African-American stereotypes – Term Paper

4.4.2 Traditional Media The Washington Post 

Fig 18: Excerpt from The Washington Post Showing Tamir Rice’s Shooting (Izadi & Holley, 2014).

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            The Washington Post article describes Tamir Rice as a person who was not given a chance. As such, the police officers are described to have not considered the possibility of the threat that Rice posed before engaging by firing at him. The video accompanying the article affirms the same since the shooting by one of the officers ensued the moment he stepped out of the vehicle which had pulled up in an instant. Consequently, the fate of Tamir Rice was sealed the moment the police vehicle pulled up. The video also shows a playful Tamir Rice posing no threat to anyone since he was playing all by himself.    The Guardian

Fig 19: Excerpt from The Guardian reports on Tamir Rice’s shooting (McCarthy, 2014).

            The Guardian more like the Washington Post reiterated the fact that the boy was of no threat and yet the officers who responded did not give room for the establishment of whether or not the boy posed any danger. Consequently, the shooting was not sanctioned in the sense that the situation was not adequately evaluated to qualify the need for such force as was used by the police officers. As such, the police officers made an ill-advised choice by shooting indiscriminately without verifying whether there was any danger presented by suspect. Hence, the Guardian presented Tamir Rice as an innocent child who posed no threat to the officers that shot him. abc5 News

Fig 20: An excerpt from abc5 news on Tamir Rice’s shooting (Ferrell, 2014).

            The story carried by abc5 shows that Tamir Rice was a victim of misunderstanding and miscommunication where a sound clip of Cleveland Dispatch Traffic was played during the broadcast meant to prove that the police officers were ill-informed about the specifics of the suspect. However, the information provided by dispatch does not qualify as an excuse for the officer’s engagement of the suspect without assessing the nature of the threat.  Regardless, the officers should have given Rice a chance to put his weapon down or surrender, instead, the officer went ahead to shoot the suspect without assessing the situation for any threats. Notably, the case of abc5 is a classic case of Framing Theory where the story is twisted in favor of the police officers involved in the shooting. New York Daily News

Fig 21: Excerpt from Daily News reports on Tamir Rice’s murder (NYDN, 2014).

            The NYDN also predominantly plays to the expectation of Framing Theory where the article paints Rice as a victim of circumstance. In fact, it does not claim that the appearance was not suspect, in fact, the article notes that the description of the suspect as wearing a concealing hoodie and acting aggressively as if posing danger to people in the vicinity fit the description of the stereotypical African-American. Hence, the story ran as an excuse for vindicating the police officer who shot Rice as having no information that the gun was fake or that the suspect was a minor. BBC News

Fig 22: Excerpt from BBC News reporting on Tamir Rice’s shooting (British Broadcasting Corporation News, 2014).

            The coverage of the BBC joins publications and broadcasting networks that present Tamir Rice as the victim. As such, the evidence presented in the article points to the fact that Tamir Rice was a victim of circumstance, however, the police officers acted negligently by not affirming and confirming the threat that the teenager posed if any at all. Consequently, the article presents Tamir Rice as having posed no significant threat to any one and yet the police shot him fatally. The New York Times

Fig 23: The New York Times version of events: Excerpt on reporting on Tamir Rice’s shooting (Fitzsimmons, 2014).

            This article in The New York Times seeks to demonize Tamir Rice as it reports that officers prompted Rice to put his hand up in the air, but, rice instead reached for a gun in waistband. The action prompted the officer who had requested tice to put his hands up to shoot him in self-defense. Such an account contradicts earlier reporting from newspapers and broadcasting where Tamir Rice was seen as the victim where police who shot him did so without verifying whether he posed a threat or not. As such, the report as indicated paints Tamir Rice in negative limelight by stereotyping him as an African-American aggressive male posing a danger to the police officers.

4.4.3 New Media YouTube

Fig 24: Excerpt from YouTube video of Tamir Rice’s shooting on YouTube (CBS Evening News, 2015).

            The video above elicited various reactions from YouTube follower’s samples of which are presented below;

Fig 25: Samples of reactions to the YouTube video above (CBS Evening News, 2015).

            The reactions to the YouTube video paint a picture of people who are concerned about the fate of children innocent as Tamir Rice who are caught playing with pistol or replica toys. The comments suggest that Tamir Rice was not given a chance to prove that he was holding a toy gun. Twitter

Fig 26: Excerpts from Twitter with description of Tamir Rice (Twitter, 2015).

            The tweets presented in the excerpts above all paint Tamir Rice as the victim. They all describe Rice as an individual who was a minor and who was not given a chance to surrender by the officers. Moreover, the officers did not see the boy as a threat and yet they proceeded to shoot him without verifying the state of the danger that Tamir Rice presented. Tweets shared in social media present personal opinions and feelings on the issue. Moreover, the discussions on Twitter present the outrage that many individuals showed owing to the grotesque nature with which the officers fired at the suspect. Notably, one tweet presented explicitly mentions branding by police officers where it was established that the police officer while in conversation with dispatch wanted clarification of whether the suspect was White or Black. It goes without saying that the stereotypical Black suspect juxtaposition must have informed the officer’s actions as pertains to the assault or use of force on young Tamir Rice. Facebook

Fig 27: Excerpts from Facebook posts about Tamir Rice (Facebook, 2015).

            The Facebook posts much like the tweets presented before have a mixture of opinions and points of view in the case of Tamir Rice’s killing by police officers. However, there is more of remorse and call for justice seen as to be a popular trend in the sample of the tweets presented where individuals call for justice for Tamir Rice and his family. Again, individualized opinion much like the freedom of speech exists in Twitter where persons are free to speak their minds and take positions on the issue.

4.4.4 Case Review

            An analysis of Tamir Rice’s case reveals that Traditional media outperforms new media when it comes to negative connotations associated with Tamir Rice’s description. As such, the old media had more instances where the allusion to a black man wearing a hoodie and holding a gun was broadcast and published. However, overall both traditional and modern media did present more instances of positive description or connotations of Tamir Rice where the media particularly focused on presenting Rice as the victim and that the police officers acted unnecessarily too swiftly without first having verified the nature of the threat posed by Tamir Rice. From a broader perspective, it can be deduced that both traditional and new media were juxtaposed to presenting Tamir as a minor and the victim contrary to a dangerously aggressive armed African-American male that is characteristic of description of Black men.


Media Findings

Presentation of Tamir Rice



 Modern Media










Old Media







Table 3: Positive and Negative Representation of Tamir Rice in the Media (Source: Author).