Karina Vetrano, 30 was a speech therapist who went for a jog this past summer. She never returned home. Vetrano’s body was bound beaten, strangled and dumped faced down in weeded marshes near her home in Queens, NY. Later through forensic evidence it would be discovered that she had also been sexually assaulted.
Residents of her neighborhood were rightfully outraged by her murder, seeking justice and that whoever did this would be arrested and charged accordingly for the crime.
The perpetrator, Chanel Lewis, was arrested Saturday evening. Lewis admitted to killing Vetrano and submitted a DNA sample upon request; which matched the DNA found on Vetrano’s body. Lewis had no prior criminal background.
Many who are familiar with criminal justice would be wise to think the story would end here, unfortunately it took an unexpected and familial turn.
The story then became one of race, with the media calling Lewis, a black male a ‘Woman-Hating, Demon, Brute.’ These phrases are not just name calling; they have important and historical reference when referring to black men specifically in America. For many the case has become racialized—an accused Black man and white female victim have created a slippery slope. The suspect will face his time in court and pay for what he has done, however, for the media to slip into racial verbiage is unnecessary and unprofessional.
The media should not be reductive in its thoughts to see this as solely a black vs white issue; because it is not. This is about a man who committed a crime against an unsuspected victim, whose life was taken. America has had a history of demonizing the black male specifically through media, often unjustly. The Justice system must be allowed to do what it is supposed to do, which is hold all irrespective of ethnic group accountable for crimes they may or may not have committed. Media must stop reverting to the race card when convenient for those in the dominant society to fit an untrue stereotypical image of how they perceive blackness, a convenience that has proven to have disastrous effects for black Americans when left unchecked.