Recently I've noticed a new term
emerging in the UK news media
. "Black on black crime" is becoming an increasingly popular catchphrase
s. The definition of the term appears to be something like this:
A criminal offense committed by a member of the afro-carribean community where the victim is another member of the same community, especially violent crimes, such as murder and assault, and gun related crime, such as armed robbery.
A more precise definition would obviously not include the conditions of violent and gun related crime, but this w/u concerns "black on black crime" as a media phenomenon, not a social condition.
I have several problems with the growing media usage of this phrase. The first, while it may seem simplistic, stands true nevertheless:
We never hear about "white on white crime."
For that matter, we never hear about "woman on woman crime" or "working class on working class crime." There can be no doubt that white people perpetrate offenses against other white people, women commit criminal acts against other women and that working class criminals victimise other members of the working class.
Why, then, do we need a term such as "black on black crime?"
It's ammunition for racists.
Previous media buzzwords such as "influx of asylum seekers" and "radical Islamic group" have been used by groups with a far right agenda to help further their cause.
For example, the fascist British National Party recently distributed leaflets in my hometown of Glasgow, Scotland claiming that there had been a dramatic increase in the number of attacks perpetrated by people from ethnic minority groups against white people.
Irresponsible use of the phrase "black on black crime" could allow a group such as the British National Party, the National Front or Combat 18 (or in the United States, groups such as the Ku Klux Klan) to take advantage of a shift in public opinion and claim that "black on black crime" somehow demonstates a flaw in the black race.
It reduces the quality of news reporting
Catch phrases such as "black on black crime" are never a good thing in terms of the accuracy and clarity of the news media. For example, the blanket term "race riot" was applied to disturbances in the England towns of Oldham, Burnley and Bradford.
Despite the fact that each of the outbreaks of violence was sparked by unique situations in each of the towns, the media described each event as a "race riot." This obscured the information relating to each incident in the public consciousness. People lumped together the events of Bradford, Burnley and Oldham without considering the differences in circumstances between the incidents of civic unrest.
To conclude, people are impressionable. While some of us can cut through the big picture presented by the mainstream media, many others cannot. Those responsible for media outlets must carefully consider the effects of their catch phrases and buzz words on a suggestible public. If they do not, whether through ignorance or in the attempt to further the political agenda of those who control the media outlet in question, the effects will most assuredly be negative.