No Univision? Then, No News of the Dominican Story
If you don't have access to Univision, then you have been getting a very incomplete picture of the victims of the tragic American Airlines Flight 587 crash. If you were to take an uncritical glance through the coverage of the aftermath of the plane crash, courtesy of programs such as The Today Show, you might even think the only victims were those on the ground in the New York City borough of Queens, where the plane exploded.
U.S. media coverage of the early hours after the crash was so focused on whether or not what happened involved a terrorist attack, it displayed gross insensitivity to the families of the victims. The news networks displayed the flight number of the plane, but failed to show the 1-800 number through which family members could call to inquire about whether or not there loved ones were on the flight and if they were dead or alive. My colleagues and I at BlackElectorate.com went through all of the major cable channels -- MSNBC, Fox, CNN, CNBC -- and none of them provided the information we described.
But that was not the case on Univision. The Spanish-network had the 1-800 number for family members and friends to get more information. And they had pictures of grieving family members at the airports -- at JFK in Queens and in the Dominican Republic -- who had just learned the worst.
Univision wasn't uncritically biased toward people from the Dominican Republic. It showed pictures live from the crash scene that the major networks did not. We noticed a similar scenario on Sept. 11 when Univision had videotape footage of the first plane going into the World Trade Center -- footage not seen on American mainstream media until several days later.
Yesterday, after the crash in Queens, we waited and watched and were open, but had no other choice but to come to the conclusion that there is a bias toward White-skinned victims in this country. Over and over again, we were provided pictures and stories of the losses in the Queens neighborhood, where the plane blew up, and virtually nothing of the 255 passengers bound for the Dominican Republic.
Certainly the plane was filled by Dominican-Americans or people that feel just as proud to be recognized as American citizens as any person whose family came to this country from Europe. Don't they qualify for the same coverage as those who were unfortunate enough to live in that Queens neighborhood, we wondered?
Why is the life of the pilot of Flight number 587, Sten Molin, more sacred than any of the other 250-plus passengers, in the eyes of the mainstream media? It all goes back to our thesis on the devaluation of non-White life.
This may seem like a minor, trivial or even irritating focus for some. But when Whites want to understand why others in this country feel they are not respected or valued as much as they (Whites) are, they could pay a little more attention to events like the tragedy of Flight 587.
We received several emails and did in fact see a few articles written about the lack of media coverage of the Black firefighters and police officers -- two professions that are respected on par with soldiers in the U.S. military. People were hurt by the sleight they feel Blacks and Latinos receive on a daily basis when they have served and, in many cases, suffered more than their White counterparts.
We also notice this phenomenon every year when we have to squint to find coverage honoring Black veterans of all of America's wars. When Blacks and Latinos complain of discrimination, they are told they are focusing too much on race. But when tragedies occur that hit Americans of all races, the image of the White-skinned victim is the one that is plastered across television and print media. Is that not race-consciousness?
That New York Governor George Pataki and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani had to make a special reference to the suffering of the "Dominican" community is only a sign of the problem. No matter how much Whites who are in establishment positions attempt to state otherwise, a special distinction is made when Americans who are non-White go through similar experiences as other citizens.
On a bit of a tangent, we find it very hard to imagine the vast immigration measures being taken against immigrants from European nations had the terrorist attacks been orchestrated by Irish, German and Italian nationals. And we can't dream of a scenario whereby over 1,000 White-skinned persons in this country would be "detained" indefinitely as a result of the criminal actions of other White-skinned individuals.
Just look at the lack of profiling activity that accompanied the arrest and conviction of the White-skinned, crew cut wearing, militia-honoring male Timothy McVeigh. Certainly an official or unofficial APB could have been put out for all similar-looking individuals suspiciously hanging around federal buildings.
And what about an all-out effort to stop or report any pale young White males who look like Timothy McVeigh, wandering near any government facility -- something like how "swarthy, Arab-looking" individuals give people the creeps at airports and on planes.
So if you want to learn more of what Americans of another complexion are feeling, check out Univision and maybe even Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab network. You don't even need to know Spanish or Arabic -- it is amazing how the language of human suffering is the same, across ethnic, geographical and color lines, even within this country.
Too bad The Today Show and others ignore that phenomenon while they style themselves as advocates of a color-blind American society.
Cedric Muhammad is the founder of Blackelectorate.com, which provides economic and political analysis.