The problem with media coverage of the protests in Ferguson and the way the mainstream media has followed this and other injustice issues can be traced back to the media’s adherence to the politics of respectability. The politics of respectability is a line of thinking that posits if black people [or insert other group] would just conform to notions of respectability–be peaceful, pull pants up, not wear hoodies–[insert other behavioral modification]–then tragedy would not happen. This tactic is as offensive as it is ridiculous.
The police have tried to use this tactic to justify the murder of Mike Brown by releasing the unrelated video at the convenience store. The media has used this tactic to sensationalize the protests and justify the actions of a police force that thinks that tear gas, tanks, and automatic weapons are proper crowd control tools. Clear thinking people need to stop falling for this. Iyanla Vanzant and President Obama, both people I respect, I’m looking at you.
I find it highly ironic that the police thought the best way to respond to protests about the police’s gunning an unarmed teen down is to point guns and have snipers target unarmed protesters. Way to show that the police in Ferguson don’t have a problem with its use of force.
Anyway, Jay Smooth provides a perfect explanation of the politics of respectability in this this video from his “Ill Doctrine” Vlog, which was his response to another example when the media played this “respectability” card during the Trayvon Martin case.
We will never be good enough if the bar for right treatment is not simply a given. If you have to prove your humanity in order to deserve freedom, justice and equality than the society we live in does not really believe in freedom, justice and equality.