The tragic case of Jazmine Barnes has relit the fires of racial animosity thanks to the media and the investigating law enforcement on the case. Jazmine’s mother and other witnesses identified a white man as the culprit and the sheriff’s department immediately released the details and sketches. Professional outrage activist Shaun King wasted no time in crying racism and stirring up animosity under the guise of fighting race-based crime.
Days later it was discovered that Jazmine’s killer wasn’t white but a black man - perhaps two. In the chaos of the incident people had identified a man they saw speeding away (as any of us might do were we in proximity to random gunfire) and that became the narrative for the main suspect. We now know that was wrong.
On the progressive left, people like King have been backtracking or just outright ignoring it altogether. On the right, many have adopted a tone of “Told you so!” to scold the media and outrage activists for encouraging yet another false narrative. Everyone is doing a dance. Few are bothering to remember who started the music in the first place.
Her name is Jazmine Barnes.
She was 7-years-old. She was shot to death for no reason other than she was in a car on the way to the grocery store. I don’t know much about her life, but I am the mother of an 11-year-old girl. Jazmine’s smile reminds me of my own sweet girl and from what I know about raising little girls I can imagine that Jazmine was curious, sweet, and full of energy. She had her favorite shows and her favorite songs and probably her favorite YouTube stars. She probably enjoyed being with family and playing with friends. She probably made everyone around her feel hopeful for the future, as children do. She was a person. A living, breathing daughter with personality and light and flare. If she was anything like my own little girl she had a good amount of sass, just enough to make you admire her. In short, Jazmine was not a meme or a narrative. She was a real human being.
I’m tired of hearing about “this side does this” and “the other side always does that” as if there are points to be scored in this story. After the pictures of the suspects were released a perusal of the #JazmineBarnes hashtag revealed a plethora of “Gotcha”-type memes. I suppose some people thought it was funny to stick it to the likes of Shaun King. To me it looked tragically thoughtless.
It’s not just one side or the other. It’s everyone. All of us are the problem. Everyone in the media and the commentary class was quick to put on their tap shoes and dance on over to baby Jazmine’s grave. Don’t tell me Shaun King was just trying to find her killer when he put white people on blast right after the shooting. He was fundraising. He immediately took advantage of her death to spin a narrative and push an agenda. Black people are murdered horrifically by other black people every day in this country and those murders never get solved (for many sad reasons). We don’t see King putting those incidences out there and begging America to help find the killers. He can’t keep his current job if he can’t keep the fires of racial division stoked. It’s as simple as that.
King tried to walk back the audacity of his assumptions in an Instagram post but it only made him look even more foolish. He claimed there were many false tips and leads being called in and it just took a few days to sort out. It might have been better to simply wait for verified information before lighting up a race war, but again King can’t fundraise off of patience.
The reaction from many conservatives has been equally appalling. Some seem to think it is some type of victory that the perpetrators turned out to be black. I certainly don’t think we should ignore the part the mainstream media has played in this and how this is yet another confirmation of why no one trusts them anymore. However, some people might want to lay off the high-fives and snarky memes. Again, someone’s child is dead. Someone’s 7-year-old girl is dead.
If this all comes off as scolding you’ve read it right. I am scolding. I’m scolding all of us, myself included. Social media has so desensitized us to genuine interactions that it is too easy to see tragic stories about humanity as a chance to espouse talking points. We’re all complicit.
I’ve often said that at this point in our history we are simply incapable of having that “honest race conversation” we’re always being told we’re supposed to have. That’s because in order to have a legitimately honest conversation, all sides of the issue have to be willing to give up their right to be offended before they sit down at the table. Everyone has to give up their “buts”. Unfortunately our culture likes big “buts” - cue Sir Mix-A-lot here.
Yes, the mainstream media and people like Shaun King have grossly and unfairly twisted the narrative in this story to malign a group of people. Yes, it is wrong. Yes, it is possible to simply give up the “but” when discussing this tragedy and honor an innocent child.
Not an innocent child killed by a black man or a white man or THE MAN.
Jazmine Barnes was murdered. Full stop. End of sentence.
Take off your tap shoes and wrap yourself in mourning in solidarity with her community, your community and the people who love her. Save your dancing for the victories.
The loss of Jazmine Barnes is a loss for us all.