If you are a strong follower of interracial victims of lethal violence, you may be familiar with some of the top headline-getters of the past decade. People like Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Michael Brown – and more recently: Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd – have all become household names. Following these high-profile stories, you may be swayed to think that when there is interracial violence, black people are the exclusive victims; but if we are judging an entire society on anecdotes, we need to look at possibly the most horrific case of interracial violence this country has seen in decades.
Cannon Hinnant was a five-year old boy riding his bicycle when he was allegedly shot execution-style by his neighbor, Darius Sessoms, in North Carolina on Monday, August 9. This has to be up there with every parent’s worst nightmare, and why we tend to not allow our children to play in front of the house unsupervised, regardless of how safe a neighborhood in which we find ourselves. The pain being suffered by Cannon’s father is undoubtably immeasurable, and I send my full sympathies to him and the rest of Cannon’s family.
But you have likely not heard about this case, because Cannon committed the grave sin of being born with white skin, while his alleged murderer is Black. You see, this story doesn’t fit the narrative the media is trying to paint when it comes to race relations. There is no doubt that if the races were reversed in this situation, that Cannon Hinnant would be a household name alongside those mentioned at the beginning of this article. But he isn’t, and he never will be.
This story has gotten almost no national attention. The New York Times ignored it. So did the Washington Post, CBS, NBC, and ABC. If you read the story on Fox News, CNN, or USA Today, the races of both murderer and victim are not mentioned. Why? Well, I’d like to say that it’s because there’s no evidence of racism playing a part here. But we know that this is not the case. You know which cases also have absolutely no evidence of racism? Most of the names mentioned at the start. That’s right, despite all of those names having become synonymous with BLM, only Trayvon Martin had a hint of evidence suggesting racism being a part of it, and that only was the catalyst for George Zimmerman following him – not pulling the trigger. So despite there being no evidence of racism, each one of those names has become a posterchild for victims of racism.
But maybe there are other reasons for this not making national media. Perhaps these other cases all have something that Cannon Hinnant didn’t have. Let’s start with the fact that there isn’t any video of the murder. Videos have the tendency to bring about more sympathy, since the violence can be viewed. Well, Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, and Michael Brown all had no video evidence, and somehow got attention. Well maybe the fact that it wasn’t a police officer that was involved makes this a non-story. After all, one of the hallmarks of the BLM movement is that it’s fighting police brutality. Cannon’s killer wasn’t a cop. To that I answer: neither was Ahmaud Arbery. Neither was Trayvon Martin. You could even say that neither was Freddie Gray. Gray allegedly threw himself around the police vehicle and ended up causing his own death.
No; the only consistent factor amongst the names mentioned above that would exclude Cannon Hinnant is his skin color. The media can’t draw their preferred narrative from the story, so they don’t cover it. It does not become a national story. We are meant to not know it happened. The media isn’t new to not reporting on stories because it doesn’t fit a narrative. Back in 2018, The New York Times admitted to not covering the spike in anti-Semitic attacks in their own city because the attacks didn’t “conform to an easy narrative with a single ideological enemy.” The translation to this is that since the attacks weren’t being committed by white supremacists or neo-Nazis, they couldn’t pin that blame on an easy target, as they were able to do following the attacks in Poway or Pittsburgh. Unfortunately for me, but fortunate for The Times, as the Jerusalem Post reports, “The NYPD does not provide information on the ethnic backgrounds of alleged perpetrators in hate crime complaints,” so I can’t just cite a statistic showing who committed those crimes, but I bet if The Times was motivated, they have the resources to investigate.
Regardless of the history of ignoring stories that don’t fit a narrative, there is a second reason I know for a fact that Cannon’s death is being ignored by the media on the basis of race alone. And that is because of another should-have-been-high-profile case. In May of this year, Ryan Whitaker was playing video games loudly with his girlfriend. A domestic violence call was made by one of Whitaker’s neighbors. Upon answering the police knocking on his door, Whitaker, who was complying with orders while holding a gun, was shot dead by police. This was a case of police brutality. Whitaker was complying with police orders. There is even bodycam footage of the shooting. But there is no outrage. There is no national news coverage.
Now the media told us (and continues to tell us) to mourn Michael Brown, claiming he was never a threat to Officer Darren Wilson, even after the Obama DOJ cleared Wilson of any wrongdoing. For the same media to completely ignore the cases of Ryan Whitaker and Cannon Hinnant shows, at best, media malfeasance of the highest regard. When President Trump calls the media “the enemy of the people,” he is rightly chastised, but when the media plays moral arbiter of which stories are and aren’t important, based solely on their racial narrative, you start to believe that maybe the media isn’t as morally correct as it desperately hopes you believe it to be.
Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.