Tuesday, November 28, 2006

All prettied up and no where to go but in a casket

A girl from Bossier City died in Memphis over the weekend.

She wasn't just any ol' regular girl either.

She was pretty.

And the news of her death has been all over the news in Memphis and in Shreveport. Maybe its because police think her husband may have killed her. Maybe it's because she makes another local person who the local community is having to grieve among the many soldiers, airmen, and other victims of random violence.

Or, maybe it's because she's a pretty girl.

At least that's how the people that knew her described her to me. When they remembered their lost friend, all of them said the same thing: "she was so pretty--a beautiful girl."

She was a beautiful, blond-haired girl with blue eyes. (Blond hair and blue eyes automatically makes you gorgeous, right?) She was a good student and had a winning personality, say those that knew her. She had a lot in common with me, we have the same name and we even have the same college major. She lived less than three hours away from my hometown. She even had the job of my childhood ambition.

But because people that look like me--dark, solid, reasonably attractive--die everyday I don't think I'd make news in Tennessee and Louisiana even though people say I've got a great personality and winning smile. My mom would even say I'm the most beautiful girl she's ever seen. I still don't think I'd make the news in both states, even if my non-existent husband bludgeoned me to death.

What does this say about us? What does it say about my job? Hundreds of people die everyday all over the country and very few of them make the news, let alone news in two states. Tamika Huston or LaDarius Smith and even Keshia Lewis get shot, killed, beaten, robbed, stabbed, bludgeoned and even come up missing daily. Where's the outcry for them? Where are the news articles with people remembering them? Where are the folks that say they're "beautiful" too?

Check this out for another perspective: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-06-15-missing-minorities_x.htm.

Think about it: Natalee Holloway, Laci Peterson, and now our friend here were all pretty folks. And guess what? They keep on making news.


Mr. Idiot said...

You might be pretty on the outside, but to write such crap, you have to be pretty ugly on the inside.

Donecia Pea said...

You know it's amazing how some people simply can't handle the truth. So much so till instead of providing rational critique or comments, they resort to insults. Ashley, you've shined a much-needed light on an issue that has been overlooked for far too long by the media (us) and society as a whole. Far too often, minority victims of such crimes, including kidnapping, are overlooked/ignored by the mainstream press or receive very little coverage, if any. We definitely have to do better in making sure we tell EVERYONE's story.

Anonymous said...

A bit harsh, but truthful nonetheless.

Ashley Northington said...

I really didn't mean to be harsh. I hate that people become to the victims of random violence daily. I just wanted to put it out there that the general media does overlook certain types of people when it comes to stuff like this. And, mr. idiot, I appreciate you reading our blog.

melissa dameworth said...

I agree with you Ashley. More often than not it seems as though having a particular skin, hair or eye color automatically makes you beautiful and worthy.

Each and every person who falls victim to senseless violence deserves the same level of concern and attention.

When the time comes for me to leave this earth, I hope people will have more to say about me than, "She was a pretty girl."

Kate Warren said...

I feel like this blog has nothing to discuss but racial issues.

Joel Anderson said...

I don't have to be convinced of the fact that the media sometimes is insensitive or ignorant or absent in its handling of stories about browner, poorer, and, um, "uglier" victims of crime. We are all complicit in this, to some degree, as journalists.

But, to me, that isn't applicable here.

The Times ran one story - yesterday (Wednesday) - about the woman, only the woman's friends described her as "pretty" and this story is worth talking about here, so it's therefore worth running in the paper. I mean, it's generating discussion, isn't it? That makes it newsworthy, right?

We've run plenty of stories in our paper on the front page, and alas, even followed up sometimes on browner, poorer, and, um, "uglier" victims of similar crimes. I could list a few examples but I won't because this blog would become too boring and somewhat depressing. If you're interested, we can do that.

It's no big deal that the woman's loved ones called her pretty. I mean, if I, you, or anyone else, dies, that's not the worst way to be remembered. Your obit is usually is formed from your loved one's memories and whatever impact you manage to leave on others. That's all. Some say a person is nice, others say they were generous, some say pretty. It's their choice.

While this is a worthwhile topic when discussing the Holloway case, I really don't see how this one relates.

And, Kate, you're right and wrong. We do discuss racial issues sometimes on this blog. It can be a worthwhile topic and usually isn't discussed often enough ... intelligently, I mean. If you disagree, check out the comments portion of our Web stories following the recent mayoral election. It can be good to have this sort of dialogue from time to time, don't you think?

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