Racism Is the Norm in Media Accounts of Celebrity Domestic Violence

marylandA new study by Joanna Pepin, a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Maryland, finds that there is a racial bias in the reporting of domestic violence incidents by celebrity athletes, musicians, and actors.

Pepin examined media reporting on hundreds of cases of domestic violence involving celebrities. She found that “when the media reports on domestic violence, men’s violence is more likely to be portrayed as a criminal act when the celebrity is Black than when the celebrity is White.” Pepin found that when a Black man was accused of domestic violence, media reports were more likely to include arrest information, details of official charges, and the involvement of law enforcement officers than when a White man was accused of domestic violence. The research showed that criminal information was three times more likely to be published about Black defendants than for White defendants.

Pepin also added that “reports are more likely to include excuses for men’s violence against women when the coverage is of a White celebrity than when the celebrity is Black.” She found that excuses, such as inebriation, were two and half times more likely to be offered in media accounts when the defendant was White rather than Black.

The article, “Nobody’s Business? White Male Privilege in Media Coverage of Intimate Partner Violence,” was published in the journal Sociological Spectrum. It may be accessed here.

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  1. For many in the Black community, this is widely known and often times commented on when particular crimes occur. More important, this just shows the scope and depth of widespread systemic and institutional racism in the White controlled mass media.

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