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Why Do the Media Ignore Race in the Elliot Rodger Killings?

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An undated photo of murder suspect Elliot Rodger is seen at a press conference by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff in Goleta, California May 24, 2014
Photo Credit: AFP

The 24/7 news cycle is not interested in finding the truth about a given matter, and then subsequently offering up useful information that can in turn be used to create an educated and informed electorate.

Instead, the mainstream corporate news media is driven by superficial discussions of topics of public concern that can drive ratings.

As I wrote  here and here, Elliot Rodger should be a focal point for a discussion of broader issues about race, gun violence, gender, and mental health issues. Apparently, those most obvious concerns and questions are verboten on the Right...and even among some on the "Left" who have internalized the norms of "colorblind" racism.

Neither white conservatives nor white liberals want to talk seriously about white privilege and Whiteness as it relates to Elliot Rodger: it would seem that both sides are largely in agreement about the necessity of protecting the nobility and innocence of Whiteness and White Masculinity.

I am fascinated by how race has not been more central to the mainstream media's discussion of Elliot Rodger's murder rampage. By comparison, the conversation about Elliot Rodger and gender is much more sharp and enlightened.

However, there has not been, with a  few exceptions, a focused discussion of how Elliot Rodger, a white Asian,  internalized white racism and White Supremacy against people of color, and then acted upon it through misogynist violence.

Nor have I witnessed a conversation in the mainstream media about Elliot Rodger, the question of "mixed race" identity, and the  specific mental health challenges around self-esteem and anxiety which some members of that group may experience because of their "racial" identities.

My claims are precise and careful: I am not arguing that self-identified "mixed-race" or "biracial" people are more prone to mass shootings, gun violence, or the like. No. The data do not support such a claim.

Rather, I am interested in how the media is not talking about how Elliot Rodger, a version of the tragic mulatto figure,  a self-hating Asian-American with  deep levels of internalized racism, had those feelings mated and mixed with (likely) preexisting mental health issues, and then committed mass murder based on his  racist and sexist motivations.

The mass media seeks out simple explanations for complex problems. As such, discussions of race and racism are flat, ahistorical, and lack nuance. In the case of Elliot Rodger, it would be both easy, and also a public service, for a news program to feature a panel discussion with psychologists, historians, mental health practitioners, anti-racism activists, and (other) social scientists to discuss how internalized racism can lead to violence.

I am transparent. I have dated and loved across the color line. I did so without apology or regret.

One of my rules for a long-term relationship with someone who is not black is that we must eventually have a conversation about the racial identity of our potential offspring.

I am a Black American. My children will be Black Americans. Regardless of the "racial" identity of their mother, our/my/her children must be given the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, moral, and philosophical armor to navigate a white racist society. I have that basic obligation as their father.

Those children will be black and may have a white, Asian, Hispanic, or First Nations, mother. One identity does not make impossible the other. Ultimately, I would consider myself a failure as a father if my "mixed race" child came home, confused that someone called him or her a "nigger", as they imagined themselves to not be a black person.