The media has never met a tragedy it didn’t like or exploit but not all tragedies are created equal. Renisha McBride’s death has illustrated the discrepancy.
Opening statements in the trial of Theodore Waffer were presented on Wednesday, July 23, in Detroit. The 55-year-old white male stands accused of second-degree murder, manslaughter and felony firearm charges in the Nov. 2, 2013 killing of McBride, 19. If the particulars of the case don’t immediately jog the memory, it might be because neither McBride nor her killer are household names. They have not become ingrained in the public consciousness in the same manner George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin became symbols despite the parallels between the two cases.
Both McBride and Martin were unarmed black teenagers. Their killers are claiming self-defense contrary to the available evidence. Just like Martin, McBride is set to be put on trial for her own murder because she was drunk at the time of her death. However, their genders are different and it must be asked if that is one of the reasons why this story has not taken on more prominence in the mainstream.
From Martin to Jordan Davis and recently Eric Garner, the plight of black men has immediately mobilized those on the ground and the press is there to capture it all but much persuasion is needed when it comes to the abuse of women. It took the hashtag #bringbackourgirls to bring awareness to the kidnapped Nigerian girls. But that support wasn’t anchored in continued coverage and their circumstances have been lost to the vicious news cycle.
There’s also the fatigue factor. We’re collectively outraged and want to tear down the hinges of racism, sexism, classism and every other ism. There is always an issue assaulting our sensibilities, hardening our feelings and allowing apathy to creep in. We go through the motions of being mad and then prepare to do it all over again.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want to become so desensitized that life and death no longer hold its God meaning. I certainly don’t want the media to act as though they’ve reached their quota. We shouldn’t be happy with the press McBride has gotten when much more can be done.
Renisha McBride deserves our tears, outrage and full attention.