On the day of Michael Brown’s funeral, the New York Times picked the most inappropriate time to lambaste the slain teenager. In the piece chronicling Brown’s last weeks of life, before he was killed by Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson, New York Times writer John Eligon stated that Brown was “no angel” partly because of his love of rap lyrics, having “dabbled in” drugs and alcohol, and getting into at least one fight:
Although the Times did state that Brown had no adult criminal record, that fact didn’t stop the paper from dragging his name through the mud. Even though Brown’s parents seem to have cooperated with the story, I’m going to assume they didn’t realize that Brown would be painted in such a negative light.
What the f—k is wrong with the New York Times? I’ll tell you what’s wrong: In most mainstream media, victims of color continue to be victimized and criminalized even in death. As I read the article, my anger rose—not only as a parent of a young black man but also because just two weeks ago I wrote a blog post about #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, which discussed the imagery the media choose to use when it comes to black men. And this New York Times article is clearly a prime example of that.
But I’m not the only one outraged; people on Twitter have expressed similar sentiments:
The article has also birthed the hashtag #NoAngel:
The New York Times is absolutely correct: Brown wasn’t an angel. He was a teenager who did things most American teenagers have done. But what he wasn’t was a killer cop. The real “no angel” here is Darren Wilson.