One of my all-time favorite Netflix titles is an Ava DuVernay special titled, ‘When They See Us.’
Not seen it yet? Here’s a quick back story.
It’s an emotional narrative on how five innocent teenagers were sentenced to years of incarceration for a crime they had nothing to do with. Nothing at all.
It was open season on black skinned young men back then (still is, ask Arbery’s grieving Mother) and so the press dubbed them the ‘ Park Five.’
It took many years, countless appeals and an eventual confession for them (they were full-grown men by now) to be released and renamed the ‘ Exonerated Five.’
Years later and with more ‘Black Lives Matter’ marches than we can honestly remember, the way ‘they’ see us is still subject to constant debate. But that is a story for another day.
The interest of this piece is somewhat apolitical, so it doesn’t really focus on ‘When They See Us’ but as the article title states, ‘How They See Us.’
A Sky News article made the rounds a few days ago about something they tagged an emerging trend of ‘Corona Virus Hairstyle’ in Africa and notable figures from Hollywood actor John Boyega to media mogul Mo Abudu and Nollywood veteran actress, Joke Silva were riled at the audacity of reducing a popular traditional hairstyle to a pandemic fad.
The outburst resulted in the article being cleverly edited and for Sky News this is not a first.
The Kenyan stowaway who dropped 3500 feet into London airspace was wrongly identified in their piece after constant rebuttal from the authorities about the man’s identity. They eventually recanted after they confessed to being misled by untruthful stakeholders.
This piece is not aimed at Sky News in particular. Not at all. CNN has been known to reduce the boundless landmass of Africa and its distinct national boundary lines to a country.
Can you imagine?
The issue is that a news platform far away in the western world, in a bid to report happenings in Africa would rather go with western correspondents than their more locally-knowledgeable African counterparts, hence the error.
Who better to tell the African story, a local resident who is land-locked here and understands the terrain or an imported reporter who knows next to nothing about how things really work over here.
A little research into traditional African hairstyles would have easily revealed that the hairstyle tagged ‘a new fad’ has actually been in existence long before we were born, longer than that to be honest.
A local would have easily known that. But an international correspondent, especially one who simply questions a single source, would be intrigued by what he regards as a unique story angle.
It’s no surprise that no African based news agency reported the alleged ’emerging’ Corona Virus Hairstyle trend.
Why would they? They know the terrain and the people.
It’s as simple as that.
This article was written by Henri ‘Yire; connect on Instagram with him here