When a tragic event occurs in Western Europe, I just sit back and watch how family and friends choose to respond. Many of my friends do not realize that they subconsciously grieve deeper and longer for and about white tragedy. They grieve deeper for tragedy that specifically relates to maintaining the well-being and power balance in historically colonial nations. For example, when tragedy affects: the United States, England, Spain, or France, many of my colleagues and peers express deeper concern and attention for the victims and citizens of said nations.
Also note: Facebook Safety Checks Are Not For Arabs.
This is a direct result of the historical relationships between Western European powers and the United States; relationships that still affect the notion of what it means to be truly American. So the ideology of racism has evolved and has been reproduced overtime through rituals. Professor Barbara J. Fields believes “an ideology does not have a life of its own but must instead by affirmed by a perpetuation of rituals handed down and replicated by successive generations.”
According to racial formation theorists Omi and Winant, mass shootings essentially “reinforce white privilege and reconstruct an opposing ‘forever foreigner’ status for non-whites.” The media’s different reactions to black and white shooters, along with levels of sympathy for black vs. white victims has created what Omi and Winant call “a type of racial project.”
“Racial projects link significations or representations of race, on the one hand, with social structural manifestations of racial hierarchy or dominance on the other.”
These racial projects often leads to color-blind racism, or racism caused by a lack of attention or acknowledgment to race or racial formation. This can lead to disproportionate media coverage of black vs. white tragedy.
For example, an estimated 150 students were killed in Kenya in April. While Facebook users are just now learning of massive attacks beyond Paris i.e. Beirut, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and more, there is still an overarching sense of denial amongst many American Facebook users.
The terrorist attacks in Nigeria and Kenya are just two of many examples of black tragedy receiving scarce media attention.
So many Americans seem more concerned about 100 Parisians getting killed when police officials have killed over 100 black people this year in the United States.
The outward concern for Paris is necessary. But it also shows how much media coverage and media exposure is influenced by one of America’s most prized values – Eurocentrism. The filters and safety check-ins and tweets for Paris while terrorist attacks are being waged against several brown and black populations shows just how Eurocentric western media can be.
Sources: The Guardian, The New York Times, Michael Omi and Howard Winant, eds., Racial Formation in the United States, Second
Edition, pp. 3-13., Mingus, William, and Bradley Zopf. “White Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry the Racial Project in Explaining Mass Shootings”. Social Thought & Research 31 (2010): 57–77