Sunday, February 12, 2012

Every life is valuable, every loss a tragedy

When I logged on to read the news yesterday I had this awkward moment. It was one of anger, sadness and, regrettably, morbid contentment. The most prominent story was that of Kade'jah Davis, a 12-year-old Detroit girl senselessly killed over a week ago, allegedly by a teen who came to her house looking for a cell phone and fired shots through the front door after being told no one in the home had the device. Davis' death was a tragedy I cannot imagine having to live through. No parent should. I feel for everyone who's life she ever touched.

I also feel sorry for everyone mourning the loss of Renisha Landers, Demesha Hunt and the two women before them who were found murdered and stuffed into the trunks cars in Detroit a couple of months ago. I haven't heard anything about perpetrators in those murders.

Actually, I have heard little about their cases in over a month, except that three of the four were linked to websites where escorts were known to set up shop. At the same time, I haven't been to get away from coverage of the Jane Bashara murder, literally. I was in Florida a couple of weeks ago, and a story on her was the first thing I saw when I turned on the news there.

The story has not only remained in the headlines, it's been dominating. I have no less sympathy for the family of Jane Bashara, than I do for the family of Davis, Landers, Hunt, and the other two women found in cars. Or for that matter, the four people who were killed in Detroit over an eight hour span yesterday. But I am getting increasingly bothered in my old age by the seeming indifference with which the plight of poor and minority crime victims is being met.

It seems that unless you can link the murder of a black woman who lacks fame, fortune, or at least a prominent address to something salacious, like Internet escort sites, the odds are pretty slim that you'll hear much about it. That was a prominent part of the headlines in the stories national media carried, as if the fact that four women were found dead in the trunks of cars within a month of each other was not enough. I give them credit for picking up the story, albeit briefly. Investigators are still working the cases involving the four women,. I have to believe they would have better luck if people were talking about them every day.

Meanwhile, the frenzy surrounding the Bashara murder is really just beginning to heat up. It's a front page fixture locally. The national morning shows have been following the story, and Dateline and 20/20 have to be working on it as well. Once the news magazines picks it up Bashara will enter that elite circle of tabloid murder victims like a Susan Powell or Laci Peterson. It's not a coincidence that the members of the group are all white. And, again, these are tragic stories. But those lives are no more or less valuable than that of a little girl lost, or four young women inexplicably executed (-- all of whom happen to be black.

I am willing to bet that the Bashara murder gets more media coverage this year, more scrutiny by the police and the public, than the deaths of every black woman in the city of Detroit receives combined. Any takers?

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