For French citizens, July 14 was a celebration of independence; for friends of Harith “Snoop” Augustus, it was a day of tragedy. The 37-year-old devoted father and beloved barber was fatally shot Saturday by a Chicago police officer in the city’s South Shore neighborhood.
You already know what happened next: protests immediately erupted and pandemonium ensued. That’s how things are in “The Go” (short for Chicago). When people of color get pissed off, the whole world has no choice but to notice. Last week, protesters shut down the Dan Ryan expressway to seek resources and safety in their communities. Unfortunately, the media won’t show the root of these issues; all we see is surface-level suffering.
The images we see can either sustain or challenge stereotypes. If you see black men presented as violent and criminal, that’s what you will think. When you judge people individually and not collectively, you will see that stereotypes are more exceptions than rules. When I turn on the local news, I see nothing but exceptions being presented as the rule. It doesn’t matter if the assignment editor, managing editor or news director is black; he or she still must lead with stereotypical stories to boost ratings. Racist news stories create false images that people use as a frame of reference for their own prejudices. In turn, the vicious cycle continues.
When Reporters Encounter Racism
Look at what happened with Sun-Times reporter Nader Issa.
I had my press badge held up in one hand and my phone in the other while I was saying “I’m a reporter.” Two Chicago Police officers repeatedly pushed me, then smacked my phone out of my hand and threw me back. I lost my balance but can’t remember if I hit the ground or not. pic.twitter.com/vhi4gjlNla
— Nader Issa (@NaderDIssa) July 15, 2018
I strongly doubt that a white female reporter would’ve been treated the same way. To be fair, I’ve been mistreated by officers of color at protests too. A few years back, I attended a rally to show support for Egyptian people and a plain-clothes cop (Arabic descent) shouted threatening messages at me that I wasn’t welcome there. Racist views aren’t just held by white people; we all struggle with ignorant thinking due to what we’re told instead of what we’ve experienced.
This is why we can’t continue to sweep race relations under the carpet. Forget cultural sensitivity training– that’s some PR bulls***. You can’t unlearn racism in a day. If it took a while to teach it, it will take twice as long to forget it. Habits are easy to form but hard to break. But I challenge us all to break this habit of racist thinking before we continue seeing tragedies like this.
My heart goes out to Mr. Augustus’s family, friends, clients, and supporters. I’m very saddened by what has happened but I’m using my voice to fight against those who didn’t value his.
UPDATE: The police JUST released the body cam footage from the incident.