The world mourned those slain at the editorial offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris on January 7, 2015, with a reported 3.7 million marched through Paris. “Je Suis Charlie” was emblazoned on placards and repeatedly uttered by political leaders and celebrities throughout the world.
The Western news media’s extensive coverage contrasted sharply with the limited attention toward the slaughter of an estimated 2,000 Nigerians by the Boko Haram terrorist group. The slayings took place over the course of several days beginning on January 3, with victims consisting primarily of women, children, and the elderly.
“This marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught,” Amnesty International noted following the brutal attacks.
To be sure, several Western media outlets presented coverage of the event—including CNN, the New York Times, Al Jazeera, and several UK newspapers—yet in comparative terms this reportage was dwarfed by the Charlie Hebdo affair, suggesting the racial nuances to the editorial decision making of major news media and, along these lines, which victims are worthy or less worthy of exposure.
Further, in the wake of the “Black Lives Matter” campaign and ensuing protests over inordinate police violence against African Americans, the wide disparity between the two events alongside the silence by notable US liberal voices suggests how shallow any genuine commitment to such change may be.
Some corporate media suggested that those responsible for the Charlie Hebdo attacks may have been motivated by “rap music.” “There has been an almost instinctive need to contextualize these crimes through a white supremacist lens,” Kristen West Savali writes, thus “raising the specter of blackness as a terrorist threat to society. Meanwhile, the brutal killing of thousands of Nigerians largely goes ignored.”
Source: Kristen West Savali, “Thousands of Black Lives Mattered in Nigeria, but the World Didn’t Pay Attention,” The Root, January 13, 2015, http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2015/01/black_lives_in_nigeria_should_also_matter.html.
Student Researcher: Courtney Crawford (Florida Atlantic University)
Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)