Racial Clichés: When They Propel Murder Stories

The unspoken argument in the debate surrounding the horrific deaths of Chris Lane and Trayvon Martin is the conflict over institutional prejudice and racism, Eric Deggans writes at CNN.

Posted:
 
christopherlaneshooters082513575lh
Suspects in Christopher Lane's death: Michael Jones, Chancey Luna and James Edwards Jr. (Oklahoma Sheriff's Dept.)

Eric Deggans writes at CNN that the unspoken argument propelling the debate surrounding the horrific deaths of Chris Lane and Trayvon Martin is the conflict over institutional prejudice and racism.

This past week, Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends" and The Daily Caller website both reported the three teens who killed Lane were black. The Daily Caller also published a photo featuring a different, dark-skinned black youth identified as Michael Jones, the white teenager police believe drove the car during the shooting.

Both outlets also criticized President Obama and activists such as the Rev. Al Sharpton for not making an issue of Lane's death in the way they spoke on Martin's killing.

The mistake with Jones' photo recalls a similar error made as some media outlets began publishing material reportedly discovered on Trayvon Martin's closed social media accounts, in an attempt to show he wasn't the innocent teen his family and supporters described.

Both Twitchy.com and Business Insider published photos of a shirtless, young black man facing the camera and providing a middle finger salute with both hands, identifying him as Trayvon.

That person was not the dead teen Trayvon Martin, but a different young black man. About a year later, Zimmerman's defense team released images taken from Martin's cellphone which did show him shirtless, making a similar gesture to the camera, but it's tough to know what that revealed other than a teen with a typical rebellious streak. 

Still, an unspoken argument seems to be wrapped up in these stories. It's the conflict over institutional prejudice and racism.

Read Eric Deggan’s entire piece at CNN.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.