On Thursday, July 18, 2013, I participated in a panel on HuffPost Live discussing the controversy around Rolling Stone magazine’s cover image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. I addressed how whiteness plays a role in the ways people have described the cover as showing someone who seems to be “normal”, an “average American kid”, “our next door neighbor“, a “rock star”, “good looking”, etc. I raised the point that in contrast, depictions of young black males do not get those descriptors associated with them in media narratives. For example, Trayvon Martin was also a normal, average American kid, good looking, and definitely Zimmerman’s neighbor, but Zimmerman’s defense was able to show the jury a picture of a shirtless Trayvon and persuade them to see a threatening male rather than a “neighbor.” I argued that the cover image controversy gives us an opportunity to have more complex conversations about how whiteness and white privilege influences the ways we perceive “normalcy” versus “criminal” in everyday life.
Here’s a short 2-minute synopsis of my main point:
Watch the full segment on HuffPost Live.