So…on the day that Ms. Leslie and Mr. Michael Sr. have to bury their son, the New York Times prints a profile of him that says that Michael Brown Jr. was “no angel”. (I’m not linking it. If you want to read it, you’ll have to go to the Times’ page yourself.)
According to the article, Mike Mike (as he was called by friends and family) had smoked some weed, drank alcohol, and listened to rap. And maybe shoplifted.
If the same were said about an 18-yr-old white boy, would the Times have used the words “no angel” to describe him?
Since when has being “no angel” been cause to be shot at least 6 times?
Why are young black people only worthy of sympathy if they have no blemish in their background?
Both the writer of the article and the Times’ Public Editor have said that the “no angel” word choice was a misguided one. But the damage is done. By using the words “no angel” in describing Mike Brown, the implication that African Americans must be perfect in order to receive compassion or empathy or sympathy is reinforced.
This is making my head, and heart, ache. I will stop here.