I had a friend of mine ask me, “How is the race tension in the U.S. being reported on from the news outlets in Spain?” So I decided to do a blog post about the way I understand it.
I have been very intrigued by the way the Spanish news outlets are reporting race relations in the U.S. After reading some articles, I would have to say that they understand it pretty well. It’s often easier to understand complex, emotional issues when you are removed from a situation. For example, if a married couple is having an argument and each think they are right that’s when you need some unbiased, third party help. It’s hard to be objective, so I started to look into how Spain understands the U.S. race issue.
What I like about the Spanish news outlets is that they are using words like, “inequality”, “police brutality”, and “racism” as facts as to what is happening in America, not merely quoting someone else’s opinion. This might seem like a subtle detail, but it is very telling. Let me explain… as I have been reading popular news outlets from the U.S., what I am noticing is that whenever these news outlet use any of those words, it is typically in the form of a quote from another person or coming from the mouth of a “critic” not stated as a fact from the perspective of the news outlet itself. What I also like about the way it is being reported here is that they use statistics to back their thoughts. I think we can learn something from the way it is being reported in Spain the same way a broken marriage can benefit from a marriage counselor if they are humble to the input. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about, lets analyze some headlines!
Headline in Spain with respect to Freddie Gray:
“Baltimore portrays decades of inequality in America” (Translation)
Baltimore retrata décadas de desigualdad en Estados Unidos (original text)
Headline in the Unites States (on Baltimore incident):
“John Oliver Blasts Media Over ‘Racist’ Baltimore Coverage”
Do you see the difference? The Spanish headline just comes right out and calls it inequality. Although the U.S. example is actually reporting on racism, the report is coming from the words of someone else (John Oliver) not the writer himself. Lets look at another example:
Headline in Spain (On Texas incident):
“They suspended a police officer in Texas for acting violently against a teenager” (Translation)
“Suspenden a un policía en Texas por actuar con violencia contra una adolescente” (original text)
Headline in U.S.
“’The Daily Show’ skewers McKinney police use of force at Texas pool party”
Once again there is that same subtle difference. One article is calling it violence against a teenager outright. The other article talks about the violence, but it is from the opinion of another. When it is always someone else’s opinion, it casts a natural reason to be skeptical.
Headline from Spain (Charleston Massacre):
“Racism in the U.S. is more lethal than jihadists” (Translation)
El racismo es mas letal en EE.UU que el yihadismo (original text)
Headline from U.S. (Charleston Massacre):
“Nine dead in Charleston Church Massacre”
This one to me is very sad because in the U.S. it was originally being reported as if race has nothing to do with it. It’s viewing this incident as if it is some isolated incident and not an obvious hate crime. These subtleties are everywhere as I compare the two perspectives and the danger of it is that it cast doubt as well as promotes ignorance to what is really going on. What is the fear for these outlets in the U.S. to just be intellectually honest about what is going on? Maybe if we, as a country, accept the fact that racism is really this bad we will actually be forced to deal with the problem and who wants to do that? Lets look at an excerpt:
Excerpt from Articles in Spain (On Texas Pool incident):
The entire incident was recorded on a video that has spread through social networks like an oil slick and has caused outrage in a country where in recent months there have been scandalous cases of police brutality. (Translation)
Todo el incidente fue grabado en un vídeo que se ha extendido por las redes sociales como una mancha de aceite y ha provocado una gran indignación en un país en el que durante los últimos meses se han sucedido los escándalos por casos de brutalidad policial. (original text)
Excerpt from U.S. (On Texas incident):
The video posted to YouTube showing the police response to reports of fighting at a pool party sparked swift allegations of racism. Critics decried the white officer for cursing at several black teenagers, slamming the girl to the ground and unholstering his gun.
We see the same difference. The U.S. article is speaking from the perspective of ‘the critics’ its not actually calling it a fact. This once again allows the reader to feel like, “oh, okay this is just an opinion so I can have my own” rather than, “this is a fact and if my opinion differs I am actually wrong.”
I want to also show you what I am talking about when it comes to reporting facts. Here is an excerpt from a Spanish news outlet.
Excerpt from Spain (In regards to Baltimore):
The disparity between black and white in Baltimore, as the Bolton Hill neighbor says, is cosmic. In the white galaxy is the Johns Hopkins center for teaching and research pointer. “Only six miles separate the neighborhoods of Roland Park and Hollins Market”, said a few years ago Jonathan Bagger, vice president of the John Hopkins, speaking of the 10 kilometers between rich and one poor neighborhood. “But the difference between the average life expectancy is twenty years.” In Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood Freddie Gray, life expectancy is 69.7 years, the level of Iraq. Since January 74 homicides have been committed in the whole of Baltimore, a city of 620,000 inhabitants. Throughout 2014 there were 17 homicides in Madrid, a city of over three million. In the US, blacks represent 13% of the population and 30% of victims of police shootings.
La disparidad entre el Baltimore negro y el blanco es, como dice el vecino de Bolton Hill, cósmica. En la galaxia blanca está la Universidad John Hopkins, centro de enseñanza e investigación puntero. “Sólo seis millas separan los barrios de Roland Park y Hollins Market”, dijo hace unos años Jonathan Bagger, vicerrector de la John Hopkins, hablando de los 10 kilómetros entre un barrio rico y otro pobre. “Pero la diferencia entre la esperanza media de vida es de veinte años”. En Sandtown-Winchester, el barrio de Freddie Gray, la esperanza de vida es de 69,7 años, al nivel de Irak. Desde enero se han cometido 74 homicidios en el conjunto de Baltimore, una ciudad de 620.000 habitantes. En todo 2014 hubo 17 homicidios en Madrid, una ciudad de más de tres millones de habitantes. En EE UU los negros representan 13% de la población y el 30% de las víctimas de los disparos de la policía.
Excerpt from Spain (Charleston Massacre):
While the latter have claimed the lives of 26 people [jihadists], supremacists and right-wing extremists have killed 48. Not only that, even though the word terrorism has become synonymous with Islamist actions, a survey of four departments police have revealed that the greatest threat to most of them, 74%, is that of those anti-government extremists and only 39% believe that the greater the jihadists. Everyday the idea that the threat of Islamist extremism has been exaggerated and, conversely, that of the supremacist has been underestimated. (Translation)
Mientras estos últimos han acabado con la vida de 26 personas, supremacistas y extremistas de derechas han matado a 48. No solo eso, a pesar de que la palabra terrorismo se ha convertido en sinónimo de las acciones islamistas, una encuesta realizada a cuatrocientos departamentos de policía ha revelado que la mayor amenaza para la mayoría de ellos, un 74 %, es la de esos extremistas anti gobierno y solo un 39 % considera que es mayor la de los yihadistas. Cada día aumenta la idea de que la amenaza del extremismo islamista ha sido exagerada y, al revés, la de los supremacistas ha sido subestimada. (Original text)
When you go to the facts, it is pretty clear that inequality is not an opinion it is reality and it is the truth. We should treat it as such when we discuss it, write about it, talk about, etc. Lets not hide behind the opinions of other people, lets call it what it is. When outside news sources report on what is happening with these incidents in the U.S. it uses these examples to point out a much bigger problem, which is the inequality. It doesn’t talk about each of these cases like they are all distinct, isolated incidents, because they are not. They are all connected and all symptoms of a very big problem. This is not about if you are a left-winger or a right winger, this is about crimes against humanity. Why can’t we see it?
I share this in hopes that people might be open to the possibility that maybe they are a bit more influenced by systematic racism than they would like to believe and at least be open to the possibility that maybe racism and inequality really are this bad in our country and to challenge people, especially white people, to stand up and say something.
How will history remember you? Will you be remembered as someone who sat around and watched many African Americans murdered without due-process? Is your Facebook and social media platforms always silent as these crimes against humanity are occurring? Are you getting involved in any way?
“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”
 Proverbs 26:12 NIV