Monday, December 7, 2015

How Race Dominates Media Narratives

I made a post a long damn time ago -- that has since been deleted -- regarding an incident at a New York restaurant called Dallas BBQ, in which a tall black man was on video assaulting two white men, with the end result being a chair broken against the head of the one of the men by the black man in question. The video is here:

In the interests of being impartial and unbiased, I immediately condemned the actions of the black man, and dismissed the individuals trying to justify his actions. I was all "wrong is wrong" and "It is just as bad when black people attack white people because of the color of their skin," Boy, was I on a roll with my righteous indignation towards Bayna El-Amin, the black man in the video seen attacking Ethan York-Adams and Jonathan Snipes. And the thing is, it doesn't matter if the perpetrator is black and the victims are white when the attack is racially motivated. But here's the other thing:

None of that applies here.

None of it. Because a subsequent video released that shows the events that takes place beforehand, not only does it cast the accounts of the victims in a different light, but it also forces and compels me, the champion of racial objectivity, to eat some serious fucking crow. Here is the video:

Now, this video doesn't show some innocent little victim being accosted by the big bad homophobic racist black man (who also happens to be gay, but that part was ignored in the beginning), but shows one of the men going over to El-Amin and hitting him. More importantly, the video shows El-Amin had been seated before anything happened, and although there is no audio, one can deduce that words had been said beforehand. What is also missing from the video is the account that one of the men gave to the publication DNA Info where it is said that the men were jumped. Did you see anyone get jumped? Because I sure as hell didn't. What I saw was a "mouthy broad" -- as Snipes describes himself in the article -- being more than mouthy and being handsy as well, escalating what appears to be the exchange of choice words into a full on brawl.

The article also notes how the "attackers" left the scene, even though both videos only show ONE person -- El-Amin-- that was leaving, with what appeared to be friends following behind. On top of that, neither men went to the hospital for their injuries, but Snipes was eager as hell to run over to a publication and tell his story, and one that conspicuously leaves out the part that he started it and adds more phantom assailants to the mix with El-Amin.

El-Amin has had his life turned upside down because of this. He has been charged with assault (although the newly released video should at least knock the charges down, or see charges filed against Snipes, who instigated the whole incident), and more importantly, he has been vilified as this homophobic white-man hating brute. Granted, El-Amin towered over the two men, namely Snipes, but: 

1. It doesn't matter how tall or short El-Amin is, as he has every right to defend himself.

2. I'm sure Snipes assessed the situation the first time he got knocked down and still tried to go after El-Amin. He was belligerent in the video.

3. The minute you put your hands on someone, regardless of their size, you forfeit the expectation of not getting hit back.

Now... this is hard for me. Because in my zeal to be seen as someone who can call out wrong regardless of race, I fed into a narrative that has been around for ages, and that is the immediate painting of black individuals as the criminals and the white individuals as the victims, and the size differences coupled with the first released video played right into that static, and I went with it. Not only was I wrong, but it removed any benefit of the doubt that Bayna El-Amin should have been given, but in today's world of judge and jury, I was only interested in what the video showed, not context or the events leading up to it... or another video. I was wrong. The end. No excuses, no "but what had happened was...", no attempt to sugarcoat my own ass-reaming wrongness. I was wrong. And even though El-Amin will likely never see this, I do apologize to him for being so quick to think the worst of him.

But, I do stand by some of the things I said initially. El-Amin took it too far with the chair, and he could have seriously hurt or killed York-Adams as he was the one in the video who got the full brunt of the chair. But, I also feel that Snipes should face charges along with El-Amin, and I feel that DNA Info should put an addendum on Snipes' account or retract it altogether... because I see the media has a habit of continuing with a salaciously popular false story while burying the real story/mea culpa and the public just goes by the first shit. El-Amin deserves better than to be painted as some monster and the public deserves better than to be misled by a lying fame whore who got his ass kicked because he picked the wrong one to be a "mouthy broad" to... you know, the type that will hit you back if you hit them. I'll say the same thing to Snipes that I would to a woman that decides she wants to get in a man's face and hit him: All bets are off when you put your hands on someone. Whether he took it too far or not, your ass would have stayed un-kicked had you exercised some restraint and walked away or kept your hands to yourself.

I don't condone physical violence, but there's a reason I have not gotten into any altercations in the last 10 years. It due in part to the fact that I will walk away, regardless of the name calling or taunts. You never let someone dictate the way you behave, as that just demonstrates how weak a person you are. Jonathan Snipes, you ought to be ashamed of yourself as it was your actions that got your boyfriend hit with that chair. He was the one who had restraint, but you wanted to be a moron and start a fight... and he bore the consequences of your poor actions. 

At this point, the charges against El-Amin should be dropped or reduced, if either hasn't happened as of yet. And at this point, certain media outlets need to do better when first reporting on incidents like these, and wait for the facts to come out instead of listening to a biased firsthand account that completely removes blame where blame belongs. Now, this will not change the way I post or state my opinion, as I still feel that we as black people need to be policing our own fuckery instead of only looking at injustices when they involve someone not black... but this ain't the story to make that point nor does it take away from real racial injustices or people attempting to play up racial stereotypes, whether consciously or subconsciously. 

Okay, I'm done... for real.

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