Today, the Associated Press broke the story of Renisha McBride’s killer, Theodore Wafter ,being found guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter. But just because you’re the first, doesn’t always mean you’re the best. Because this is what they tweeted:
In case you missed the glaring problems with this tweet, let me help you. First, at this point in the game Renisha McBride’s name is highly recognizable to most people who have been paying attention. Second, in high school English we learned about positive and negatively connotative words. Not definition, connotation. And there’s a lot of that in this here tweet. Theodore Wafer, the man who shot and killed Renisha for basically banging on his door is described with words like “suburban” and “homeowner.” Both of which are arguably positive in our society. The word associated with Renisha? “Drunk.” Alarmingly negative. Even the fact that the words “convicted” and “murder” belong to some third party who assigned them to this suburban homeowner. As if there was ever a question that he did indeed kill McBride. Wafer would have told you that himself.
It’s problematic and indicative of the way in which the media has historically, and apparently, continues to frame stories featuring Black and White subjects. When the Sandy Hook and Dark Knight shootings went down, the news media talked about how mentally disturbed these men were. That was the reason they behaved so unspeakably. But Chris Dorner, the man who was on a mission to attack the Los Angeles Police Department was described as a wild animal. How many times was the phrase “manhunt” used during that investigation?
Black people have been following this Renisha McBride story, hoping the justice system did the right thing. So when the AP sent this tweet, Black Twitter was all over it and quickly developed the hashtag #APHeadlines, lampooning the organization with more racially biased wording to prove a point. See what they had to say.