The morning after the Derek Chauvin verdict, I woke up to Fox News being subconsciously racist and seeing no fault in it. This yields a great opportunity to demonstrate how systemic racism works. Fox News released a headline that morning associating LeBron James with violence despite him or his tweet they reported on having absolutely no relationship with any violence whatsoever. The headline read, “Intense backlash over Lebron James’ tweet allegedly inciting violence against Ohio cop who shot teen.” Lebron James’ tweet literally read, “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY.” Now I’m not defending him based on rhetoric or him strategically sub-communicating a call to violence by leaving a gap in his message that his intended audience would complete using common knowledge; it’s an absolute fact that this tweet doesn’t call for violence against this officer. His tweet made reference to prosecution and nothing else. Yet Fox News connected it to violence when there is absolutely none to be found. Lebron James simply has no history of violence and for this officer to be “next” there has to be a previous specific notable violent occurrence Mr. James was referring to. The only thing that fit the criterion of a “next” for the involved officer in the Ma’Khia Bryant case was the Derek Chauvin conviction. In the time surrounding the verdict, nothing notably violent happened to any individual officer to where anyone could say Lebron James is drawing a connection. Additionally, the word, “accountability,” means just that, accountability. In subsequent headlines about the story, Fox News left out the “accountability” part and kept emphasizing the phrase, “you’re next.” Talk about exploiting nuance; even when the nuance is accounted for, Fox News omits it and creates its own meaning.
So how did this type of headline make it through Fox News’ ranks and get published without anyone realizing absolutely nothing about Lebron James’ tweet or Lebron James himself has anything to do with violence? Answer: The same way police prioritize crime-fighting in black neighborhoods, leading to the higher black crime statistics that justify them prioritizing enforcement there; America teaches Americans to subconsciously associate black skin with violence and criminality.
Americans don’t have to consciously draw the association between black people and violence because the crust of our country’s regard for black people rests upon a racist mantle. This is true with all racism and being American means the idle person not acting against racism is standing on a racist mental platform and therefore likely to at some point produce racist behavior, most without realizing it. It’s highly unlikely that Fox News’ staff consciously sought to add non-existent violence to Lebron James’ name; America did it for them. The headline received approval because this carless association is accepted in American culture and part of the axiomatic undercurrent that makes people do racist things and believe wholeheartedly that they are not racist. Thus far, no one has sought to undo this egregious association because Fox News’ audience and critics operate from the same racist platform America provides and thus, this headline, which makes a successful and prosperous model citizen with no history of violence, a possible insighter of violence. This is systemic, it’s wrong and it’s not just Fox News’ sin; it’s white America’s for not exercising their power to check this American tendency when it rears its ugly heads. This propensity is why we accept the murder of black men by police when there’s a weapon present and don’t care to explore if they were actually trying to use it. We don’t ask if guns were loaded or if they pointed it. In America being black means deadly intent. The axiomatic association between black men and violence Fox News demonstrated on Lebron James last week exists in all of us however, only white America can do something about it. We minorities can only complain via our 1st Amendment rights and the states are working tirelessly to diminish our ability to do that. Unchecked frivolous headlines like Fox News’ about Lebron James are a direct reflection of white America’s regard for black people. They have the will to mobilize against black men mentioning Hitler or to explore exactly which white people were responsible for slavery however, are eerily silent when Fox News links violent intent to a black American hero. Please look in the mirror, white America. Are you doing enough to undo your original sin?