When It Comes to Crime, Black and Hispanic Victims Are Treated as Mere Numbers

Most of the time, the media are more than happy to play up stories of minority victimhood.


An axiom often attributed to Stalin says that a single death is a tragedy, but a million deaths are a statistic. The death of Morgan Harrington, an attractive young Virginia Tech student who disappeared after a 2009 Metallica concert in Charlottesville, is certainly a tragedy. Her body was found three months later; her killer remains at large. Recently, Metallica put together a public-service announcement to help the State Police and the FBI find the man who murdered her.

The death of Yeardley Love, a UVa student killed in 2010 by her ex-boyfriend, George Huguely V, is tragic as well. And even for those who never knew them, the senseless, savage murder of Richmond's Harvey family in 2006 is still horrific to contemplate. In 2006 Ricky Javon Gray and Ray Dandridge tied up Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their daughters, nine-year-old Stella and four-year-old Ruby, slashed their throats, and beat them with a hammer before setting their house on fire and running off.

Most people in Central Virginia have at least a passing familiarity with the Harveys' case. A plaque at Forest Hill Park honors their memory, a bridge there was named after them, and the Carytown Merchants Association created a memorial fund in their honor. The Harrington case still generates interest. People across the country also know about Love – from stories in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, from CNN and Sports Illustrated, from ABC News and USA Today, and many other sources besides.

Not many have heard about Amilkar Figeroa. The 26-year-old was shot and killed in South Richmond in 2009. A year later – the last time it got any coverage – the case remained unsolved. Ditto for Levon Alford andJomond Lightfoot, two other open-case homicide victims in Richmond. And Ashraf Alatiyat, who was killed during a robbery at the Come and Go Food Market he owned on Jeff Davis Highway. During the past five years Richmond alone has racked up 31 unsolved homicides of black men and women. When was the last time you saw one of them on TV?

We hear a lot about the disparate treatment of minorities in the criminal-justice system. Young blacks are arrested for drug crimes 10 times more often than whites, even though five times more whites than blacks use drugs. But there is also widely disparate treatment of minorities in non-judicial realm as well.

Remember Laci Peterson, who disappeared on Christmas Eve, 2002? Her case received saturation coverage in the U.S., and widespread coverage elsewhere. You could follow it in the Taipei Times if you cared to. By contrast, Evelyn Hernandez – like Peterson, very pregnant at the time of her disappearance – went missing seven months before Peterson did. Her torso was later found in the San Francisco Bay. The case got a few mentions here and there, but was largely ignored.

This is not a new or original insight. There is even a name for the phenomenon: Missing White Woman Syndrome (MWWS). The Miami Herald's Leonard Pitts wrote about it last year, citing such famous cases as Elizabeth Smart, JonBenet Ramsey, Chandra Levy, and Natalee Holloway. So – in a broader sense – did Keith Alexander, a court reporter for The Washington Post.

Last summer a jury acquitted Casey Anthony of murdering her daughter, Caylee, in 2008. You remember. Her trial received seemingly nonstop attention across the nation. But as Alexander points out, just about nobody has ever heard of Aja Fogle, N'Kiah Fogle, Tatianna Jacks, or Brittany Jacks. Like Caylee Anthony, those girls – ages 5, 6, 11, and 16 – were murdered in 2008. Their mother was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 120 years in prison.

According to Pitts, the number of men and boys who disappear each year is in the six figures. None of them, ever, gets the sort of attention pretty young white women do.

You could chalk this up to evolutionary psychology. From a DNA-propagation standpoint, young females are extremely valuable to the perpetuation of the species. (Males are more expendable: If you want to repopulate an island, it makes much more sense to have 10 women of childbearing age and one man than the other way around.) So humans probably have developed a protective instinct that manifests itself as a sort of tribal concern. (Hey, it's only a theory.) But that does not explain the racial dichotomy. Except, perhaps, that it might – if there is an unconscious assumption that white reproduction is more valuable than black reproduction.

And why do the media cater to this instinct, if it even exists? That seems curious in light of their general genuflection to the cause of political correctness.  Most of the time, the media are more than happy to play up stories of minority victimhood. Why deviate from that practice in this instance – where the unfair treatment of minorities seems so patently beyond dispute? You could blame consumer demand, except that the press often delights in "eat-your-broccoli" stories published in order to raise the conscience of the proletariat.

Whatever the reasons are, there is no excuse. Americans like to say we are all equal, we all have the same intrinsic moral worth. But priorities are revealed by actions, not by words. And by our actions, we indicate over and over that the death of one sort of person is a tragedy – while the death of somebody else is a statistic.

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  1. Where da white women at?

    1. Whole Foods?

        1. I wonder how those idiots would feel if they only knew that the environmental impact of a Prius, from construction through the estimated life of the unit, is considerably higher than that of a typical passenger car that gets 25 MPG with modern emissions controls?

          1. But sloopyinca, it makes them feel superior. And that is what matters.

            1. Is it true that the front seat of a Prius was designed to comfortably seat this man?

              1. Yes, yes it is.

            2. This applies: http://www.southparkstudios.co…..smug-alert

            3. Yen, indeed. And, after all, they have so very litytle to feel superior about…

          2. Just 4 years ago it was better to drive an H2 than a Prius when factoring in the construction and disposal with things like 15kg of rare earth magnets and a thousand pounds of Lithium Ion/Lithium Polymer batteries. People ignore that because they get 50mpg. If they didn’t have their heads so far up their asses and truly cared for the environment they would be driving TDI cars that get the same MPG and are easier to build than even regular gas cars.

            1. As more and more Priuses (Prii?) are built the comparison will break down. The burden from the manufacturing equipment etc is spread over the number of cars – as more cars are made that amount per car goes down. Also the recycling of the magnets and other exotic parts can reduce the ‘environmental footprint.’ I don’t know where the environmental break-even point is for a Prius vs a conventional mass-produced Civic.

              I’m no enviro, but one must look at the facts and judge them objectively.

              1. You sure? Seems to me if more Prii are built, more nickel will have to be mined and smelted, more rare earth elements will also have to be mined and processed, and even more toxic materials (batteries) will have to be disposed of at the end of their useful lives (how long is that in comarison to an internal combustion engine, BTW?).

                Scale may make them more profitable for Toyota to manufacture, but I’m not sure it makes them more energy efficient, in the Greenie sense.

                1. Hooray for Mazda, they see no need for hybrids, as the gasoline engine is the overall best performer. They focus on making a better gas engine and car. My next car will be a Mazda.

              2. The Prius gets a combined EPA 50 MPG. Comparably sized compacts without hybrid technology get about 33-34 MPG combined, per the EPA. (Yeah, these numbers aren’t real world numbers, but they seem to be in the ballpark).

                So, over the course of 100K miles of driving, the difference is about 1,000 gallons of gas (3,000 standard engine, 2,000 hybrid).

                Starting price of Prius — MSRP — $24,000.

                Starting price of Corolla — MSRP — $16,000.

                If you figure that the price of these cars is a rough measure of environmental degradation, at $4 gallon for gas, the Prius is way more expensive and environmentally degrading.

        2. Parking lot of Whole Foods.

          Needs more Subarus.

    2. Where da white women wimmins at?


      1. Let me just whip this out…

  2. They cater to it because it puts eyeballs in front of advertising jingles!

    The question is who watches the wall to wall coverage?

    Based on my observations, it appears to be mainly older, affluent women who have the time to devote to obsessively watching these shows.

    1. That would explain quite a bit. The ones they focus on are the ones who match their audience.

      1. “OMG! That could have been ME! Or my DAUGHTER! Or my SISTER!”

        *gets on pajamas, pops popcorn, sits riveted to sofa in front of TV*


    2. Exactly what I thought. Who watches all this crap? Middle class white women.

    3. …and who buy the shit that is advertised on them.

      White women in trailers also watch, I’m sure, but they’re not a key marketing demographic, for a lot of things.

  3. Let’s see if I can get this one in first.

  4. You know who else indicated over and over that the death of one sort of person is a tragedy ? while the death of somebody else is a statistic…

    1. Geraldo?

    2. Quincy M.E.?

    3. Lou Grant (the serious one)?

    4. Eric Cartman?

    5. Yeah well, how many battalions does the Pope have?

  5. Wasn’t Lacy Peterson Latina?

    1. White Hispanic.

      1. Where da white Hispanic women at?

    2. The point of the Peterson wall-to-wall was the Christian Right trying to get it to count as a double murder because she was pregnant.

      1. Yeah, because you aren’t an official human being until someone else says so.

  6. Luckily, the Law Enforcement Officials who investigate these tragic murders and disappearances are color blind, and treat every case, and indeed every victim, with the respect, dignity, and efficient investigatory rigor required of them.

    1. That was sarcasm, right?

  7. There are many factors that go into making something sensational besides race. I am not saying the premise of the article is entirely wrong, but it seems to be sensationalizing MWWS a bit.

    1. If only we could figure out a way to power our country with a machine that converts bullshit into electricity…..

      1. You’re obviously a white person who is in denial of your racism.

      2. It would still be subsidized and wind up losing money. To keep the evil KOCHPORASHUNZ out of it.

    2. Ahhh!!.. the stupid, it smells like ammonia, burning eyes, can’t see.

      You want me to feel bad about the lack of melanin in my skin? Fat chance.

    3. Unless you’re one of those people who thinks any kind of negative thought about a person who belongs to a “protected class” is a racist thought.

  8. Family Guy had a funny bit about the same thing. I’m not sure it’s just a race thing, either, as I don’t see a lot of coverage of missing white males. If a cute white female under the age of 30 disappears it gets noticed. Doesn’t seem to be the case for anyone else. If the white female child has a moderately attractive white mom with a respectable rack, then it’s plastered all over the news like the Second Coming.

    1. James Byrd’s mom has a respectable rack?

    2. And if she’s fuggly, regardless of race, nobody seems to care.

    3. The tits did it.
      Obviously, they’re always hiding behind bras and sweaters. I say they should be out in the open if they have noting to hide…

      1. I’ve been to a European beach. This is not as great an idea as you might think.

        1. Try being in medicine, Brett. At least at the beach, you can be sure most of those are allegedly healthy. Some of the more unhealthy ones…

          Quite frankly, I’m amazed doctors and nurses even have sex at all, particularly OB/GYN’s.

          1. Years ago I was buddies with an OB/GYN.
            His standard line to everyone was ” It really isnt as glamorous as you imagine.”

    4. like the Second Coming.

      Like you would know anything about that.

      1. Don’t transfer your angst to me Mr. One-And-Done.

    5. Family Guy actually had something funny on it?

  9. I’m less concerned with the MWWS stats compared to other races/sexes/identity group in the story than I am with the arrest rates of minorities vs whites for drug crimes.

    Is there a racism problem with America’s media? Perhaps.
    More importantly, though: Is there a racism problem inside America’s Police Departments and criminal Justice system? Absolutely.

    1. Maybe, but the real reason for the disparity is that if the system came down on whites in earnest, the way it does on minorities, the drug war would be over in a heartbeat. There is no way they are going to derail that gravy train.

      1. The reason for the disparity is that Americans, by and large, don’t want to question the brave men in blue, their betters in state legislatures and Congress and the judged that dispense harsher sentences on minorities as a rule.

        They may shake their head at an injustice against a black youth, but since that kid is much more likely to already have a criminal record, they look at him as deserving his fate more than a first-time offender that happens to be white. Problem is, they never look to see that the existing criminal record only exists because of the inherently racist system to begin with, from the stricter patrolling of minority areas to the refusal of public defenders to question laws, policies and implementation of both in a way that targets minorities.

        I may not have worded the above eloquently, but I hope you see my point.

        1. Couldn’t possibly be that minorities might commit more crimes. Or that minorities tend to have higher poverty rates and that impoverished people commit more crimes. Or that a lot of the comparisons of arrest and convictions rates deal with absolute numbers that don’t reflect that fact that there are more white people in the United States than blacks (although Hispanics will be the largest demographic group by 2025).

          No, it has to be that the same judges who are overwhelming on the racial-grievance-mongering left of the political spectrum are inherently, latently racist and genocidal against the black youth.

          God I hate the racial grievance shit.

    2. You’re just racist against blue people, aren’t you sloopy?

  10. I’m sure there are hundreds of white women that disappear or are murdered that we never hear about nationally.

      1. Meh. Though I do have a theory that the rotting, festering carcasses of the abducted fatties stashed in basements, sheds and bogs of the ole US of A are contribution to pollution and emissions.

        Where’s Jersey Patriot to investigate this possible (though highly improbable) source of (alleged) AGW?

    1. I’m sure there are hundreds of fat and/or ugly white women that disappear or are murdered that we never hear about nationally.


      1. Don’t forget missing white hookers. Nobody cares about them either.

        1. I care. That bitch better have my money!

  11. Relatively simple explanation.

    The murderers of blacks are usually black, and the media only wants to create a victim-centered morality play if the murderer was white.

    1. Business reason: Because cross-race murder is unusual, a man bites dog story.
    2. Political reason: Because leftists in the media want to amplify a white-murders-black story as much as possible to continue the whites-are-all-racists narrative.

    They wanted George Zimmerman to be white so badly that the NYT called him a “white hispanic”.

    Unfortunately “black murders black” is a dog bites man story, because it happens so often. If there weren’t so many gang killings, innocent black victims would get more attention. Also, the leftist media wants to limit the number of stories about black murderers because it hurts politicians who want to carry on a black victimhood narrative.

    Tribal politics damages everybody, not the least black victims of black criminals 99% of whom probably wouldn’t be criminals if the drug war and welfare were never started.

  12. Since most whites are murdered by whites, most blacks are murdered by blacks then putting lots of effort into finding people who murdered blacks would cause more blacks to be convicted and then the author would claim that it was racist since more blacks would be in jail.

  13. Of course the media is being poltically correct in not reporting black or Hispanic victims. If they did that, they would have to say who the criminal is. That would point out that the people, for the most part, killing blacks and Hispanics are other blacks and Hispanics. The white kids or women that get media attention are the ones where the media can point to a white criminal. Whites victimized by minorities get very little media coverage.

  14. Or how about the fact that black serial killers don’t get the publicity that white ones get. Is this racist, and if so is what kind of racism is it, pro white, pro black, anti white, anti black?


    1. Anti-Semitic.. Straight up.

  15. Actually I am not so certain that this has anywhere near as much to do with the Race of the victims as it does with their relative affluence. A more appropriate name would be the “Missing Middle/Upper Class Woman” syndrome and it really helps if she is good looking.

    I really think it is the fact that these are not “poor” women is the reason these stories become so large, for much the same reason someone above mentioned, it lets the largest audiences of the various news channels “Identify” with the victims and think “That could have been me/my child”

  16. Also, for RC Dean:

    A. Barton Hinkle Heimerschmidt
    His name is my name, too!
    Whenever we go out,
    people always shout,
    “There goes A. Barton Hinkle Heimerschmidt!”

    1. Took you long enough! Over fifty comments in, I am dissapoint in you comentariat.

  17. Who gives a fuck about the disappearance of Lacy Peterson?

    Where the fuck did Lecy Goranson go?

    1. Sarah Chalke had her killed.

  18. I wonder if the big networks have a guy dedicated to deciding which kidnapping/murders get coverage? If they do, it would seem that the vetting process boils down to one question:

    Would you put it in her butt?

    1. That’s disturbing when you consider some of these cases involve children.

      1. I don’t know…I still get-off to the details of the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping.

      2. ^^^ Didn’t think of the full implcations^^^

        Let me be clear… I meant either the victim or their hot mom.

        1. Ah damnit.. that didn’t help at all.. If the victim is a hot 20 something…

          ahh fuck it.

          Apparently I have a subconscious predilection for kidnapping victims.

          Save me STEVE SMITH!

  19. How much attention the media gives to certain cases is less relevant to me than how much attention law enforcement gives to particular cases. People will watch what they want to watch. So be it. However, if the police force is giving less attention to some cases than others because of race or gender, that is what needs to be the focus of concern.

  20. If it bleeds, it leads. And there’s a difference among media consumers between, “It could happen to you…and there’s a lot of you!” and “It could happen to you…but you’re probably an illegal anyway”.

  21. There’s only so many times you can do a story about a woman who is killed. If the news people did a story about the multitude of minority women who get killed, there wouldn’t be room for any other stories.

  22. It’s all about how that murdery stuff just ain’t supposed to happen to nice, rich, religious, respectable, non-fatty blondes in gated communities.

  23. I’m not sure it would be appropriate to blame America collectively for the poor representation of minorities in the media. I can see how this conclusion might come from the fact that ratings from consumers determine the media’s material, but big corporate media probably has the means to continue with “sexy” news rather than news that involves a minority victim. It’s the media, not the U.S. in general. Especially since the Trayvon Martin case, even the media is turning its attention to minorities, slowly but surely.

  24. “Last summer a jury acquitted Casey Anthony of murdering her daughter, Caylee, in 2008. You remember. Her trial received seemingly nonstop attention across the nation. But as Alexander points out, just about nobody has ever heard of Aja Fogle, N’Kiah Fogle, Tatianna Jacks, or Brittany Jacks. Like Caylee Anthony, those girls ? ages 5, 6, 11, and 16 ? were murdered in 2008. Their mother was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 120 years in prison.”

    Um if this case was more widely reported wouldn’t this very same author be complaining how it was racist that a black woman was convicted while a white woman wasn’t? Or how it was racist to publicize a black woman killing her children?

  25. Why does someone always have to emerge from a crack in the floor and make a big ole “Black Thang out of it!


  26. I’m thinking that it has to do with TV ratings. Do black folks watch 24hr news?

    It’s just like the weather. Old white people like to watch the weather, which is why the Weather Channel makes all the storms hit Florida.

  27. It’s bad enough that we get this kind of superficial analysis of race and the justice system from progressives, I’d expected better from Reason.

    1. Exactly what I was thinking. I like how every liberal claim was taken as a given. I was waiting for the cry for social justice.

      And what’s all this “we” business at the end? I am a participant in none of those complaints, yet I am supposed to feel shame because the perpetrators look like me?

  28. Not many have heard about Amilkar Figeroa. The 26-year-old was shot and killed in South Richmond in 2009. A year later ? the last time it got any coverage ? the case remained unsolved. Ditto for Levon Alford andJomond Lightfoot, two other open-case homicide victims in Richmond. And Ashraf Alatiyat, who was killed during a robbery at the Come and Go Food http://www.ceinturesfr.com/ceinture-lee-c-28.html Market he owned on Jeff Davis Highway. During the past five years Richmond alone has racked up 31 unsolved homicides of black men and women. When was the last time you saw one of them on TV?

  29. Why are honky hotties getting all the attention when bad things come-a-knocking? Because they’re the hottest. Sad but true. Actually, not sad at all…just true.

    Go to Asia. Look at the billboards and glittering lights. Who are the models? There’s an outsized proportion of pretty white people there.

    Who’s the hottest model to come out of Africa in twenty years? A statuesque etho-Dutch critter named Candice Swanepoel. How about actress? Charlize Theron. Reporter? Lara Logan. Hmmmm…me see a pattern here.

    When was the last time Jesse Jackson – or any man black or not – complained about the lack of diversity in Victoria’s Secret catalogs? Only black women do that.

    Come to think of it, many loud-mouthed Professionally Black Men – Henry Gates comes to mind – are African American Studies Professors by day but European American Studies Professors by night…hahaha. They’ve discovered the magic elixir of savoring honky cake while hating it too – and getting away with it. Yuck.

    Facts are facts, and people with eyes the color of emeralds and sapphires with hair color of the Sun and scarlet are the most striking, rarest people on earth. And the most beautiful women. They are – how do you say – the true minority, the ‘people of color’ in the monotone earth-shade gradient of humanity.

    And saying that in this day and age is what Michael Kinsley calls a ‘gaffe.’


  30. In addition the issues already raised in the comments, another obvious differences in the cases the author focuses on are that all of the ones involving minorities are unsolved. Unsolved murders don’t generally get a lot of coverage. 10,000 volunteers looking for a missing little girl while her young mother, the prime suspect in her disappearance, is spotted partying in clubs following the crime and is then promptly arrested with a televised trial is bound to attract more media attention than a case where there’s no suspect, no leads, no volunteers searching for a missing baby – just a dead kid and a couple of local yokel detectives banging on doors. The first case is sensational. The second case is not. The media focuses on sensational cases because they’re sensational. They get a lot of viewers because they’re sensational. I suspect the author’s rather limited case study here, citing not more than a handful of cases, is less indicative of a racial bias than it is of sensationalist pandering.

  31. The death of Yeardley Love, a UVa student killed in 2010 by her ex-boyfriend, George Huguely V, is tragic as well. And even for those who never knew them, the senseless, savage murder of Richmond’s Harvey family in 2006 is still horrific to contemplate. In 2006 Ricky Javon Gray and Ray Dandridge tied up Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their daughters, nine-year-old Stella and four-year-old Ruby, slashed their throats, and beat them with a hammer before setting their house on fire and running off.

  32. Reading this reminded me of Trenton Duckett. I live in Florida and for some reason we get a ton of these missing child and murder cases. I remember Trenton Duckett he was a couple years before the Casey Anthony Murder. The mother killed herself, and the boy is still missing. But it just seems like the media lost interest half way through and stopped reporting about it. I always thought it was probably because he was a boy and half Asian. And for some reason people grasp onto the missing white female child and not worry much about anyone else. It’s sad in my opinion.

  33. I always thought reason was an alternative “thinking person’s” type of magazine. I guess I was wrong. Ive never been to this site before. You’ve done a real piece of work here with this article. Let me just say I saw the editor on tv a few years ago being interviewed. He had on a black leather jacket, i think his name was giseppie or something. Anways I was impressed by him, and I remember thinking how sane and logical he came sounded and i made a mental note that reason.com was one of the “good guys” for people like me who think and question things. That was it, i never got around to reading an article until now. and this is what i read? Im supposed to feel sorry for blacks who are massacring the whites in this country all because it is the politically correct thing for me to do? FUCK YOU! i wont do it, asshole, EVER! Look you motherfucker you got it ass fucking backwards Let me clue you in on something you lowlife shit-eating pig fucker:

  34. Look at your fucking site, its a joke! All the comments on here are about honda prius’s because every meaningful comment got deleted by your mods because it fell on the wrong side of your ideological line (come on its obvious, even a third grader would figure out why the only comments to make it through your censors are not even on the fucking topic.) Theres a fucking genocide going on in this country against whites, and its being committed by blacks against them. Its obvious to anyone who doesnt read slapnut sites like reason.com that its A FUCKING GENOCIDE! And you’re asking me to feel sorry for them? The ones killing whites every single fucking day across this country? Why dont you pick up a newspaper once in a while you fucking half-ass? See who is really killing who! Who is really the poor pitiful victims in this country!! I guess I need to provide you with the real stats you might have missed, asshole. You need to be informed on what’s really going on you ignorant ass. I’ve read all the stats that paint the cold, hard truth you choose to blissfully ignore. You can’t wave your magic p.c. wand on me and make me see the world through your deluded eyes, I’ve got the facts on my side you punk and I don’t give a shit if you call me “racist” til your blue in the fucking face! But I guess all those FBI crime stats are racist? I guess the FBI is racist, right?Facts dont count and you can write me off as just a racist right? I forget, facts are for racists, right?

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