A SON BEATEN TO DEATH ON TV: Is this a new norm for Black American moms?

(Caution: This post may be difficult to read)

The sensationalism of Black versus Blue killings in our society is off the spectrum, in my opinion, and it is creating dire consequences. In my opinion, there are so many things wrong with seeing Tyre Nichols beaten to death on national television repeatedly. But does anyone care?

When the deadly altercation aired last Friday, during prime-time television hours, I seriously thought America had turned into Rome, where it was a sport to see people killed live. I find it all odd because I do think Nichols’ death was horrific, and his family needed to see it. I do believe we need police reforms (duh? Haven’t Tim Scott and Corey Booker—two Senators who happen to be Black and who happen to be in different political parties—been working on this for YEARS now). However, I also believe there is something sick about constantly airing a man being beaten to death. 

I remember when Muslim terrorists flew suicide planes into the Twin Towers in Manhattan. It was a terrifying sight. Unbelievable. On the morning of 9/11, I watched international terrorism happen again and again until I picked up a phone and called family members who could check on my cousin, who worked in Manhattan’s financial district. 

We were fortunate that although the rubble smashed his car, he survived. I will never forget the fear my family felt in the hours of not knowing whether he was alive. We cried. We prayed. We tried to act strong, and we watched as those planes flew into those buildings on every news outlet again and again. 

Later we would be told how psychologically damaging the replay was for our children and psyches. Unfortunately, we were stuck with those acts of violence replaying in our minds. And for a long time, we kept fearing what would be next. 

Well, I am tired of watching, replaying, and fearing what will be next. I am tired of seeing Black mother’s crying over the caskets of their sons and daughters. And I am equally tired of seeing the last moments of a man’s life televised like some cruel commercial for Black life in America.

Why? Are Blacks the only people killed by police in this country? Do White, Asian, and Pacific Islander mothers lose children to police violence? Are Blacks the poster race for victims of police brutality? Surely you would believe so if you were a little Green Martian coming onto this earth within the last ten years.  

Only White police killing Blacks, or White people acting like police, have been a newsworthy topic for years…until Nichols’ death when the officers were also Black.

“Let’s televise what they have done. The public needs to see.“ 

Well, I am not sure that we do anymore.

Maybe we have seen enough. 

Remember. It was totally unhealthy to see two towers falling in New York City repeatedly, but there is no cry out about the murderous reels of Black people. These videos are racist or misandrist fantasies. Is society so insensitive to the history of trauma we are creating? Somewhere in the telling of Black stories, we have forgotten about Black children and their mental health. 

Did Rev. Al Sharpton or attorney Ben Crump or their staff ever ask any psychologist or psychiatrist how this might affect Black people to see these images over and over again? Did anyone ask if this was healthy for the community before they aired a man being beaten to death? Are we reimagining Rome?

Once is enough. Seeing a picture of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till after he has been beaten to death by two racist men for allegedly whistling at a White woman in the South is not the same as showing a video of a murder repeatedly. No responsible adult would allow their child to sleep with a photograph of young Till in his open casket and then set the same photo in front of the child at breakfast, day after day. Would they?

The photos at the funeral of Till were revealing and necessary in their time, but what we do now on the news and social media borders on sadistic. We are becoming a society that is desensitized to Black lives lost. 

Sadly, Black men and children are killed more often by senseless violence in their own neighborhoods than by police. Where are the prayer vigils for the six-month-old baby murdered during a drive-by shooting? Have the family members of the two lives taken in the New Year’s Eve shooting here in Ocala received justice? 

In my opinion, there are more questions than answers. I have more like, what happened to MAD DADS? And D.A.R.E.? 

Last Friday’s peaceful march and protest after the Black-on-Black crime witnessed in Memphis, TN, is a step in the right direction. I heard the clergy had a lot to do with keeping the community calm after the release of the tapes showing Nichols’ senseless beating. (No duh? Prayer changes things, and we need more prayerful responses to the injustices in the world.)

I read that Tiffany Rachal sang at Nichols’ funeral, which was televised this week. Rachal is the mother of Jalen Randle, who was shot by a Houston police officer last year. In her comments to the congregation, Rachal stated that “all of the mothers all over the world need to come together, need to come together to stop all of this.” 

If MAD DADS is defunct, even if it is not, Ms. Rachal is correct. The good news is that there is an organization meeting the needs of mothers who have lost their children to violence. The organization is Voices of Black Mothers United – https://www.voicesofblackmothers.com  – and is a second step in the right direction. 

Prayer and resources that work to heal are key. We need grass-roots advocacy in action. I believe we can change our blighted communities for the better from the inside out without all the titillating negative media attention that only serves to promote certain figures but leaves a deeper, lasting psychological wound.

That’s my opinion. 

Thank you for reading. I wish you a safe and vibrant weekend. 


Leah (Former staff assistant to the MAD DADS of Ocala Youth Director)

Photo credit: A magazine article I wrote for Ocala Style on Mose Newson overlapping a photograph I took at the National Museum of African American History of a printing press.

2 thoughts on “A SON BEATEN TO DEATH ON TV: Is this a new norm for Black American moms?

  1. Lovely

    I believe we are in for more and more sensationalism on tv and other media platforms unless we pray a lot more than we are currently.

  2. Really, Leah? Post author

    😞 Yes…Well I am trying to do my part to pray and do some work for and in the affected areas that will subvert some of these killings and the sensationalism that follows.


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