What the Nia Wilson tragedy tells us about the media and Black victims
By Ryan Velez
On the surface, the death of Nia Wilson seems like just a senseless tragedy, with the 18-year old being attacked by a man with a knife, leaving her dead and her sister injured. However, in the wake of her death and media presentation, a lot of questions are being asked about exactly whether innocent
Black victims are getting a fair shake, even after death.
As is to be expected, pictures of Wilson were all over the news and social media when her death became a national story, most being the expected images like selfies and group pictures with friends. However, one station, KTVU, shared an image of her holding what appeared to be a gun (it was a gun-shaped phone case), which instantly drew criticism for portraying her in a negative light seeing as there were many other pictures to use.
On the Monday after the photo was shown, July 23rd, anchor Frank Somerville posted a lengthy apology to his Facebook page.
“I wanted to take a moment and apologize for a picture that KTVU showed on the air for several seconds today about the young woman who was killed on a Bart train last night. On our noon newscast, we briefly showed a picture taken from social media of her holding what appears to be a gun next to her head. Please know that everyone here at KTVU is mortified by what happened. Nia was a beautiful young girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. From me, and all of us at KTVU, I can’t say enough how sorry we are,” he wrote.
For some, the apology was heartfelt, while others felt it was too little, too late, especially in the greater portrayal of African Americans in media. One study showed that there was a disproportionate number of negative images being portrayed of black parents, depicting them as poor, absentee fathers, reliant on welfare and criminal. Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, the organization behind the study, wrote that “There are dire consequences for Black people when these outlandish arche-types rule the day.”