19:47 GMT25 September 2020
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    Recently, news reports appear to have died down regarding the shootings of unarmed black men and women in the US. Does that mean that it is no longer an issue? Despite the lack of coverage this is a situation which is continuing and needs to be fixed, a media expert has told Sputnik.

    A poignant video released by news site, This Matters, it shows US black parents having a frank conversation with their children on the importance of remaining calm when speaking to a police officer.

    In one heartbreaking talk, the parent tells her child: "Do everything that you can to get back to me."

    These conversations are not unusual or unique, they are commonplace, as are the killings of unarmed men and women in the US. However, reports on recent shootings are only being covered by local US media sites.

    In case you missed it, the latest shooting took place on February 18, when a 22-year-old unarmed black man was shot by police in Portland, US.

    According to The Counted, a database run by the Guardian that lists all the men and women killed by the police in the US since 2015, the last unarmed black man to die in 2016 was a 39-year-old man named Marlon Lewis Taylor from North Carolina. 

    Lewis was in an agitated state, according to reports, and officers tried to shock him with a taser, however he soon became unresponsive, was handcuffed and died shortly after.

    The difference between this story and others before it, is that it barely made, let alone the front page, but any sort of coverage in mainstream media at all.

    When other unarmed black men, such as Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed by police officers in the US in July 2016, soon after, protests broke out globally and the world's media was focused on the abhorrent injustice towards African Americans' rights in the "land of the free."

    Dr. Wilmer Leon, political TV host and commentator, discussed with Sputnik the sudden lack of media attention around the issue and how it is most definitely still a problem in the United States of America.

    "Mainstream media has not been reporting these killings for a few reasons. A great deal of mainstream media coverage has focused on the US President Donald Trump, there has been very little space provided to cover any other stories. Also, there has not been the public outcry displayed by protests and other types of public action to call attention to the recent killings," Dr. Leon told Sputnik.

    ​Dr. Leon believes the media has became easily distracted by other issues, because these atrocities are not being committed upon their friends and loved ones in the communities in which they live. 

    "It reverts back to being the 'story of the other' instead of an on-going problem with a very long historical context. Also, once the narrative/focus shifted away from the police atrocities in African American communities and became focused on 'Blue Lives Matter' and protecting the police from 'unwarranted attacks,' mainstream media no longer covered it," Dr. Leon added. 

    The US president recently visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, and in his speech, he pledged that he would "unite the country and combat bigotry."

    ​Dr. Leon says however that Donald Trump needs to understand the driving force behind the division, making reference to the president's comments around the city of Chicago. According to Dr. Leon, Trump sees it as just a crime problem, but fails to understand that crime is the result of other much larger issues such as poverty, poor education, no jobs or opportunity, and that crime is a direct byproduct of hopelessness.

    "According to an article in the Slate.com, the average white family has a net worth of US$116,000. In comparison, nearly 40 percent or 5.6 million African American homes in the US have zero or negative net worth. In addition, when you deduct the family car as an asset, the median black family in America only has a net worth of US$1,700 dollars," Dr. Leon told Sputnik.

    The divide between rich and poor, black and white is an inherent problem in the US, and Dr. Leon, as many others, believes that the struggle of African Americans in the US, and perhaps of black people across the globe, for equality and to simply remain alive, is embedded in slavery.

    "There is no other group of people in the history of the world that has been subjected to the Constitutional, legal and social oppression and terrorism that blacks and African Americans have been subjected to, continue to be subjected to and still been able to make the advancements that we have made," Dr. Leon concluded. 

    Some may say that the killing of unarmed black men and women may not warrant the same media attention as it had previously, but the root cause of the problem remains and is an issue worth reporting.


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    unarmed suspect, police shootings, wealth gap, wealth inequality, African American, civil rights, life, slavery, Black Lives Matter, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Donald Trump, United States
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