White Middle-Schooler Beaten Unconscious by Group of Black Students

The story is shocking enough, even without bringing race into it: on the way to school in Ocala, FA, a thirteen-year-old girl was beaten unconscious and reportedly went into a seizure after being attacked on the school bus by a group of fellow students.

The girl reportedly was riding the bus for the first time.  Someone threw a shoe at her, and she threw it back, hitting a student.  That's when the beating began.  At least seven students surrounded the girl, punched her, held her head to the floor by her hair, and kicked her.  The bus driver pulled the bus over, stopped the beating, and then continued driving.  But the beating started again, so the driver diverted to a nearby school and called officials, and the girl was taken to the hospital.

Aside from the brutality, there was another troubling fact about this crime -- a fact that predictably did not make it into the news: the attackers were black, and the victim was white.  Yet, for the first few days after the attack, not a single news outlet reported on the race of the victim.  Since the attack occurred, only one news item has even indirectly mentioned the victim's race.  This can't be because the information was hard to come by.  The Ocala Sheriff's Office responded to my inquiry about the victim's race within hours.

Many well-meaning people will ask why race matters.  Violence is violence, and people are people, so why bring race into it?  I sympathize with that sentiment.  The trouble is that, if the races were reversed, this would be a larger story.  It would be a larger story because we have a system of racial double standards -- some written, some unwritten -- that serve to conceal the reality of crimes like this.

Race matters in stories like this because liberals have made race matter everywhere, in every facet of life.  Every institution, from schools to fire departments, is fixated on "achievement gaps," or "disparities," or "underrepresentation," not to mention every form of racially driven categorization imaginable.  Yet, when white people are on the wrong side of a disparity, like a seven-on-one beating, we're supposed to ignore the racial element of that.  Or we're racist for making a point of it.

If the girl beaten on that bus were black, and her attackers were white, there would have been a discussion of "hate crimes."  Civil rights leaders would begin the chorus of national soul-searching.  If the races were reversed, this would not be treated as an isolated incident.  Criminal prosecution of those responsible would be only the beginning.  "Society" would be made to answer for its lingering racist sinfulness if the victim were black.  Well, which part of "society" will be made to answer for the beating of the thirteen-year-old Ocala girl?

The news reports don't begin to capture the horror of what must have occurred on that school bus.  If you wonder what such an attack might look like, it probably resembled the recent vicious beating of a fourteen-year-old white girl by at least three black females on a public train in Oregon.  The video of that attack has sound, and the shrieking, cheering, and frenzy of onlookers must be heard to be believed.  The behavior captured in that video is astonishing in its subhuman indifference.  No one on the train helped the girl.  Instead of using their cell phones to call the police, young people used their cell phones to record the beating as they jeered.  The thirteen-year-old victim in Ocala was probably caught in a similar nightmare.

The Ocala story fits a common mold: only a few news outlets indirectly reported on the race of the attackers, and only one barely mentioned the race of the victim.  That one mention appeared almost by accident, tucked away in one line in the form of a statement from a girl who is charged in the beating, fourteen-year-old Zantavia Williams:

Williams said the victim, a white female, entered the back of the bus, and was told she would have to stand. Deputies said she was then hit by a shoe.

Williams said that's when the victim uttered a racial slur, and several black students began beating her.

Williams has every reason to say that the victim uttered a racial slur, which is probably a "post hoc" rationalization and is certainly meant to minimize the moral blame we attach to the attackers.  A "racial slur" is the best explanation to give, considering the fact that there is no possible way Williams and the other six attackers could claim self defense.

At least seven students have been identified, arrested, and charged in the beating.  Their names: thirteen-year-old Lamiracle Mackey,fourteen-year-old Zantavia Williams, fourteen-year-old Ladricka James, twelve-year-old Javaris Beard, thirteen-year-old Alphonso Young, twelve-year-old Bria Watkins, and fifteen-year-old Jebria Welch.  One news outlet actually showed pictures of several of the misunderstood youths.  The victim has been treated, largely, as a race-less phantom.  Perhaps the coverage would be more accurate if the story were somehow more dramatic, but far worse racially tinged crimes have been essentially overlooked by the media.  For instance, Jerry Newingham, 61, and Hoang D. Nguyen, 72, were murdered in a brutal "game," called the "knock-out game," which garnered no national attention.

Last year, 61-year-old Jerry Newingham, who was white, was heinously stomped to death by a group of nine black teenagers in Decatur, IL.  The group was playing a violent, racist game --played almost exclusively by black teenagers -- called the "knock-out game," which is as cruel as it sounds.  After school ended one day, the teens began their game.  They "randomly" selected Mr. Newingham.  The teens punched, kicked, and then jumped on and stomped him; he never regained consciousness after being mauled.  Not content with that achievement, 70 minutes later, the group "randomly" selected and beat up 46-year-old Kevin Wilson, who also happened to be white.  One witness said that a teen jumped on Wilson's head -- jumping with both feet.

Two half-brothers were convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder in those stomping attacks.  The crime and trial were covered only in local news, with no discussion of hate crimes by prosecutors or the press.  Newingham was not the first to be killed in this game and then ignored by those who claim to care about racism and justice.  Contrast these murders with the killing of James Byrd, Jr., which resulted in congressional legislation.

Attorney General Eric Holder famously said that we are "essentially a nation of cowards" in failing to discuss racial issues.  If failing to discuss racial issues makes you a coward, I wonder what the attorney general would have to say about the local press in Ocala, FA, just for starters.

John Bennett (M.A., University of Chicago, Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences; J.D., Emory University) is a veteran and writer living in Atlanta, GA.

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