we started, but those who show their compassion may not always measure by the same equality.
Summer 2013, Ohio, the bodies of three African American women were found. Would the revelation of a serial killer and the tragedy of his victims have garnered wider coverage, many asked, had his victims been white? It’s not a scandalous question. Nor is the answer likely to be a surprise. The faces of white, middle-class men and women have been plastered all across our screens and magazines for so long, ahead of any other aesthetic, that even in death or when missing, it is a blonde, light-eyed face that we expect to see.
To truly understand why, you would first have to see that news and fiction are born of the same setting, certainly in terms of the systematic racism that feeds into characterisation. Think of the black characters you have watched in films and television shows over the decades — heavy-chained, low-slung-trousered shooters and criminals. Think of the Arabs — baying for Western blood, with their suspicious packages and guns firing into the air. Then bring to mind love stories, tales of humour, of ambitious success, and friendship. Remember that the actors and their characters are well spoken and white. It is a narrative we have become accustomed to, one from which even the news won’t stray. Black males will feature in gangs, Arabs for anti-Western terror, and the universal tale of the value of life revolves in its entirety around the fair and youthful faces of relatable whiteness. Tragedy is auditioned here. Only those women who share the same attributes as the actresses we are used to forming on-screen connections with, will be allowed into our news and offered to us for the same such empathy. ....
This article was published by Media Diversified on 29.3.16. You can read the full text here.
Inspired by our participation with the Write to End Violence Against Women awards organised by Zero Tolerance, we are now collecting examples of good journalism about domestic and sexual violence and abuse to make it clear that it is possible to write about DSVA without resorting to myths, misrepresentations, minimisation and victim blaming.Download this post as PDF? Click here