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Media display racism in reporting on the Russia-Ukraine war

A view of damaged building after the shelling is said by Russian forces in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv on March 3, 2022. - Ukraine and Russia agreed to create humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians on March 3, in a second round of talks since Moscow invaded last week, negotiators on both sides said. (Photo by Sergey BOBOK / AFP)

A view of damaged building after the shelling is said by Russian forces in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv on March 3, 2022. - Ukraine and Russia agreed to create humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians on March 3, in a second round of talks since Moscow invaded last week, negotiators on both sides said. (Photo by Sergey BOBOK / AFP)

Published Mar 5, 2022

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Cape Town - ONE would think racism would be nipped in the bud by the media when reporting on the conflict in Ukraine.

But this has not been the case when one evaluates commentary from media personalities and some experts on the Russian invasion of Ukraine that started last month.

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CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata, speaking on the invasion on air, said, “this (Ukraine) isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European, I have to choose those words carefully, too – city, one where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen”.

D’Agata’s comments simply noted that Ukrainians deserved more sympathy than the Middle East and African countries which are always ravaged by war which most of the time is caused by the same “civilised” nations.

One ITV journalist, who has not been named and reporting from Poland, said: “Now the unthinkable has happened to them. And this is not a developing, Third World nation. This is Europe!”

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Like D’Agata, he implied the Middle East and Africa were synonymous with war.

Another disappointing segment on Al Jazeera allowed their anchor to get away with saying: “Looking at them (referring to refugees), the way they are dressed, these are prosperous middle-class people. These are not obviously refugees looking to get away from areas in the Middle East that are still in a big state of war. These are not people trying to get away from areas in North Africa. They look like a European family that you would live next door to.”

Like others in the world, comedian Trevor Noah picked up on the blatant racism and criticised it. “Here is a thing, people,” said Noah in a video published by The Daily Show, “beyond the racism, right? Like, let's forget the racism. You do realise that until very recently, fighting crazy wars was Europe’s thing. They even had a thing called the Hundred Years War. They got a Nobel prize because they stopped fighting.”

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Noah said he was shocked to see how many reporters around the world seemed to think that the events in Ukraine are more of a tragedy when white people have to flee their countries. “Because, guess what, the darkies were built for it?”

BLF leader Andile Mngxitama said this showed that, in moments of crisis, anti-black racism always raises its ugly head. “The treatment of black people in Ukraine and the media portrayal or lack thereof of the injustices shows again that blacks can suffer with no consequences.”

He said the media is proving Russian president Vladimir Putin correct when he says there are neo-Nazi insurgents in Ukraine. “The victims of the war are themselves anti-black, the reporting shows us the global system of racism. It is intact and alive. The media is the purveyor of white interest and blacks' invisibility. That is in the DNA of the white perspective and the white media is simply reproducing that erasure of the black pain.”

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Mngxitama said as long the world is controlled by white people's interests first, black suffering has no chance of being recognised.

“This is going to continue until there is a change in the global system of power. It is the burden of black people to raise their voices but as you can see even in South Africa, the independent media is under attack because it does not bend to the tune of white interest. The war is essentially the predominance of white perspective.”

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Weekend Argus

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