Why The Media’s Irresponsible Packaging of Non-White Trauma is Criminal
We have all viewed the viral images of the drowned father and toddler originally from El Salvador, who left their ravaged homeland and ended up in southern Mexico, where the father embarked on what was supposed to be a solo mission to cross the Rio Grande, and was unfortunately unable to save himself or his beloved daughter from the strong currents that swept them away to their deaths.
The lack of reverence for the ultra-sensitive photo, depicting the drenched bodies of a Brown migrant and his little girl reminds me of other tragic tales of desperation and loss that are enhanced by the gross negligence of Whiteness, with the historical traitorousness that remains the main driver of the narrative of cruel supremacy.
Remember the destructiveness of Hurricane Katrina that was exacted in New Orleans back in 2005?
How could anyone forget the horrific pictures and video footage that captured flooded neighborhoods, overrun with bloated Black bodies being scorched by the vengeful rays of the sun. We surely won’t be able to eliminate the seared vision of Black bodies on wilting rooftops, wearily waving tired limbs in the hopes of a miraculous rescue.
You would think a national catastrophe of that magnitude would evoke an immediate sounding of the alarm with the swift actions of government agencies like FEMA, and other arms of humanitarian factions that are outfitted for these types of emergencies.
But as history recorded, the Bush administration woefully failed to rise to the occasion in a manner befitting helpless Black victims, who were either given the undignified makeshift burial that resembled an overflowing gutter, or the lengthy stay at the packed Houston Astrodome, where the now-deceased former First Lady and mother of President George Bush — Barbara Bush — made headlines for her racist remarks after casually surveying the heartrending sea of squashed Black bodies.
“What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this is working very well for them.”
The abolishment of slavery and colonialism never really put an end to the way White supremacy works. And we’ve seen that illustrated by the Trump administration’s willful decision to deny adequate aid to Puerto Rico after the irrevocable damage of Hurricane Maria.
And like Barbara Bush did with the Black survivors of a terrifying event, Trump minimized the pain and suffering of the Brown survivors of a battered island, by mocking the initial death count, shaming Puerto Rico’s outstanding debt, and throwing paper towels into the crowd.
The pain and suffering of Black and Brown populations has always presented an inherent fascination and a distanced empathy for those who have been fashioned to proudly exhibit their superiority, even at the expense of human lives.
Barbara Bush wasn’t all moved by the hellish reality facing the displaced survivors of a mammoth storm that devoured the existence of an already vulnerable community. She was much more concerned about the potential threat to her home city, that despite its notable vastness, couldn’t afford to be overrun by the human debris from Hurricane Katrina.
White people don’t mind clicking and scrolling through the road maps to Black and Brown trauma, with the bonus of relentless shares on all platforms. It’s the ordained proof of contributing to a cause that can’t be identified with, and that comfort permits the ability to internalize nauseating fare without acute symptoms of distress.
But as a Black woman, with roots in Nigeria and the United States, it’s impossible not to be emotionally distraught and perpetually overwhelmed by the messaging that confirms how my life has never mattered.
Back in 2017, the international media went into overdrive during the heightened period of migrant deaths and modern day slavery, that featured victims from West African nations that were determined to escape famished wastelands for the shores of survivability.
A great number of Nigerians were among the hopeful Black migrants who were risking it all for the breath of life, after enduring the dire consequences of a woefully penetrated territory, that could’ve maintained the gloriousness of “Wakanda-like” status if not for the fateful British invasion under the guise of missionary excursion, that permanently dismantled the fibers of ancestral riches by redirecting the wells of functionality towards the valves of White power.
This resulted in the formalized inefficiencies of former colonies, who were structurally raped to the point of no return. The armies of brutality mercilessly pitted tribes and sub-tribes against each other in never-ending wars for dominance, that still continues to massacre townships without justifiable cause.
Black lives against Black lives was the curse of Whiteness and the extreme violence has led to the mass exodus to other areas of the globe that aren’t groomed to provide any form of relief.
And thus began the chaos and mayhem of drowned Black bodies in the Mediterranean Sea.
Men, women, children, babies — all casualties of the bitter end to lifelong slavery that was mandated by White soldiers of supremacy, who are now members of the United Nations, and regarded as well-respected world leaders, maximizing their seats of power with the non-stop flow of oil that keeps the lights on in Europe and the United States, but leaves the lights off in oil-soaked river towns like the Niger Delta.
And for the Black migrants who barely made it to the other side, there was the unfathomable nightmare of the newly-installed human trafficking ring in Libya, that was inexplicably flourishing without lawful interference from global humanitarian agencies, that simply prodded with cautious curiosity and the infrequent updates that didn’t signal any significant progress.
Can you imagine White bodies being harmfully traded in such a vile fashion in this age of enlightenment, and under the supervision of well-positioned agents who have the authority to condemn those actions and appropriately discipline the guilty parties?
The images of hopelessness that symbolized the systemic tolerance of global atrocities were meticulously documented by the dutiful media, and even former US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley was prompted to issue a statement that logged in the validation of stacked up Black bodies of various sizes, against the backdrop of waterlogged chains of bondage.
“To see the pictures of these men being treated like cattle, and to hear the auctioneer describe them as, quote, ‘big strong boys for farm work,’ should shock the conscience of us all.”
But that’s the root of the problem when it comes to the over-saturation of graphic fare, that’s meant to evoke feelings of disbelief and pained realization of the grotesque conditions that Black and Brown templates are subjected to when homelands finally buckle under the duress that comes with centuries of abuse that can’t be rectified.
It took the superhero moves of a Black African migrant, who escaped the precarious situations of his birth country, Mali, and the subsequent death sentence in Libya, by ending up in Paris, France, for his fate to take an unexpected turn.
He once-again risked it all, and this time it was to save a four-year-old boy, dangling from the balcony of a skyscraper, and his heroic actions helped shed light on the dismal plight of African migrants languishing in the French capital.
Emmanuel Macron succumbed to the pressure of the world stage by granting Mammadou Gassama a publicly staged invitation to his neck of the woods, where he formally offered the celebrated Black migrant who was being hailed as the modern day “superman,” the prized citizenship that he wouldn’t have garnered if not for his prophetic encounter with the child who almost died.
The media couldn’t get enough of the “feel-good” story attached to the fantastical outcome of the African migrant, who represented the generosity of the French president, who just days before his symbolic gratitude, had issued warnings of immediate displacement of thousands of migrants who mostly hailed from the same country as his recipient.
From the ultra-violent images and videos of police brutality against targeted communities to the recklessly plastered pictures of drowned migrants, there’s sadly nothing that can be devastating enough to propel those in power into purposeful mobilization on behalf of those who will surely perish without lifesaving reinforcement.
And the media’s useless stance as the conveyor of rapid deposits of Black and Brown hysteria that’s packaged in traumatic loins of activated traffic numbers and clicks, is the testimony of how and why the crimes against humanity will continue to be sustained as the currency of empty debates, and dusty bargaining chips that White colonizers can guiltlessly sort through at a deadly pace.
A picture used to be worth a thousand words, but now its value has been reduced to traffic data.
And that’s just criminal.
FYI: I am no longer sharing images of dead or dying Black and Brown bodies because I was the leader of the pack in that realm and I finally concluded that it really achieves the exact opposite of those lofty goals.