Six days after the media frenzy began, Rachel Dolezal is still making headlines; a brief look into what is and what is not being discussed in the media.
Six days after the story broke; Rachel Dolezal is still dominating headlines. Dolezal, 37, evidently lied about her racial background, claiming that she is of African heritage when in fact she has none. As of the time of the revelation about her racial identity Dolezal was the president of the NAACP chapter and a board member of the Commissioner for the Office of the Police Ombudsman in Spokane, Washington. She was also an instructor of African studies at Eastern Washington University.
What can people take away from this story of a single person with clear mental issues and a possible history of childhood abuse? Objectively speaking not much. This is the story of one person, who has done something fairly reprehensible and ridiculous, but it has no implications other than that.
So why is this news? Well the answer is plain to see. The media simply wants to discredit the institutions and liberal activities she has been associated with. The NAACP, the police oversight committee, her past complaints of hate mail, a petition calling to boycott the movie Exodus: Gods and Kings, these are all being paraded around the nation to discredit African Americans who complain of racism at a time when the riots of Ferguson and Baltimore are fresh in everyone’s minds.
By simply focusing on the story of Dolezal the media is given free reign to just simply point out her association with liberal black rights groups, while never overtly discrediting them, thus making claims of media racism impossible. This is what Michelle Alexander, in her book, The New Jim Crow, points to as the new way that racism manifests itself in this country. It does not explicitly operate as such, but the results are the same as they were prior to the 1960s.
With the media offering no facts of relevance to the American public, the realities of the drug war remain unknown. It seems as though the media have currently perfected the art of allowing facts, cold hard reality, to be locked away behind a wall of meaningless signifiers.
In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander gives a bleak picture of the drug war and its effect on African Americans. Citing studies done on racial profiling she shows how the “war on drugs” is used as an excuse to institute a new system of segregation in the United States. The facts cited in the book are shocking for what they reveal.
In New Jersey, the data showed that only 15 percent of all drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike were racial minorities, yet 42 percent of all stops and 73 percent of all arrests were of black motorists—despite the fact that blacks and whites violated traffic laws at almost exactly the same rate. While radar stops were relatively consistent with the percentage of minority violators, discretionary stops made by officers involved in drug interdiction resulted in double the number of stops of minorities. A subsequent study conducted by the attorney general of New Jersey found that searches on the turnpike were even more discriminatory than the initial stops—77 percent of all consent searches were of minorities. The Maryland studies produced similar results: African Americans comprised only 17 percent of drivers along a stretch of I-95 outside of Baltimore, yet they were 70 percent of those who were stopped and searched. Only 21 percent of al drivers along that stretch of highway were racial minorities...yet those groups comprised nearly 80 percent of those pulled over and searched. What most surprised many analysts was that, in both studies, whites were actually more likely than people of color to be carrying illegal drugs or contraband in their vehicles. In fact in New Jersey, whites were almost twice as likely to be found with illegal drugs or contraband as African Americans, and five times as likely to be found with contraband as Latinos.
Pedestrian stops, too, have been the subject of study and controversy. The New York Police Department released statistics in February 2007 showing that during the prior year its officers stopped an astounding 508,540 people—an average of 1,393 per day—who were walking down the street, perhaps on their way to the subway, grocery store, or bus stop. Often the stops included searches for illegal drugs or guns—searches that frequently required people to lie face down on the pavement or stand spread-eagled against a wall while police officers aggressively groped all over their bodies while bystanders watched or walked by. The vast majority of those stopped and searched were racial minorities, and more than half were African Americans.
The book goes on with page after page of shocking revelation. In a sane society these facts would be widely publicized. However, the media, controlled and operated by white corporate executives in companies like GE and Disney, does not allow these facts to become common knowledge by simply choosing to ignore them. So the story of Dolezal becomes nothing but a drop in the sea of reactionary confusion that allows the status quo to reign, if not flourish.