Media’s Lack of Coverage and General Society’s Lack of Compassion Regarding Serial Murders of Black Women- Updates With Photos and Videos
Media and Society Lack of Compassion Toward Black Female Victims of Serial Killers
Top: Tishana Culver Bottom: Tonia Carmichael, victims of serial killer Anthony Sowell
“This thing is serious business, until we know women are safe in this community, we will be out here every year,” – Activist Kathy Wray of the Imperial Women Coalition
This year will be the 10th anniversary of the Imperial House Murders(Anthony Sowell), the 25th anniversary of Henry Louis Wallace(Taco Bell Strangler), and the 40th anniversary of the Boston Murders.
This will be a year-long series on how mainstream media and society disregards the serial murders of Black women in America. Eleven years ago, I wrote a blog post, Crimes Against Black Women: Four Cases regarding the neglect of media and police coverage regarding murders of Black women by people of all races and ethnicities as well as the insensitivity of the general public. I going to discuss the Anthony Sowell murders, along with the Grim Reaper, and of course, Henry Louis Wallace(a.k.a. Bad Henry). There has been other serial murderers of Black women in the past and current centuries. Such as Gary Heidnik who murdered several Black women in the Philadelphia area. Benjamin Atkins in Detroit in 1991-1992 murders of 11 women. East Cleveland killer Michael Madison. Larry Bright killed eight Black women in the Peoria area back during 2004-2005. The Gary Indiana killer back in 2012. The still unsolved serial murder case in Rocky Mount, N.C. in 2009. Now, the unsolved murders of Black Chicago women from 2001 to current. But my focus will be on the five cases at hand. The police should have warned that a murderer in the community and to make sure community has an input in solving murders and to bring the perpetrators to justice. How the media should have had more sensitivity to those who are marginalized.
The invisible victims of Anthony Sowell:
The Grim Sleeper Documentary
Here are some of Chester Turner’s victims, pretty young women
There will be at least four parts to this subject. Because this is repeatedly ignored by the general public, society and media. Professor Cheryl L Neely of Oakland(MI) Community College discussed this lack of attention and police indifference in her debut book, You’re Dead, So What. She discussed at length how media, law enforcement, and the general public indifference to Black female victims of homicide. She give examples and comparison between the murder of Imette St. Guillen and Stepha Clark. How the media and the police treatment of such women are base upon socioeconomic class and race.
To this day, her murder is unsolved.
We all know that mainstream media often saturate missing and murdered women with stories about beautiful, middle class White and Latina female victims such as Chandra Levy, Mollie Tibbitts, Nixzmary Brown, Laci Peterson, Kate Steinle, etc. There’s a label for the aforementioned victims, coined as the “Missing Beautiful White Woman Syndrome.” They’re also considered victims deserving of sympathy, compassion, and empathy. Sure, the pedestalization of White American women help solidify the idea of young, beautiful White women as worthy of remembrance. They, along with lighter-skinned non black women of Color are the standard of beauty in America today. We Americans still refer to celebrity White women as American Sweethearts who captured the hearts of Americans and others worldwide. They’re considered as sweet, easy on the eyes, and personable. Also, non black women and girls get the assumption of innocence regardless of circumstances.
In contrast, society have very little compassion for Black women victims of crime, let alone serial killers. As a matter of fact, Black female victims are labeled in American society and media as being “loose”, “fast”, “crackheads”, “runaways”, drug users, “sluts”,”whores”, “thots”, mentally unstable, “baby-making machines”, and “welfare queens”. Likewise, the mainstream American media and the general public tendency to label Black females as “street women”, “Chickenheads”,”prostitutes”, “ghetto”,”junkies”, “ratchet” and so on. For a very long time, Black women academics long contended that the controlling images of Black women(Jezebel, Mammy, Sapphire, Welfare Queen, Crackheads, etc.) are employed to stigmatize an already marginalized group of women. The jezebelstereotype especially. That stereotype justified abuse of Black women by White and Black men since slavery.
Miss Brandi Henderson
In 2015, Professor Kimberle Crenshaw, the creator of intersectionalist feminism, started the hashtag #sayhername to bring awareness of violence against Black women in America and around the world.
The abuse of Black women rarely invoke outrage from the public. From unacknowledged rapes of Black women during slavery and Jim Crow, to police brutality such as the Sandra Bland case, to the discrediting of Anita Hill by Senate Judiciary Committee, to R. Kelly and his many victims. That attitude needs to change.
Speaking of the Madonna/whore ideology. From historic times, society in general always label women as either good, chaste women, wives, mothers, nuns or they’re loose women, prostitutes, and mistresses/courtesans. Renaissance artists reflected societal views of women through the Madonna paintings by famous artists Lippi, Botticelli, Raphael, etc., or nude paintings such as the Venus of Urbino by Titian.
In American society, the Madonna/whore ideology is strong, tinged with class and race components. White and other non black women, especially East Asian women are considered the “sacred Madonna” while Black, Native American, and certain Latinas, especially the Caribbean Latinas are labeled as “bad women” deserving of their fate. This view is far more widespread as the lack of coverage, the disparaging remarks in and out of cyberspace, and general indifference on the part of law enforcement to solve murders of Black women in America and Indigenous women in Canada.
The Madonna/whore mythology were used in how the public reacted to murders of Black women, the Heidnik, the Larry Bright, Gary Ridgeway, the Sowell case and the Henry Louis Wallace cases in particular.
For example, the Cleveland convenience store owner showed sympathy to Anthony Sowell, whom he said in the Unseen interview that “he took out the garbage”. That’s a blatantly hateful remark. He saw the victims, living and dead, of Anthony Sowell as being “worthless” and “undeserving” to him. He labelled the victims as worthless drug addicted and prostitutes.
Sowell himself justified the murders by labelling the women as being less than perfect.
Miss Betty Jean Baucom
Again using the Madonna/whore ideology in connection to the slow reaction on the part of Charlotte police in connection with the Henry Louis Wallace serial murder case, a concerned young woman named Angala Grooms in East Charlotte stated that the police did not care because they viewed the pretty young Black female murder victims of Henry Louis Wallace: “I feel like they wrote us all off as some fast little black girls who didn’t really matter.”
During the 1996 Wallace capital murder trial, the defense lawyers tried to taint the young womens’ reputation but the witnesses, friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, and the prosecutor vigorously countered the defense by bolstering the virtues and even saintliness of the young victims of Wallace. The jury didn’t buy the defense and voted for the death penalty for the nine first-degree murders and rapes of young Black women.
In the December 2014 issue of Vanity Fair article covering the Grim Sleeper and how law enforcement turned a blind eye to the serial murder of Black women, Franklin’s son Christopher describes meeting L.A.P.D. officers who asked if they could shake his hand, aware that he was the son of the Grim Sleeper. Broomfield was dumbstruck by the revelation. “Christopher told me his father had a lot of fans in law enforcement. Some police officers actually admired Lonnie for ‘cleaning up the streets.’ That seemed, to me, too incredible—that a serial killer could be a person who was respected within certain sections of law enforcement.” Unfortunately, those attitudes are widespread in society, seeing poor, Native American, Latina, and Black women as being of lesser value than other American women.
There’s a deeply troubling disparity in reporting the disappearance and homicides of female victims reflects racial inequality and institutionalized racism in the social structure. Oftentimes when reporting, there’s a considerable bias when it comes to Black American female murder victims. The reporters always want probe into the backgrounds of such women, their sexual histories, criminal records, the neighborhoods where they reside, their work/education backgrounds, history of drug/alcohol addictions, and whom their associations were as if they done something wrong to cause their demise.
They were rarely described in the media as being attractive, beautiful, smart, intelligent, serious, wonderful wives, good mothers, or pretty. Those descriptions are reserved for middle/upper class and/or famous non black victims. With precious few exceptions, there are very few media outlets cover Black female homicide/serial murder victims with sympathy and compassion.
The Cleveland victims of Anthony Sowell received coverage and even some compassion from local newspaper journalists. Writer Steve Miller wrote a compassionate book focusing on the victims and their lives in the book, Nobody’s Women: The Crimes and Victims of Anthony Sowell. They didn’t focus too much on the victims’ drug/alcohol addictions, criminal records, poor family lives, etc. Instead, they discuss about their lives before circumstances took them away. Even the Grim Sleeper victims are rehabilitated by author Christine Pilasek in her book, The Grim Sleeper: Lost Women of South L.A. Of course, the beautiful victims of Henry Louis Wallace. Although they didn’t get much coverage outside of Charlotte, they were written sympathetically as well.
Ten years ago, I wrote a blog post about violence against Black women. I wrote this in an attempt to get America and the world to acknowledge the violence done to Black women in America. So many people, lurkers, scholars, crime experts came to this website for knowledge and information. However, I will discuss the various serial murders of Black women in full detail and to bring more awareness to the public. Here’s the link to my old blog post:
This will be at least ten segments regarding media and societal disregard for Black women and girls who are victims of serial murder. They’re not in the media and the general society don’t care in the least about them unless they’re passing judgment regarding Black serial murder victims like the owner of a Cleveland convenience store featured in the 2016 documentary, Unseen.
Black women and girls were devalued both in life and death. That attitude needs to change.
In the year-long series, I will be discussing at length the Anthony Sowell murders and his victims, living and dead. How the city of Cleveland neglected impoverished Pleasant Hill neighborhood, the failings of the police, the residents, and business owners in detecting the murders and the smell of death along with it, the fallout of the Sowell case, and of course, the survivors of Sowell. Their voices matter as well.
In the second series, I’ll do a lengthy series on the victims of Henry Louis Wallace. Third, the Grim Sleeper, and finally the 1979 Boston murders and how feminists and Black groups organized to bring awareness of the murders of Black women in Boston.