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Smartphone bystander videos, like the one Darnella Frazier shot a year ago about the killing of George Floyd, provide powerful documentation of racist practices or police brutality. Phones and social media also help people tell their own stories and help draw more attention to the abuse of black Americans.
But Allissa V. Richardson, a professor of journalism and communications at the University of Southern California, says that’s enough.
Dr Richardson said videos like those of Floyd and Eric Garner’s deaths in 2014 are important legal and historical records, but those videos can re-enact over and over again victims, family members and victims. their testimony of their worst moments. And they can make it seem like black Americans need to provide evidence of racist violence in order to be believed.
“We in public don’t need these videos anymore,” said Dr Richardson. “They belong in the realm of the family and the jury.”
Technology gives people the tools to testify, hold accountable, and better understand our world. Dr. Richardson is asking us to balance those benefits with the cost of what happens to the people involved after the recording is over. Chatting with her opened my mind, and I hope her comments help you as well.
Dr Richardson, who wrote the book “Bringing Witnesses While Black”, puts current-age videos of police violence in historical context. She said there is a long record of black Americans being forced to raise awareness of racist violence, including Ida B. Wells’ account of separations, Mamie Till Mobley’s insistence show the public her son’s mutilated body and the beatings of civil rights marchers in Selma, Ala., in 1965.
In the past, however, Dr. Richardson said that black Americans can sometimes choose for themselves how to tell their story publicly. That control is now more elusive. Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, wrote about how he watched his brother die thousands of times in the last year. Frazier and Ramsey Orta, who videoed Garner’s death, talked about the damage the experience took on them.
And Dr Richardson said that photos or videos of violent attacks against mostly white Americans, including the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, are often not replayed on loops. endless. She also said that videos of police violence against black Americans create a ruthless feedback loop in which future victims are expected to provide visual material about violence against black Americans. surname.
“How many times do people need to see the same thing repeated?” Dr. Richardson said.
We cannot ignore the benefits of technology that allows people to express their views to the world. But we also can’t ignore the dire consequences when life – especially our darkest moments – is made public.
Jeffrey Middleton, a judge in Michigan, recently gained attention for lamenting that no one asks defendants or crime victims if they want to participate in court proceedings that have been streamed publicly. “Some of these have become shameful, perhaps humiliating,” Judge Middleton said last month.
I asked Dr. Richardson what we should do to reduce the harmful effects of violent videos. She wrote that news organizations shouldn’t show videos of people’s deaths without family permission, and that they should be more vigilant about how often they display images of racist violence.
To the public, she suggested reconsidering viewing or sharing videos of violence against black Americans. It may be more effective to take actions such as pushing the police to reform the law or support political candidates whose policies you agree with.
“We should honor those who have the courage and presence of mind to capture them,” Dr. Richardson told me of the outside video. “We should question the system that requires them to record them in the first place.”
Before we go…
Rural-urban digital divide: Politicians focus a lot on increasing internet access in unconnected rural areas. But my colleague Eduardo Porter writes that with limited taxpayer dollars, making internet service more affordable and relevant in highly wired urban areas can be very profitable. than.
Why can’t we get over our long digital history? Internet evangelists once predicted that being online would make people more empathetic and forgiving of each other’s past mistakes. My colleague Kashmir Hill explores why the opposite happened.
Here’s why your Uber might be more expensive: That’s economics 101. There’s more demand from riders than supply from drivers, and Uber and Lyft are paying drivers more and passing that cost on to you, my colleague Kate Conger said. (The imbalance of supply and demand is why so many things, including lumber and rental cars, are more expensive right now.)
Why do moose cross the road? (You know how this joke ends.) Check out this amazing article with video clips of deer, HUGE crocodiles, coyotes, and badgers using the tunnels and flyovers created to Animals cross the main roads safely.
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