This morning’s news cycle has been dominated with images of two QLD teens that have been accused of flouting restrictions, failing to self-isolate and spreading the coronavirus.
Whilst their behaviour is irresponsible and very much endangers those around them, the racialised nature of the media reporting surrounding the teens’ behaviour is immediately obvious.
The two QLD teenagers in question are Black women. Their faces are plastered all over the news, and it’s taken no time at all for the broader Australian public to use their race as an excuse to vilify them and derail the Black Lives Matter movement – something that has been constantly unnecessarily linked to covid-cases.
With every racist comment in the book, including the classics “go back to where you came from”, “terrorist” and “deport them to Africa”, the public has wasted no time weaponising the girls’ race against them. Unfortunately, there seems to be a special brand of toxic vitriol used specifically against Black women.
I do wonder, where was this energy when a man from Melbourne drove up to NSW and sparked a second wave? This man was linked to several different establishments and thought to be responsible for a whole cluster of new cases, but he wasn’t doxxed. We don’t know his name or his face. I certainly don’t know his race.
Yes, it’s really bad. Yes, they lied on their forms. Yes, they will have to live with consequences. But please stop the vitriol. The attacks and language used on these young girls is disgusting.#Queensland #covid19australia #bullying
— Edward Carroll (@edwardian_times) July 29, 2020
What about the security guards in Victoria who slept with isolated, potentially infectious travellers they were guarding? These men sparked the public health crisis Victoria is currently experiencing. Were they identified? No.
Similarly, a fruitpicker from QLD travelled while infectious and has also not received the same bullying online. We don’t know his identity because it wasn’t reported on.
Just recently, a house party in an affluent part of Sydney was shutdown for having over 100 guests – and no one was identified there, either.
There hasn’t been identification by other wrong doers. Many of which are white and in East Sydney
— Matt Bradley (@MattBobBrad) July 30, 2020
There are dozens more examples of individuals flouting restrictions, travelling while infectious or throwing parties during COVID, and all their identities have been protected. In general, the media has not been reporting the identities of people who have tested positive with the coronavirus, for obvious reasons.
Reporting the identities of infected individuals is damaging to their reputation, invites unnecessary bullying and ridicule, and quite frankly can be humiliating and traumatic.
Disclosing of the identities of the two young women in #Queensland is disgraceful. They will be subject to threats, bullying, violence. @AnnastaciaMP failed to enforce #qldborder quarantine, too busy shaming States that have sheltered & cared for Qld returnees #covid19australia
— Tony ☘???☘ (@Tony83597606) July 29, 2020
Which begs the question, why have these teens been singled out in identification? What is it about them that sets them apart from other offenders? So far, all we know is that they are Black. And it seems that’s all we need to know.
Tabloids have already linked the teens with shop-lifting and other petty crimes, and now even mainstream news outlets are jumping on the bandwagon. Unsurprisingly, the Australian public has jumped on this chance to show their true racist colours.
With every comment section on Facebook about these articles filled with racist messages and attacks on the value of Black lives, it’s clear how much the race of these women is being sensationalised.
— dararoche (@dararoche1) July 30, 2020
Surely, these media outlets are aware of the reception they would receive on these articles? I don’t doubt for a second that they didn’t anticipate racist comments and attacks on these women, because even in the best of times we are inundated with that kind of vitriolic bullshit on the daily.
As someone who works in the media, it seems incredibly irresponsible to publish the names and faces of two Black teenage girls that are already in every headline and being vilified in every news comment section or racist Twitter-sphere online. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but this is a new low even for Aussie media.
I’ve been bagged out, vilified and shamed on the front page of the paper in the past.
Even as a grown woman with children and 3 jobs it was still terrifying and the blowback was immense and racialised.
— yumichild (@yumichild) July 30, 2020
— Racist abuse, death threats, shaming, doxxing.
I can’t imagine they are equipped to deal with this attention. I know I wasn’t, and at that time I’d worked in television for 12 years.
— yumichild (@yumichild) July 30, 2020
We’re in an extremely racially charged political sphere right now, where Black livelihood is finally making its way to the forefront of political news. Media publications deciding to report the names and faces of Black teenage girls to a public that’s out for blood unfortunately just goes to show that to some people (and institutions), Black lives still don’t matter.
Image Sources: Twitter.