A conservative radio show host used the story of Black teenage girls viciously assaulting another girl at a Brooklyn McDonald’s as an opportunity to direct a stunningly inaccurate and racist diatribe against the entire Black race.
During a recent segment on his show, Texas-based host Michael Berry attempted to draw a comparison between the behavior of Black people and white people while attacking the girls involved in the McDonald’s beating.
“We have people living in our country who are savages. Absolutely, positively savages, to engage in this kind of behavior,” Berry said, making it clear he’s talking about Black people. “The whole McDonald’s is full, they’re loving it.”
Berry’s comments came as the girls who were allegedly involved in the beating and apparent robbery surrendered to authorities one-by-one over the weekend. New York police said yesterday only one of the six teenage girls who took part in the attack is still at large. The beating has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times after being posted to YouTube.
One of the girls, who is just 14, was removed from an airplane at an international terminal at Atlanta’s airport, reportedly on a plane bound for her native Jamaica. Bail for the purported leader of the attack, Aniah Ferguson, 16, who was arrested on Thursday on charges of robbery and assault in the second degree, was set at $500,000, according to local media.
With the regularity of a clock, you can predict that some white conservative will use the occasion of a Black person committing a crime against another Black person to loudly cry about Black-on-Black crime. They reach for it with obvious glee, claiming that it’s a more serious matter in America than crimes committed against Black people by white racists or white police officers targeting young Black males. This is a favorite tactic of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani,
When he engaged in a debate on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in November with scholar Michael Eric Dyson, Guiliani said Black people should be more concerned with the way Blacks are “killed by other Blacks.”
“I would like to see the attention paid to that, that you are paying to this,” the former mayor quipped.
But Dyson quickly explained that the comparison was null and void.
“First of all, most Black people who commit crimes against other Black people go to jail,” Dyson said. “Number two, they are not sworn by the police department as an agent of the state to uphold the law. So in both cases, that’s a false equivalency that the mayor has drawn, which has exacerbated tensions that are deeply embedded in American culture.”
Berry said during his radio show last week that white people “don’t need to say white lives matter because white people don’t walk up to white people, put a gun to their head and blow them away,” he said. “White people don’t drive past the home of other white people and shoot into the window, knowing there are children inside. White people don’t walk into McDonald’s and 4, 5, 6, 10 of them and beat the snot out of them for minutes on end while everyone cheers and films it, World Star. You know why white lives matter? Because that’s what white people believe. The dirty little secret is Black people don’t believe that Black lives matter.”
It was an astoundingly ignorant statement that was not only profoundly offensive but that also conveniently ignored recent events in America, as well as the nation’s violent history. Just in the past decade, there has been an exhaustingly long list of instances of white people stepping into elementary schools and movie theaters and blasting away at other white people, including small children, with guns.
Any attempt by a white person to assign violent tendencies to Black people while they are living in the most violent country in the world, one where white people have established centuries of mind-numbing violence committed against non-white peoples—in addition to each other—is ridiculously off-base and ignorant.
Moreover, it gets at the particularly pernicious tendency of white racists to ascribe the bad acts of a few to an entire race. If he was interested in using a similar logic applied to another big news story of the week, he might have concluded that every white male college student was a raving racist because of the actions of the Oklahoma fraternity.
But Berry knows the narrative of the savage Black criminal is so embedded into white American minds that when such ugliness spills out of his mouth, he will get knowing nods, rather than outrage, from his listeners.
“We can’t deny the influence that this subculture is having on our society. You can go and hide behind your gates. Y’all can hire a guard at night,” he continued. “But eventually, a Trayvon Martin’s going to come walking through your yard, at night, on suspension from school. Because his dad has a good job, and he lives there. And he lives in a world of thuggery, and his dad doesn’t. That’s actually — that was the case there. But he was a thug, who went to school with other thugs.”
Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network announced that its youth group, Youth Huddle, run by Sharpton’s daughter Dominique Sharpton, will hold a vigil on Monday night to offer prayers for the 15-year-old teen, Ariana Taylor, who was beaten in the McDonald’s and hospitalized for nonlife-threatening injuries. NAN’s leadership said some of the students involved in the fight are from a Brooklyn high school, Erasmus High.
While many critics will point angry fingers at the teenage girls, just a five-minute trip through reality TV shows like “Basketball Wives” and “Love & Hip Hop” will show grown women engaged in brawls nearly as bad as the one in McDonald’s. The only thing stopping the TV fights from going on longer is that the producers have security jump in and stop them—after enough blows are delivered to provide entertainment to viewers.
And before reality TV, let’s not forget the national craze that was the “Jerry Springer Show,” which for years displayed daily violence that mostly featured girls fighting each other.
It’s not hard to see where these girls get their cues about how they are supposed to behave—from the adults all around them.