The front page of the “Metro” section of Wednesday’s Oregonian featured the family of a man who was shot to death recently at a bar. Large photos of the survivors feature prominently in the paper. There is also a photo of the victim himself, Leonard Irving. All are black, and The Oregonian tells us that…
It’s easy for those of us whose blocks don’t regularly ring out with gunfire to ignore the rising tide of violence –much of it gang-related, most impacting historically African American neighborhoods — that Portland is experiencing this year. It’s tempting to write off an event like Sunday’s shooting as the kind of bad thing that happens to bad people, or at least people foolish enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This particular article says hardly a thing about the perpetrator but, from the context (and the fact that his photo is not included in the story) it is obvious that he is also black. But the problem, we are told, is not black criminals. Not at all. The problem, called a “tide of violence” is something that just seems to happen all by itself – like some sort of virus or weather phenomenon – and it “impacts historically black neighborhoods”. So, if a neighborhood has only been black for five years, it is not likely to be impacted by this “tide of violence” – because it is not historically black? Somehow I doubt that. Obviously, the word “historically” is used in order to give the impression that it is – you guessed it – the legacy of slavery that is to blame. But of course! Young black men murder other black men because of slavery. Incidentally, a photo of the murderer can be found here.
The story the Oregonian tells us is one of a struggling family trying to overcome drugs and crime and, to a certain degree, prevailing. Far be it from me to judge this family; I don’t know them and there is nothing to be gained from rubbing salt in their wounds. But, reading through the article, I couldn’t help but notice something missing. There is a certain element that we find over and over again, when the media deals with victims of violent crime. When Carter Strange, for example, had recuperated enough, from the savage beating he got from vicious black thugs, one of the first things asked of him (and his father) was if he could forgive his attackers. Forgiveness is typically one of the first things reporters ask about, when interviewing crime victims or their survivors. Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong, but is it only whites who are expected to forgive?