Is your pain greater than my pain?

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

In the course of human tragedies, it seems media coverage is determined basically from factors surrounding race and social status. This may sound like a cruel statement for some, but for many, especially those of color, this is their reality. This conclusion is based on media coverage of traumatic and painful situations in which a loved one is missing, harmed, or even murdered. Often the person of color is acknowledged at that time—but that is the end of the coverage with little if any ongoing follow-up reported. However, it seems if the victim is of European ancestry, additional time and information is made available with daily, weekly or monthly reports detailing the progress being made—especially relating to a missing person or murder.

While there are those who may disagree, people from predominantly Black communities or from socio/economically disadvantaged communities will readily attest to its veracity. It is common speculation that tragedies affecting Blacks are not given the same attention and empathy as those affecting Whites. This type of media coverage has played a huge role in how children of color perceive themselves, helping to harbor feelings of inferiority, low self-esteem and self-hate. Many studies have addressed the current media’s coverage of Blacks as detrimental to their emotional, psychological and social development—especially concerning their early developmental stage. It is a topic constantly talked about in the Black community but never really addressed in the White media.

Why is there an added initiative to draw more empathy and concern for some people’s pain than others? Pain and suffering know no boundaries. It is a human condition that should warrant everyone’s concern. Unfortunately, public attention is often solicited when some horrendous tragedy or mishap occurs in a predominately White prestigious middle or upper class neighbor. Ironically it is usually the same type of tragedy that went unreported or with little coverage concerning a person of color or taking place in a predominately Black neighborhood. Shame on anyone treating the situation differently based on race and status. Pain and suffering have only one face and are not immune to any one family.

The Trayon Martin tragedy involving stalking and culminating in his death brought national attention to a situation that has long been taking place among young Blacks in our nation. It was basically ignored and virtually under reported. But if a White male had been in the same circumstances, we all know without hesitation that events and steps would have been expeditiously put in motion to combat this type of harassment—even if it meant changing laws. The media’s coverage of a heinous act causing harm or death to another person should not be trivialized or diluted based on the victim’s race or status. The pain and suffering of the victim’s family, friends and community should be felt by all. We all should be spiritually intertwined.

I guess the truth of the matter is that many middle class Whites in their isolated and comfortable communities are either unconcerned or in denial of the reality of the pain, suffering, and loss of life occurring in predominately Black communities. It is only when these senseless tragedies visit their neighborhood or happen to their loved ones, does the media evoke mass empathy and project a non-ending effort to get to the bottom of the situation and bring those involved to justice.

Let’s make a collaborate effort to acknowledge and minimize or eradicate unnecessary pain suffering and loss of life regardless of the person or economic status. First, we must take our heads out of the sand and acknowledge that this type of racism is more prevalent than we realize. It is only through open dialogue that we can truly make an effort to correct this practice. My pain is your pain and your pain is my pain. It all warrants equal consideration, action, coverage and urgency in finding justice.