When is concern based on a legitimate trigger and when is it based on a bias? Recently a man visiting Mexico saw a blond-haired, green-eyed little girl begging for money on the side of the road.
The guy was worried. After all, you don’t usually see green-eyed, blond kids peddling gum on a Mexico street corner. He posted a photo of her on Facebook saying that they need to spread it over the social mediasphere to find her parents. Eventually they did.
Turns out her parents are brown-eyed, brown-hair Mexican Native Americans. The girl’s mom was detained while the police sorted out the girl’s lineage. A DNA test was done. Birth certificates were checked. Yep, the girl was never kidnapped. She was just out of place begging for money. We don’t like our beggars to be white, just dark-skinned, beady eyes and dark-brown hair.
The story was about the girl’s ordeal but it also covered people who called those concerned “racist.” Kids are exploited every day. Why do we only care when there’s a white child involved? We’d like to think that the guy was concerned because the kid was so out of place.
But why did the kid seem out of place to him? Would she have stuck out as much had she been a stereotype Mexican girl? Would he have gone out on a mission to find out if she was kidnapped?
It’s incidents like this that shows us how racist people in general really are. How many “shares” do you think this photo would have got on Facebook if the girl was indigenous and turned out to have white parents? Madeleine McCann, Natalee Holloway, Jonbenet Ramsey- every time a blond girl disappears, the world stops to look for them. Minority children disappear all of the time. No one cares.
People want to blame the media. It’s the media that spreads the story. The AP puts a story out. Editors and news managers pick it up and the missing girl’s mug is all over the airwaves, the Internet and the papers.
Nope. WE’RE to blame. Why? Because we eat this shit up. Maybe it’s some kind of base, damsel-in-distress trigger that goes off in our brain when we see the cute child is missing. And we can’t get enough. We scour the Internet looking for updates. We tune into the Barbara Walters interviews with the parents. We wait for it on the late night news.
If they’re found, we rejoice. Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Lee Dugard. Again we watch the specials. We buy the books.
Yeah, it’s us. It’s not the media. They’re merely feeding the consumer what they want.
When the story came out on the Internet, like everyone else, I clicked on it and soaked it in. After reading the story, I scrolled down to the comments. The problem people had? The particular story I read did not have an accompanying photo and the commenters went on and on about not being able to see the girl’s face.
The comments illustrate the whole problem. There is a bigger issue with children of all races being kidnapped, exploited or mistreated. But when a reader clicks on a story about a photo, they’re outraged because there’s only a story and no photo. They’re not outraged by the story itself.
I’m not saying we should stop caring about blond girls gone missing. I’m not saying it’s not a tragedy when they’re kidnapped.
I’m saying their lives are not more important than a little Mexican girl. I’m saying that we, as a people, are racist whether we want to believe it or not.
What do we do about it? I don’t know. But maybe coming to the realization that we care more about some than others purely because of race will help.