The recent Las Vegas shooting has spurred massive debate about a variety of topics. Debate about gun control. debate about mental illnesses, and debate also about media coverage surrounding the shooter, 64 year old Stephen Paddock. In the last 5 days we have seen media coverage flooding with new information regarding the mass shooter, however there has been something extremely unsettling about how this media is portrayed.
June 12th, 2016, Omar Mateen violently killed several in what was then deemed the worse mass shooting in history at the Pulse Night Club. 24 hours following that event, media outlets once again flooded with information regarding the shooter. Words such as "macho", "angry", "always agitated" were some of the adjectives being used to describe this killer. Now, this is warranted. It is certainly justified to label a person with such an extensive lack of empathy and emotion.
However, looking closely, we see these words are not blind. In fact, the only time extremely polarizing and negative words are used to describe a mass shooter is when they are of color. The list of mass shooting incited by people of color is a relatively short one. However, the abundance of these adjectives demonizing and antagonizing these killers are so very disproportionate to that of white killers.
Take Stephen Paddock for example. The last media cycle has labeled Paddock with phrases such as "his motive", "his life", "what went wrong". As you can see, this starkly contrasts the words used to label Mateen. When taking a white mass shooter, and a non-white mass shooter, it is abundantly clear. Both are killers. But only one is portrayed that way.
The media has an over-infatuation with the humanization of white killers. What was his motive? Was there an imbalance within his brain? This attitude feeds into the entirety of what white privilege can extend to. If you are white, your privilege follows you everywhere. And it is clear that no shooting, no murder and no rape can strip you of this said privilege.
The next time a mass shooting occurs, take into account the race of the individual inciting violence, because it does matter. The fact that the pigment of your skin can illustrate a differing narrative that that of someone who committed the exact same crime speaks volumes to how xenophobic and racist attitudes in this country is so heavily embraced by the media.
However, the media is not a sole entity. It operates based on the wants of its viewers. If you ever wish to see a firsthand glance of how institutional racism operats under the frameworks of our news outlets, simply flip on your television and tune into your best trusted 'news' source.