The Kansas City television station Fox 4 KC collects all the recent victims of drive-by shootings on one Web page. Here are some sample headlines:
“4-year-old shot during drive-by shooting in KCMO.”
“‘We are angry’: Shooting death of KCMO toddler sparks tears, outrage.”
“Police identify 7-month-old following KCK drive-by shooting.”
“Police identify 6-year-old girl shot and killed outside 7-Eleven, mother speaks out.”
Like all the other cited victims, the 6-year-old was black. The name of this “sweet little girl” was Angel Hooper.
Last year two young black men were convicted of her murder. A Google search on “Angel Hooper” nets 7,260 hits.
Last week, 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes was killed in a drive-by shooting in Houston. Two young black men have been arrested for the murder. A Google search on “Jazmine Barnes” nets 9,930,000 hits.
Why the difference? A USA Today article states the obvious answer so matter-of-factly that its editors must think their explanation makes sense:
“The case drew international attention when family members said they believed the shooter was a white male, raising the specter of a racial hate crime.”
Now, having made Jazmine a national figure thinking the killer was white, the media continue to pour attention on her even after two black men were arrested. This is a way of saving face, a way of pretending they care about black-on-black murder too. They don’t.
What the media do care about is reporting tales, true or false, of evil white men as a way of making themselves feel virtuous. If they ruin lives in the process, and aggravate racial division, so be it.
No one knows this better than George Zimmerman, still living in the shadows in Florida, still looking over his shoulder wherever he travels, especially after rap mogul Jay-Z put a fatwa on Zimmerman’s head to help sell his egregious six-part mini-series this past summer.
Perversely, Zimmerman’s fate hung on a single word, his first name. He was named after his mother’s brother, Jorgé. His father Americanized his name to George. Says Zimmerman, “If they had named me Jorgé, you never would have heard of me.” He’s right.
While his father was overseas in the service, Zimmerman’s mother and her mother raised George to speak Spanish. He is fluent in English and Spanish and speaks either as need be.
For the first weeks after the shooting, no one knew Zimmerman’s background. They only had his name to go on, and that certainly sounded white, German even, maybe Jewish. After all, wasn’t Bob Dylan’s name really “Zimmerman.”
Once the narrative had been established of a brutish, armed white man a killing little black boy armed only with Skittles and iced tea, facts fell by the wayside.
New York Times reporter Lizette Alvarez earned a minor place in journalism history when she labored to identify Zimmerman’s ethnicity.
Until this point, given his name, it was widely reported that Zimmerman was white. In her March 16 article, three weeks after the 2012 shooting, Alvarez introduced the notion that Zimmerman was “white and Hispanic.”
In a March 22 article, she would famously refine that categorization to “white Hispanic,” an ethnic designation uniquely Zimmerman’s.
As an exasperated Bob Zimmerman would observe of his son, “George MUST be kept white … somehow.”
Although no one at the Times would ever admit it, the “white” part of the designation served to prevent the shooting from igniting black-Hispanic tensions, especially in Florida, especially in an election year.
If nothing else, Alvarez’s reporting helped undermine the self-serving notion of Hispanics as a race apart or, in Spanish, “La Raza.”
In her book on the case, “Suspicion Nation,” NBC reporter Lisa Bloom did not even mention Zimmerman’s Hispanic roots. That is the not the story she wanted to tell. That is never the story these people want to tell.
They are sick, and they are dangerous.