Sean Taylor: A Look Back At The Racist Media Coverage Of His Death

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Within minutes of his death, a cavalcade of columnists turned the athlete’s tragedy into a lesson of what comes from living a “thug life” — then tried to drill it home.

It’s been a whole decade since the free safety for the Washington Redskins, Sean Taylor, was shot dead at his home in the Miami area of Florida.

The 24-year-old NFL player was shot at his home in front of his girlfriend and 18-month-old daughter by panicked burglars who were attempting to rob what they thought was an empty house. The bullet tore through Taylor’s femoral artery and he died the next day due to blood loss.

Instead of weeping for a life needlessly taken, the media went on a racist rampage against the NFL player, digging up his controversial history as if to imply, “we always knew he’d come to a bad end.”

Within minutes of his death, a cavalcade of columnists turned the athlete’s tragedy into a lesson of what comes from living a “thug life” — then tried to drill it home.

Even “credible” voices like The Washington Post had a story titled “Taylor Death Is Tragic But Not Surprising” in the aftermath of his demise. As for the accounts of Taylor’s murder, there were hardly any details of the shooting. Meanwhile, the NFL player’s past run-ins with the laws were written with every minute, sordid detail even as endless, baseless speculations were made about why he was shot.

Sports radio was even worse. ESPN’s radio show host Colin Cowherd incensed Washington when he unabashedly stated, “Sean Taylor, a great player has a history of really, really bad judgment, really, really bad judgment….I’m supposed to believe his judgment got significantly better in two years, from horrible to fantastic?…‘Oh, wah wah wah, sensitivity, he’s a great person, wah wah wah.’ Hey, I don’t care, that’s fine, he died.”

As disturbing as it is, the situation is made much worse by the cruel reality that nothing has changed, even after 10 years. The past misdeeds of black people are relentlessly repeated until a conclusion is reached the person deserved to die in such a way. Meanwhile, if it’s a white person, whose crimes are much more grievous, the news of their transgression vanishes faster than a coin in a magician’s hand.

The hypocrisy is staggering.

If Taylor were a white person, the scenario would have played out much differently. The headlines likely would have talked about what a hero he was for laying his life down in defense of his family.

That did not happen for Taylor.

Many media outlets even went so far as to imply since he was a black man, he was obviously killed by other black men — propagating the prevalent stereotype of black on black violence.

 

It didn’t matter that Taylor did not live in a poor, black Miami neighborhood but in a regal suburban home with his long-time partner and baby. Nor the fact that people who actually knew him said he preferred to be alone and did not have any connections with gangs or drug peddlers.

All that mattered was his dark skin tone — and the consequences that come with it.

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS, Andrew Cameron

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