Tag Archives: Africana Studies

Police Brutality Through the Media Lens

Recently, incidents of police officers shooting and killing African-Americans have gained more attention in the media.

A new study shows a relationship between racial bias and the police use of excessive force against people of color. The study found that police are more likely to use handcuffs, draw their weapons, and use pepper spray or their baton when dealing with people of color.

New technology such as body cameras and smartphones mean more and more officer-involved shootings are being recorded and posted on social media by witnesses. Although police brutality is not a new phenomenon, the coverage by both professional and citizen journalists has made it more prominent. Some hope this coverage will help lessen the violence, but others in the African-American community question the effectiveness of body cams.

“I don’t think it’ll make a difference,” screenwriter and actor Kyle Smith said. “Cops are killing innocent blacks on camera, and getting away with it.”

The Washington Post reports that 991 people were shot by police officers in 2015, but according to data collected by an Ohio researcher, only 26 officers have been convicted of murder or manslaughter.

“As of right now [the new technology] is not working, because even when they’re catching these assassinations and murders on camera, nothing is happening to the cops,” CSUN Africana Studies Professor Aimee Glocke said.

The problem now may be whether or not the media are accurately reporting and portraying these situations, and whether their coverage could actually be helping to perpetuate the violence.

In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting, #BlackLivesMatter arose as a popular hashtag on Twitter to protest the violence that plagued the African American community. Soon the hashtag evolved into an organization geared toward ending the injustice of police brutality. But the attacks on the community have not stopped, and some feel the community and individuals continue to be targeted due to racism and unconscious bias.

“My interaction with the police has absolutely 100 percent always been different from my peers around me,” CSUN’s Black Student Union President Robert T. Wilson III said. “Personally, it would be nice to not have to feel scared; it would be nice to not feel nervous when interacting with the police, and I could be held accountable [only] for the things I do, or the things I do not do.”

The shootings of Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012, and Michael Brown in Missouri in 2014, generated an emotional response because they were young men, both under the age of 18.

“I’m a black mother of a 33-year-old black male and I’m constantly holding my breath,” CSUN Africana Studies Professor Monica Turner said. “There’re no words to describe that kind of torment: when you think about a child that you have loved and nurtured and cared for, [and] someone shooting them down like an animal in cold blood. There’s nothing to describe what that feels like. I really feel terrorized.”

Many politicians and law enforcement experts are calling for a closer examination of police training methods.

“’Just being black’: most police officers will say that’s a reason for excessive force,” Glocke said. “I know there’s a standard, and there’s supposed to be this whole judgement of when you use force, [but] many police officers don’t care. They will shoot first, and ask questions later.”

To view the complete interview with Robert Wilson III, President of the Black Student Union at CSUN, please click here.

Moderator: Thomas Gallegos

Anchor: Ke-Alani Sarmiento

Producer: Alicia Dieguez

Social Media Editors: Nick Torres and Jackie Wawee

Reporters: Alicia Dieguez, Thomas Gallegos, Susana Guzman, Ebony Hardiman, Ke-Alani Sarmiento, Nick Torres and Jackie Wawee

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Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter is a movement which began two years ago, after George Zimmerman was acquitted of the charges against him during the Trayvon Martin murder trial. CSUN was the site of a Black Lives Matters event recently, organized to bring awareness to students about the issues surrounding the cause.

One of the goals of the event was to teach students about what they can do to make a difference. Workshops were held so that students could learn how to become involved in the movement.

“The beautiful thing is, when we teach these things to students, then [they] get a foundation and they can use that foundation to move forward and help Black Lives Matter,” said Dr. Aimee Glocke said, a professor in CSUN’s Department of Africana Studies.

Some have questioned whether BLM’s decision to forego a traditional hierarchy and go without an appointed leader might limit the group’s ability to spread its message and accomplish its goals.

“I feel like that’s a phenomenal way to go,” Glocke said, “because then the idea is that there is a collective voice. There are different perspectives in it, and that includes same gender loving lives [and] black [transgender] individuals who have been murdered by the police…This is a leader-full movement, [and] this gives [it] an advantage, because it includes so many different black people in different walks of life.”

Another response has been to the name of the movement, and expression of the opinion that BLM should be focused on ‘all lives matter’, so it encompasses all ethnic backgrounds, but supporters of the BLM movement say this change would take away from the real problem.

Wesley Williams, the president of CSUN’s Black Male Initiative Organization, explained why the name Black Lives Matter is so important.

“It’s like there are two houses,” Williams said. “A perfectly standing [home] and a burning home….Because all houses matter, we’re going to water down this perfectly fine house while the other one burns. Even though one needs [the water] more than the other.”

“We’re getting murdered; we’re having the trouble with the police,” Williams said. “And other races aren’t being affected by it this dramatically.”

Another problem Black Lives Matter addresses is the media’s often unfair and selective view of Black America.

“The media embraces white supremacy and racism, so how can we ever expect them to give [this movement] a fair portrayal?” Glocke asked.

Glocke said the news media can manipulate the audience by showing only black violence, and almost none of the progressive work that is being done.

“How many news stations showed [the recent Million Man March]?” Glocke asked. “ The idea is here [was] a peaceful, wonderful, community-oriented movement, that revolved around Black Lives Matter, and that doesn’t get shown.”

Police brutality towards the black community is nothing new, but many Americans have become more aware of the issue because of the Internet. The internet’s accessibility makes it easy for people to share any videos documenting these incidents.

BLM has been successful using social media to spread its message. Even the name started out as a hashtag on twitter, and then the movement took off using social media.

“[The police] have control over media as a mass,” Williams said. “They own those. But they don’t own what I post on my Instagram, my Twitter, my Snapchat. Those go around and touch millions of people.”

Social media also make it easy for celebrity figures to get involved and bring these issues into the forefront.

“The people who [are] in a position of power and have the influence, [aren’t always using] it for good,” Williams said. “[These] are the people who the black people really need, and because they don’t care, is why white America [doesn’t] care.”


Moderator: Daisy Lightfoot

Anchor: Sarina Sandoval

Reporters: Jon Gripe, Ashley Horton, Daisy Lightfoot, Andrew Pitters, Sarina Sandoval

Social Media Editors: Jon Gripe, Daisy Lightfoot, Andrew Pitters

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