‘Evil’ or Mentally Ill: Is There a Media Bias Against Black Moms Who Commit Horrible Acts?

She Matters: Stories about white people who commit heinous crimes often try to humanize them. That’s not often the case with black people.

Christian Clark CBS Pittsburgh screenshot

A 21-year-old mother of two in Pittsburgh was charged with criminal homicide Tuesday after she allegedly killed her infant son and attempted to kill her daughter. According to a report from the Associated Press, the mom, Christian Clark, flew into a “jealous, vengeful rage” because she believed her boyfriend, Andre Price Jr., 23, was cheating on her with another woman.

Over a two-hour span, Clark texted her boyfriend repeatedly, saying that he and the children had ruined her life and threatening to harm the children. “Ya kids ain’t safe here I don’t want them here,” she wrote in one of dozens of text messages. “Answer me or im going to jail for child endangerment,” another text read.

Price didn’t take his girlfriend’s threats seriously, despite Clark’s history of abuse toward the children. Earlier this year, he’d posted pictures of Clark on Facebook that showed her choking both of the children. His caption said that Clark had done so because she was angry that she was no longer in a relationship with Price. He never contacted the police. And he continued, as evidenced, to leave the children in Clark’s care.

Even after Clark sent a video showing her grabbing her daughter Angel’s hair hard enough to make her cry, Price barely responded to her. It wasn’t until she sent a video of the couple’s son, Andre Price III, showing his limp body and Clark saying, “Might want to call the ambulance,” did Price express any real concern.

“Try to wake him up I said hold him,” he texted. He never called her in an attempt to intervene.

Clark responded, “All cus you wanted to go [have sex with] her & come here when you like.” She also threatened to call 911.

“You need to if he dead,” Price said.

He never called the police. Price has been arrested and charged with two counts of child endangerment for his inaction.

I’ve read multiple accounts of this horrific story on various news sites. Each one is filled with the tragic, documented details of Clark’s action and Price’s nonchalant responses. She’s being painted as a monster, and Price’s depiction isn’t much better. And given the tragic death of a child and the impact on the surviving child, who was abused that night and likely witnessed this tragedy, perhaps I shouldn’t expect much sympathy or compassion in this case. But I do.

And here’s why: Because in similar cases in which white people do unspeakable things, there’s often an attempt to humanize them and evoke sympathy from readers. There’s a mention of their job or hobbies. There’s an interview with a relative who talks about how much the mother loved the children. There’s a picture of the mom and kids in happier times. There’s also often a mention of mental illness. When white people commit heinous crimes, the idea that they were good people who became unhinged is touted. With black people like Clark, it’s just, she’s jealous and evil and that’s it.

What Clark did is obviously awful. I’m not here to argue otherwise. I am also not here to justify it in any way. I am here to wonder why, in stories detailing her horrific crime, which screams mental illness or even postpartum depression, neither one is being brought up.

Sane people don’t go on two-hour text rants documenting their intent to kill children. They don’t send photos and videos that will obviously be used in a court of law against them. And even if it crosses their mind, they don’t actually kill their kid. Something ain’t right with this young woman. And it’s more than her being “just” evil.

I can’t imagine being 21 with two children ages 2 and under. Yes, Clark chose to have children. They are her responsibility. But that doesn’t mean it’s not overwhelming for her to deal with. I wonder about her support system if the child’s father reacts to a picture of her choking the kids by posting it on social media. Is he uncaring? Or is he immature and crying for help?

Adding an unstable relationship with a man who she thinks is cheating on her only makes Clark’s situation worse. She may have felt trapped. She said she felt as if Price and the kids had ruined her life. Again, that is not a justification for murder; it’s pointing out that it’s a lot for one person to deal with, even if she is not suffering from mental illness and/or PPD. And maybe one of the people covering Clark’s story could have had the compassion to point that out.

Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She is also a blogger at SeeSomeWorld.com, where she covers pop culture and travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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