Futility of “Colorblindness” and Chuck Todd: Decisions in Crafting the Meet the Press Program in Aftermath of Charleston, S.C., Murders Continued Long-Running Theme of U.S. White Hegemony–White Innocence and Humanity and Black Guilt and Non-Humanity

[Note: Persons, like Dylann Roof in a murder case discussed below, accused of a crime in the United States are presumed innocent until proven guilty.]

On June 21, 2015, Chuck Todd (White) of NBC’s news program, Meet the Press, discussed the aftermath of the murder of nine black people attending a bible study class at church. The alleged killer, Dylann Roof, also attended the bible study class with the victims before shooting and killing them. [Black victims of a White accused criminal] Following that coverage, Todd and apparently Meet the Press staffers, decided to show a clip of Black convicted criminals who had regretted using guns with their crimes. [Black criminals (feeling regret)] Such juxtaposition Todd justified in a June 21, 2015, explanation:

We decided against delaying the segment because we wanted to show multiple sides of what gun violence does in this country. We thought the issue of gun violence in our culture and society was an important conversation to continue–too important to put off for another week. The consequences of gun violence should not be hidden.

The murders which occurred in Charleston, South Carolina, are not at all related to the clip which Todd and his staff decided to show, something that Eugene Robinson stated after the clip concluded. There is a tie between the stories that I will allow–that there were victims of gun violence (Charleston, South Carolina) and the regret of those who used guns to commit crimes that led to the deaths of others (in the clip).

However, with Todd and Meet the Press deciding to juxtapose the stories, they introduced another point–the devaluation of Black lives and the maintenance of the humanity of White people, including criminals. Within this point is a further implied statement that people should not care about the Black victims because there are Black criminals who have killed (but regret it).**

Moreover, in the Meet the Press juxtaposition, there was no discussion of Dylann Roof and his criminal behavior or motivations or that White people also commit the crime of murder. With these discussions of White people ignored in the Meet the Press program, the tired paradigm of White innocence and humanity and Black guilt and non-humanity was continued, even in the midst of tragedy and the presence of Black humanity, Christian witness, kindness, and forgiveness in welcoming a White person they did not know into their Bible study. (The quotes below are from an article at ABC News.)
“I forgive you,” the daughter of victim Ethel Lance, 70, said through tears to Roof, who appeared at the bond hearing via video-conferencing from jail. “You took something very precious from me and I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul.”
Felicia Sanders, the mother of the slain Tywanza Sanders, 26, said, “We welcomed you Wednesday night in our bible study with open arms.” “Every fiber in my body hurts,” Sanders said. “And I’ll never be the same.”
Alana Simmons, granddaughter of victim Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, said, “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived and loved and their legacies will live and love. So hate won’t win and I just want to thank the court for making sure that hate doesn’t win.”
Bethane Middleton Brown, the sister of Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor said, “For me, I am a work in progress. And I acknowledge I am very angry. But one thing that she’s always joined in our family with is that she taught me that we are the families that love built. We have no room for hate so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul and I also thank god that I will be around when your judgment day comes with him. May God bless you.”
“I forgive you,” said Anthony Thompson, the husband of slain Myra Thompson, 59. “But we would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent, confess, give your life to the one who matters most: Christ. So that he can change it, can change your ways no matter what happened to you and you’ll be OK. Do that and you’ll be better off than what you are right now.”

Regardless of the Christian witness of the victims’ families at the hearing, Magistrate Judge James Gosnell (White) still played to the White humanity and Black inhumanity White hegemonic paradigm in stating to the (Black) victims’ families that they should also remember that Roof’s family (White) are also victims. One can argue that such a statement was not germane at a bond hearing, but, if the statement had to be made, Gosnell had to direct it to Dylann Roof (White).

Todd and the Meet the Press staff are rightly criticized for their editorial decisions, which were influenced by White hegemony. No mere explanations are sufficient; the frame of Whiteness was intricately involved in the decision-making process. Todd and his staff must come to terms with this reality and correct the wrongs they have committed in the name of “colorblindness.” [**The disclaimer that Todd offered in the introduction of the clip is insufficient and worse, silent, on the involvement of Whites.

The circumstances you are about to see are very different from the racist violence in Charleston. In this case, the inmates are African American that you’re going to hear from. But their lessons remain important. We simply ask you to look at this be a colorblind issue, as about just simply gun violence.”]

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