MEDIA COVERAGE OF YOUNG BLACK MUSLIMS IN CRIME
On the other hand, the role of the media in identifying the victim largely goes beyond superficial analysis of an offender to the deeper problem in their society. 1 This paper will use a Foulcatian approach to survey the media and how it may enhance bias against minorities-especially Black Muslim youth- in its dissemination of information. Hilliard, Panties, Tombs, and Gordon acknowledges that across most new and entertainment formats, the media is more interested in serious crime, focusing on the victimization of individuals, often with the violent accompanying images that capture the audience into empathy. 2 As he continues to argue, such serious violent crime takes precedence to property offenses, white collar crime and other corporate offenses that in fact put a larger burden on society.
In the same search for capturing material, the media is oft seen highlighting crimes committed by strangers in society, rather than the old gruesome scenes of family and marital conflict. The issue of social mobility among black Muslim communities thus is important to this discussion, as it seems like the underlying factor in crime and media coverage of crime in London and generally the UK. Media The media is based upon producing content that is attractive to the audience, and bases this on news values, that is, the criteria that determine if an event is newsworthy and what priority it will be offered in the news releases. Common examples include violence, sex, drama, immediacy, and celebrities. Violence is especially sweet fodder for news, as it represents the violation of basic rights against the person, state or even property.
6 Any form of crime can reach quick newsworthy status when an accompanying act of violence can be identified. Televisions, newspapers, magazines and even social media news features increasing visual phenomena which is great for sending large amounts of information through graphs, maps and cartoons. Crime news today has turned visual, showing people in one picture what could only be described in a thousand words. Universally, everybody wants to see what the crime committed was and who the victim and perpetrators are. Even police investigation bases its reports on footage, often from first responders, security cameras or the media. 9 Violence is easy to represent in visual form, increasing newsworthiness. Except high profile murders and child victims, the rest of the minorities hardly generate empathy in news.
For black people, especially on guns, there is often the blatant accusation that young black men are their own hazards, as they like owning guns which eventually kill them, unlike their white counterparts. Everyday victimization of black people hardly makes it to the news, as it is not conversant to social debates. 12 For a long time, black youths have been demonized in the media as a criminal group that can only harbor pimps, gangs or drug dealers. This enforced view by the media has come to resonate with the society’s thinking, establishing the norms of the black young male. The census also indicated a decrease in segregation that is the result of Muslim families moving away from comfort zones with many Muslims to other local authorities.
Muslims of Asian descent form about 68% of total Muslims, followed by 10% of black origin, 8% from white ethnic groups and 6% Arab. 15 Social Mobility The social mobility commission reported in 2016 that upward social mobility is getting worse, especially for the young people. Those who are from low social economic class are unlikely to obtain quality education, take A-levels and join top universities. Most of them are more likely to drop-out before 16, indicating why the number of unemployed young people has barely dropped. They are engrossed in a lifestyle that is difficult to get out of, even when they want to do meaningful work in their lives. 19 Schools and solidarity There have been efforts, since the 2001 riots, to enhance integration, especially in regard to state schools within segregated communities.
This it was argued would overcome the problems with social-economic marginalization and civil unrest, mostly associated with young Muslim men who signified alienation, educational underachievement and gang activity. Group activity, especially among the young men is regarded suspiciously, often in association with gang activity and hyper-masculinity. The general assumption is that solidarity and friendships among ethnic minority youths leads to extremism and often social unrest. The media and journalists are quick to engage in speculation when they spot a group of young Muslim boys walking together, which inculcates a sense of rejection in a society which is majorly white. 23 Being the only people who can understand and relate to the prejudice and racism, young black males are often found together, which in turn increase the likelihood for peer pressure to commit offences against the oppressing white majority.
The media and the society at large therefore shapes a huge percentage of the lives of these young men, mostly unintentionally. Treating groups as the problem, rather than why these youths tend to come together should be a critical starting point for reform in education and general social support structures for young Black Muslim youths. 24 Discussion Media coverage of Black Muslim youth in crime is largely informed by society’s depiction of the Muslim community. As indicated, stereotypes on violence, drug use, gang associations together with pictures of perpetrators are great for news. News such as this is appealing to audiences, and is rather easy to collect and edit. When it is a piece on street violence, gun crimes and others relating to young black Muslims, such images reflect the blackness of the individual, while maintaining a tag on their religion as if in confirmation of what is already known.
27 Due to the visual and linguistic ease of delivering such news, the news is sought, edited and delivered thoroughly. Although this is not an inherent problem- news is supposed to be well researched and framed- the rigor and effort in stories asserting to young black Muslim violence is misleading compared to other shoddy pieces in news. Response has been to fund intervention strategies that focus on those at risk of antisocial activity and gang behavior, together with increased policing. Increased policing however, only works to scare more black Muslims, rather than assuaging them to deter from gang activity. Where interventions are put through and successfully establish community centers to reduce risk of gang activity, these community centers conversely represent evidence of gangs to the media and society in general.
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