A few weeks ago Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg at a club. The next day there was a picture of him all over the world being led away in handcuffs like he kidnapped and harmed a small child. I remember when the mayor of my city first got elected and he and his right hand woman, Kimberly Williamson Butler, were going to rid the city of corruption by stopping people from getting break tags and taxi cab permits. They made a sweep and paraded those brothers and sisters into Central Lockup like members of Al Qaeda (This was before the big reversal when black people were upset with Ray Nagin and all the white people loved him). When Kwame Kilpatrick got caught up in
Last night out of curiosity I searched the name Bernard Madoff. I used a few different search engines, just to be sure. The picture at the top of this post is all I could find in relation to his crimes. He’s headed back to his apartment after court. He doesn’t appear to be the man that single handedly destroyed thousands of people’s lives. He actually looks pretty content with himself. I don’t see any police officers or handcuffs. Where are the pictures of him unshaven wearing an orange jumpsuit at his hearing? There’s no angry mob standing nearby shouting angry hateful things to him like they did Michael Vick. Here is a man that stole so much money entire organizations have had to shut down because they are broke. Some small cities lost their pension funds for teachers, police, and firemen. Hard working people lost their retirement. Yet, there is not one picture anywhere of him even looking like the criminal he is. I’m willing to bet that he won’t spend a day in jail; and if he does, there won’t be any footage of him in shackles getting on the bus to Riker’s
That’s how Americans get themselves played by people in power. If Bernard Madoff and I got on an elevator with an older white lady, she would probably move closer to his side since he's supposed to be less threatening. If she did I wouldn’t take it personal because I know where it comes from. People like me are shown on television all the time in handcuffs and mug shots for the wrongs they have done. Meanwhile, the guy she’s moving closer to could probably be squandering her life savings and her kid’s college fund and she has no worries at all about him. Frankly, the media is quite comfortable playing into this double standard because it helps the general public validate their incorrect stereotypes of a certain group of people.
By no means am I excusing anything Plaxico Burress, Kwame Kilpatrick, or anything else that a black man has done to end up on the news. I believe in self accountability and we as black men need to start making better decisions. However, the lives Madoff ruined makes anything a football player or a text messenging mayor did pale in comparison. The coverage of the crime should match the severity, no matter what the person looks like; and this guy deserves to be treated just as harshly as O.J. Simpson.