MEDIA’S DISGRACEFUL COVERAGE OF DARREN SEALS’ MURDER REVEALS UTTER DISDAIN FOR FERGUSON
by Justin Baragona
Story originally published by our friends over at The Contemptor
Shortly after St. Louis’ local media reported on the murder of Darren Seals, a prominent activist in Ferguson with a prolific Twitter history and well-known views and beliefs, the national media began covering the story. Throughout Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, large outlets started posting articles discussing Seals, his role in the St. Louis/Ferguson protest movement and the tragic way his life ended. And it was all disgraceful.
See, for those not overly familiar with the racial, political and social dynamics of the St. Louis Metro area, there is this belief that the activism for social and racial justice that exploded in the area after Michael Brown’s killing two years ago was directly tied to Black Lives Matter. And this is understandable, to a degree. Many figures from that movement who gained a national profile related to Ferguson were highly visible in the area during those first few months. Some were from the community; many were not.
But the fact is while there were activists who embraced BLM and other outside protesters, there were others who rejected the influx of outsiders. Seals was one who was concerned that out-of-town activists, specifically Black Lives Matter, would hijack what was going on in Ferguson for their own agendas. He was worried that there were people looking to personally profit from the massive media attention the area was receiving. (Something he was more right than wrong about, in my opinion.)
So, when articles started circulating nationally about his death, you’d at least hope they didn’t tie him to BLM, right? WRONG. Fusion immediately labeled him a Black Lives Matter member in their piece. Sarah Kendzior, a well-known political and cultural writer who hails from St. Louis, smacked the outlet on the nose for not doing a modicum of research on the man. As she noted, all one has to do is read a bit of his Twitter feed to see where he stood on BLM. (Fusion would later edit the article.)
Another issue that arose was the fact that many outlets initially got his name wrong. From spelling Darren with one R or giving him the last name ‘Sands,’ publications like The Hill, Buzzfeed and The New York Times offered up one of the most disrespectful things you can do to someone when they die. This would also lead to embarrassing situations for those who should know better, like Jamil Smith of MTV News.
Outside of being unaware of Seals’ actual views or what his name was, there was also the just downright laziness behind getting quotes from DeRay McKesson regarding his thoughts on Seals. Umm, once again, just a little bit of research would have revealed that Darren disliked DeRay. He looked at him as an opportunist trying to gain notoriety from Ferguson.
But places like the Washington Post used quotes from McKesson because they figured DeRay is who we think of when it comes to BLM, thus he and Seals must have been partners, friends, and compatriots. And since DeRay has hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers and he’s always on TV, best to get his opinion. In a morbidly ironic way, this pretty much proved Seals’ point regarding protest fame.
Darren Seals was a complex and fascinating individual. He deserved to be treated as such by the national media. Instead, they just saw the words ‘Ferguson’ and ‘protester’ and treated the story like any other piece of clickbait when it comes to this area. Ferguson is just the right kind of buzzword to bring out the racist trolls to fight with the overly-sensitive suburban-living SJWs in the comments section, sharing and liking to their hearts’ content. Therefore, who cares if we get the facts right or not? It is all about the perception anyway. And the clicks.
And this is why, two years later, despite full-scale coverage of protests by cable, print and international news, documentaries, think pieces out the ass and consistent referencing of Ferguson everywhere, there is still little to no understanding of the actual community. Nobody on a national stage really dives deep because the narrative was set a long time ago. Ferguson is just a colloquialism now.
Image via Twitter/@bassem_masri
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