JOANNA ROTHKOPF Follow @joannarothkopf
On Sunday, the New York Times published what was a generally poignant piece about Michael Brown, the teenager who was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Reporter John Eligon wrote eloquently of Brown’s introspective final weeks struggling with religion and the meaning of life. However, the generally respectful article has unwittingly demonstrated the media’s unconscious bias.
Michael Brown, 18, due to be buried on Monday, was no angel, with public records and interviews with friends and family revealing both problems and promise in his young life. Shortly before his encounter with Officer Wilson, the police say he was caught on a security camera stealing a box of cigars, pushing the clerk of a convenience store into a display case. He lived in a community that had rough patches, and he dabbled in drugs and alcohol. He had taken to rapping in recent months, producing lyrics that were by turns contemplative and vulgar. He got into at least one scuffle with a neighbor.