Is it because she isn’t white?

Imagine, if you could even think of the horrific situation, where a 20 year old “pretty white woman” was abducted by six black men and women, raped, stabbed, made to eat rat droppings, drink from a toilet, threatened with death if she tried to escape and tortured for around a week. 

Imagine, not only what living hell that poor woman went through, but also the fact that she was still undergoing treatment for her injuries around a month later.  Imagine the 24 hour outrage on the cable news, the papers, every caring human being, not to mention the outrage by the racist people who would be decrying this, “the culture that promotes animals like this”, how this was a hate crime and the potential revenge for these horrific acts.

Imagine that the suspects all had prior arrests and records for prior crimes, including one who was arrested for murder of an 84 year old woman but pled to a lesser charge of manslaughter.  We would hear about this for months, and we would all know her name, the suspects names, backgrounds and every little development in her treatment, the case and the potential blowback to the community.

Now that you have finished imagining this hell that the poor woman was subjected to, ask yourself if you have ever heard the name “Megan Williams”.  I bet you haven’t.  I know I didn’t – at least before today when I got an email about this matter.

You see, Megan Williams is black.  And all of what you just imagined actually did happen to her a few short weeks ago, yet there has been so very little reported on this case.  No round the clock commentary on CNN.  No “panel of experts” talking about the degradation and breakdown of the justice system that allowed these six to even be in a position to kidnap, rape and torture Ms. Williams.  No calls for protests or help for Ms. Williams or her family in this time of need.  No “on the ground” reporters with live updates at the local jail, courthouse or even interviewing the locals.

No “special segments” advertised on any of the major news networks and programs.  At least none that I have seen.  But if you look at ABC News’ web site’s US News page, you will find a story about Natalie Holloway’s mother “still holding out hope”.  And the big poll on is whether Britney can get her life back.

I am white.  I couldn’t even begin to imagine the subtle racism or discrimination that occurs on a day to day basis.  I wouldn’t even try to put myself in a position to discuss experiences, dirty looks, out of line comments or anything else.  No matter how much I am against this and no matter how much I speak out against it, I probably can’t do it justice or appropriately capture the emotions, anger and frustration of those who experience this.

All that being said, I can speak and have spoken out quite a bit about the “missing pretty white woman” syndrome that has taken over the reporting arm of the US corporate media.  When was the last time that a missing “non-white” woman was reported as missing for more than a few minute segment?  What kind of coverage would a story like this get if Ms. Williams was a “pretty white woman”?  And whose family has lots of money?

Yet, once again, we have a stark contrast here.  Ms. Williams is not white.  And I have no idea as to whether she is pretty or wealthy, but neither of those mean anything.  What does matter is that she was kidnapped, brutally beaten, tortured and threatened with death by six white people in West Virginia.  And that these six people have long records, her life is scarred beyond repair and unspeakable acts were committed against her while she was imprisoned by thugs and criminals for a week.

What also matters is that this got very little ongoing coverage, and the volume that the media silence speaks when the victim isn’t white, young, pretty and wealthy.

Why else wouldn’t this story get the coverage it deserves?


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    • clammyc on October 2, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    in orange

  1. i caught mcmedia’s STILL carrying on about natalee holloway a few days back, in their chop-licking anticipation of the two-year anniversary of her disappearance. i wanted to mash my forehead into the nearest hard and immovable object.

    i read about williams’s story in the newspaper; apart from that, i’ve seen/heard pretty much zilch.

    i’m not sure that i can explain exactly why the differential attention exists… is it borne from a bias that resides within the media? do the media merely reflect our structural societal biases back at us?

    whatever the best and most accurate explanation is, though, has got to be an ugly one.

    i’m right with you on this. the sound of crickets where coverage on this ghastly, heartbreaking story should be is a dereliction.

    • Diane G on October 2, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Of course I know about her, bleed for her, rage for her.

    Yes, she has been written about on mlw at least, but it is fucking despicable the MSM doesn’t go nuts over this.

    Brit’s babb’s isn’t news.  Even KO wastes time on her.

    Utter Bullshit, I agree.

  2. When was the last time that a missing “non-white” woman was reported as missing for more than a few minute segment?

    I don’t discount what you say, but there are other very profound differences in the cases that are at least as important as the race and class of the victims.

    Unlike the Natalie Holloway or Chandra Levy stories, this one was never an Unsolved Mystery. Nor was it a “whodoneit?

    Megan Williams had already been found and the suspects arrested before the first reporter ever filed a story. 

    I guarantee you this:  if she were still missing, the story would absolutely get the same lurid night-after-night coverage that drives the cable news beast until the next big story comes along.

    And by the way, that’s not a good thing.

  3. That case where the little (black) girl got her arm broken by the school guard was way worse.  Why?  Because after news got out they arrested the girl not the guard.  And they arrested her mother when she tried to complain about it.  And the school kid who videoed the beating – suspended from school and arrested.  And then they fired the mother (she worked for the school district).  And then they arrested the sister of the guy with the cell phone camera.

    I’m going to take a guess they were all black.

    And remember the girl got beaten up for dropping some birthday cake.

    Which she had then picked up … but not to the standards of the big fat white cop.

    Your story’s got nothing on that.  My story’s 2 orders of magnitude more fucked up.

    • Diane G on October 3, 2007 at 3:33 am

    My email got rejected.  Email me at

  4. that the media of this ilk sorts through their feeds and looks for these cases. The sole purpose being to get people, the target audience, riled up and attentive. The news newpersons pour through the feeds looking for white girls.  The same principle as Cops or Lock Up, feeds the people targeted fears and baser instincts and they are in so enthralled with these dangers that always have and always do exist, that they feel they need constant protection of the nasty sort. Black people don’t count aren’t as effective when inducing paranoia because they don’t represent the white audience this crap is aimed at. 

    • Temmoku on October 3, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    I googled this and found out a lot…but the news isn’t carrying any of this. You are right…and why not? She is not pretty, blond and white, but some of her attackers are!!!! Can’t have those pictures on the screen!

  5. This story broke the week of September 9th.
    The reason you are just bringing it up down, the reason it slipped past your radar: she’s not a missing white girl.
    Yes, better late than never, but honestly, this  essay just emphasizes your point.  She was ignored b/c people of color are not valued in our society, including the blogosphere.

  6. You say you can’t?

    Why can’t you?

    Is it because the “sex slave” for years was white or what?

    The true story is horrendous.

    An earlier captive was killed when she wasn’t amenable to brainwashing and the fine pair kidnapped another.

    We all feel the same pain, have the same joys.  Is it good to divide people by their imaginary race?

    Doesn’t seem so to me.


    Best,  Terry

  7. When a story like this is covered…who covers it?


    Nancy Grace.

    The reason a story like this would be covered would be for the titilliation it provides to the American Public. The same way the torture at Guantamo and Abu Ghraib is covered…because there is SEX involved.

    Nobody cares about this person…they care about SEX.

    And frankly it shouldn’t be headline news. It’s an individual story and it’s covered as an individual story. These kinds of things go on everyday in America. If it’s covered as an aspect a representation of American’s fascisnation with torturing and torturing people all over the world for the last 40 years it will have significance.

    If it’s covered as an illustration of this nations move toward fascism…then it has meaning.

    Otherwise it’s just PORN.

    America like PORN.

    • jlongs on October 4, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    I found this place because of Robyn’s post over on Big Orange. 
    This story sickens me on many levels.  I heard about it when it happened, and you’d better believe the lack of coverage is all about race.  If this had been a white person in this situation, it would be on the news 24/7.  It’s sickening that people could treat other people that way, but the mostly blind eye turned by the media is also very sad. 

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