What keeps racism alive?

by Melyssa Brais on October 28, 2014 - 7:54pm

In her article “Views You Can Use: ‘No Angel,’ Bad Journalism?” published in U.S. News on August 26th, 2014, Teresa Welsh discusses the criticism that the New York Times has been facing following the profile it published of Michael Brown, a young black man who was killed by a police officer a few weeks earlier. In his profile, the victim is said to be “no angel,” a statement to which many react. It was observed by Kia Makarechi, senior editor of the Huffington Post, that the same statement has been used by the journal several times in the past only when referring to brutal criminals or people of color. On the other hand, some say that the profile is in no way provocative. They defend the story by saying that it fulfills its purpose of providing the public with a great sense of who Michael Brown was as a person; that all of the information on the subject (both positive and less positive) was given by friends and family of the victim, which gives the reporter (John Eligon) the right to use that information.

The article explained that Michael Brown was “no angel” because he did not get decent grades in school; because he had a certain relation with members of a gang; or because he could talk back to his parents, which, if you ask me, are not good enough reasons to label a person as a troublemaker. I can understand that perhaps the author of the story wanted to portray Brown in a more authentic and accurate way by mentioning his qualities, and not leaving out some of his flaws, which altogether made him who he was. However, perhaps he could have done so more objectively; without necessarily adding in that the teen was “no angel,” a comment through which the author expresses his opinion. I feel as though the comment highlights the idea that it was possible that he had a bad side, and if people start to believe that this is true, it would be easy for them to associate the color of his skin with negative behavior because of different stereotypes, which we have spoken of in class. The author’s words only promote the idea that blacks engage in more crime, and keep alive the stereotypes that they are dangerous and should be feared. Due to this, I disagree with the side in the article that supports the profile that was written of Michael Brown, and think that Makarechi makes a very valid point when she brings up how criminals were considered as being no angels, just as individuals of color are.  I do, however, appreciate that the article by Welsh is written in the way that it demonstrates both sides of the debate of whether or not the New York Times article is appropriate. Readers get to reflect on the different arguments, and then form a just opinion on the matter. As we have seen in class, stereotypes are very difficult to get rid of; they are an obstacle in the way of humanity overcoming the issue of racism. I strongly believe that, with the help of the education system and through social awareness programs for the public, there is hope in changing this wrong mentality. 



Welsh, T. (2014, August 26). Views You Can Use: ‘No Angel,’ Bad Journalism? Retrieved October 28, 2014 from      http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2014/08/26/new-york-times-article...


Your post was really interesting! What initially caught my attention was your title as it is a question I've been asking myself for a few months now. As for the rest of your post, the topic intrigued me and the writing style had a nice flow to it, which is why I chose to read it.
Like you, I understand why the author of the article would want to portray Michael Brown as an authentic young man who not only had qualities but flaws as well. However, I agree with the point you bring up that by referring to Michael Brown as being "no angel," the author is lacking objectivity. By publishing that harsh and unnecessary description of the victim in The New York Times, the author is influencing a large amount of individuals into believing that people of color are more prone to committing crimes and therefore enforcing ridiculous stereotypes. As you mentioned at the end of your post, I also agree that through the education system, we can overcome the issue of racism. In my opinion, we can only benefit by implementing anti-racist education in schools, as young children will develop critical thinking skills in regards to racial injustice. Furthermore, they will grow up knowing that racial discrimination should not be a normalized aspect of society and instead of using the many discourses of democratic racism or applying the "color blind" approach, they will instead take action in the fight against racism.
However, teaching children about racism is only the first step to putting a stop to it. People are so quick to say that racism can't exist in a democratic society, yet racial injustice and stereotypes surrounds us. Should we not emphasize the real problem which is that in most cases, the adults raising those children are blind to the fact that stereotypes still control their impressions of minority groups?