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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CWU chapter.

America is no stranger to acts of violence, it’s the sad product of loosely made gun laws, neglect in the mental health field, and sheer acts of hatred. In 2021 alone, there have been over twenty shootings across America, and not much is being said about the prevention of such acts. I will specifically be referencing the mass shooter, Robert Long for this topic. On March 16th, Robert Aaron Long killed eight women during a racially motivated shooting that took place at multiple massage parlors. 

During a routine briefing after the incident, sheriff Capt. Jay Baker publicly downplayed Long’s action by saying that he had “a bad day”. Having a “bad day” doesn’t give anyone the right nor does it ever justify any form of violence let alone a mass shooting. Capt. Jay Baker did something that a lot of people reporting to the media do, and that’s humanizing the monster. Media outlets continued to report his struggles with sex addiction, some outlets even included that he was trying to be a “better Christian”.

Why should any of that matter? 

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Markus Spiske / Unsplash

While watching this all take place, I couldn’t help but notice how differently African-American criminals are depicted in the media. Their mental wellbeing or personal backstories are rarely brought up. However, their criminal background is quickly pulled and plastered across the top of new channels. They are instantly labeled and stripped of humanity. I distinctly remember hearing media reports of murders happening in the urban areas of Chicago, and how people labeled them as thugs and killers. No one questioned their personal battles or fights, they simply didn’t care to. 

A well-known example is when Maurice Hill, the gunman in a multiple police officer killing, was being covered in the news. He was not shown the same mercy, as white killers typically are. No one looked into his childhood or personal battles, they instantly judged him and wanted him to pay the price of his crimes. 

I want to be clear, that I’m not siding with a criminal or saying that they shouldn’t be labeled, I’m just saying that it needs to be an even playing field for everyone. It’s unjust for one to be allowed to bring family upbringings and religious morals to the table, and for the other to simply be judged off the color of their skin and their past crimes. 

Professional and Creative Writing Major. IG: zaireeltayeb