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An interesting analysis of media coverage of marginalized communities in the United States appeared on Slate today. It’s hard to deny that the way some people speak to the press is amusing. But at the same time, this article shows how media organizations often interview amusing people only from low-income communities of color just for entertainment purposes, leaving the serious commentary for the mostly white “experts.” However, this type of media coverage of such events actually reveals s0mething more: how crimes and natural disasters are often handled (or not) in poor communities, as well as a tendency by media organizations to use interviewees as sound bites to fuel media attention using racial stereotypes and mockery without talking about the real issues behind these events.
In the most recent case of Amanda Berry’s rescuer, Charles Ramsey, the auto-tuned clips of his funny comments mask the reality of neglect and police inaction in certain communities in the U.S. in responding to reports of crimes or natural disasters. The Charles Ramsey internet memes feed off cheap racial profiling. They serve to distract from facts that are neither mentioned nor discussed in the mass media:
) The emergency response network at first didn’t believe him and didn’t want to respond to the call until Amanda Berry herself also called from his home phone
2) Police didn’t respond to other neighbors reporting having seen the girls being abused. One woman waited 2 hours until the police came and by that time, the incident had already happened. The girls were missing for over ten years. It seems strange that with police reports and sightings from neighbors, and with the perpetrator’s past domestic abuse record, the police never investigated the house before.
For another look at and an in-depth report on this, see:
By Rebecca Ellis
A few days ago, I sat across the table from a genuine homophobe, a homemaker I met in Mexico City. Sitting in her kitchen, she approached the subject of homosexuality, talking about how God (https://www.facebook.com/GodQuotes?fref=ts) created people. “He created us all, each with these little holes and little sticks, like this,” she said, gesticulating with the appropriate hand gestures. “So there´s a reason why He thinks homosexuality is a sin. We were meant to be together only as man and woman.” Underlining her point with a repeated round of hand gestures, she added, “Remember, little holes and little sticks…”
Rather than be offended or mortified, I burst out laughing. Strangely, she was laughing too. It was as if she couldn’t take her own comments seriously. I couldn’t contain myself and I almost fell out of the chair. As tears rolled down my face, I stopped her performance by replying, “I got it, thanks.” I never thought homophobia could be so entertaining.
Anyway, I had to think of this woman again when I read about Michelle Shocked’s @MShocked outburst against the #Prop8 amendment protecting gay marriage during a performance at Yoshi’s @yoshisSF_OAK in San Francisco.
“When they stop Prop 8 and force priests at gunpoint to marry gays, it will be the downfall of civilization, and Jesus will come back,” she told the surprised crowd.
Of course, given the fact that the venue is gay-owned — and in San Francisco — Shock effectively killed it that night, emptying out the place. On their way out, she reminded her guests to tweet “Michelle Shocked said God hates faggots,” (not “fags” as had been misreported and promptly corrected by Shocked on Twitter).
Rather than giving her audience the love-bombing they deserved in the San Francisco club, Michelle Shocked “hate-bombed” the spot that night, causing the rest of the shows on her tour in the U.S. to be canceled. Her subsequent apology, whether genuine or just an attempt to salvage her career, may be tainted by what many perceive to be an abrupt turnaround for the folk singer.
While in the past, Shocked made public statements criticizing the church’s intolerance toward gays and lesbians, she is now a self-described Biblical fundamentalist. Since joining the Pentecostal West Angeles Church of God in Christ’s choir in the nineties, she seems to have changed her tune, going from an “honorary lesbian” to a gay-bashing born-again Christian.
In any case, given the recent assertions about God’s view on homosexuality made by both Michelle Shocked and the happy homemaker I met the other day, I decided to investigate the validity of their claims. Already familiar with the God-related buzz on social media, I thought why not consult the prime Influencer himself? I discovered that God has quite a wide reach on Facebook, with 3,743,410 likes and 89,231 talking about him. In fact, he had quite a few wall postings on the subjects of forgiveness, black smoke, joy and peace, but strangely, nothing about gays. He´s on Twitter too, but with only 632 followers (http://twitter.com/OurGodQuotes) and a single tweet, a retweet actually, from another source, citing Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heaven.” Again, nothing about gays, or sticks or holes.
Both of these women’s comments brought to mind a quote from Ann Lamott, a novelist who also lives in the City of Sin: “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
As I log off and the work day comes to a close, I remain perplexed and confounded by what the hubbub is about. I wonder why people can’t just leave their egos and their hate at the door, reflect on whatever G-d/dess they choose, and if that day ever comes, let Him or Her speak for Itself.