This week, I watched an episode of Law and Order Special Victims Unit that really caught my attention. It was about an African American young man who had been following middle-aged women home, holding a gun to their backs while they were caught off guard opening their front doors, and then raping them in their hallways. As the episode continued on, a famous chef from a cooking show heard about the rape incidents and claimed she shot an African American boy in self-defense because she thought he was the neighborhood rapist. The police gave everyone a description of the rapist including his height and skin color. The man the woman ended up shooting turned out to be an innocent black teenager who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The media and the role that race and gender play in several aspects of it can be seen here in this specific situation. A young teenage boy was walking home from playing basketball with his friends. He had his head phones, could not hear what the woman was saying, and just because she heard on the news that the rapist was a tall African American young man, she shot an innocent teenage boy. It really affected me when the police were interviewing the victim’s parents and neighborhood priest. They told the SVU team that their child was a straight A student, one of the leaders of the church choir, and an all around good kid with a big heart. It is terrible that people have created these stereotypes that end up leading to a heart-breaking tragedy. Two parents lost their only child because of a woman who claimed she shot the young boy in self-defense. Later on in the episode, we find out that the chef had been known for her racism in prior situations especially in regards to how she treated the staff in her kitchen. At one point, she even said, “If we were in the South, I’d be considered a hero”. This episode made me sick to my stomach because as much as we don’t want to believe these things happen, they actually do and it’s almost impossible to imagine loosing a child or loved one because of people’s ignorance.
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