Shaun King is a black lives matter activist. I follow him because it’s good to see what points others have, especially if I don’t agree with them. He claims to stand against all injustice, but a quick review of his social media posts reveals that he heavily favors painting whites as evil and blacks as innocent victims. He often leaves out relevant facts or neglects to correct previous misstatements if doing so makes the story less enraging.* He also paints incidents as racist when there’s no evidence of racist motivation.** As a result, his followers stay at a low simmer of rage and frequently comment in favor of starting a race war or getting weapons and protecting themselves [against the police].
How does his work benefit white supremacists? They can point to Shaun King’s poorly informed followers (mostly black) and generalize about the ignorance of black Americans. His followers are angry and comment on nearly every post in favor of starting a race war. This fuels the narrative that blacks are hostile, threatening, dangerous, and need to be shot before they can hurt others. Psychology research shows that feeling annoyed, feeling you’re the victim of injustice, makes you more likely to commit antisocial acts. This creates a vicious cycle of law enforcement treating blacks as a larger threat, blacks feeling this is unjustified, and subsequently behaving in antisocial ways that make cops see them as even more dangerous. Relatedly, feeling the world is targeting them makes them commit more criminal acts, also raising the rate of incarceration and contributing to violent crime stats which white supremacists can point at in support of the idea of segregation. they can say “it’s not about racism, it’s about safety.”
An activist truly concerned with improving the lot of black folks wouldn’t focus so heavily on police violence or interracial violence because it’s a relatively small portion of all violence visited upon the black community. Sure, it’s injustice, but isn’t all violence a form of injustice? Shaun King’s work may punish individuals for acts perceived as racist, like Permit Patty, but his activism does more harm than good if he’s helping perpetuate white supremacist stereotypes about black people being ignorant and violent with his deliberately inflammatory and one-sided reporting.
*examples where Shaun King presents stories without all of the facts, in a way that maximizes outrage:
- He initially reported Antwon Rose‘s age as 13, never corrected this mistake
- He never reported that Rose and another passenger were suspected shooters in an earlier incident, and that the car had ballistic damage that matched the shooter’s car.
- Markeis McGlockton‘s girlfriend was parked in handicapped spot and was confronted about this — he presents it as a man threatening someone over “a parking spot,” making the man sound crazy.
- He says McGlockton was “defending his girl and his kids” without mentioning that he escalated to physical violence first by shoving the man to the ground.
- He never mentioned Permit Patty‘s claims that she tried to talk to the girl and her mother to have them be quieter, but the mother cursed her out instead of cooperating, which led to the cops being called.
** examples where Shaun King claims racist motivation without evidence
- Nia Wilson: “Investigators are still trying to determine what led to the attack. Rojas says they have no information it was racially motivated, but they are not discarding that as a possible motive.“
- Donesha Gowdy: He claims this would never have happened “to a white girl” — implying racism. In the comments, some claimed the cop was also black, further complicating matters.
- Chicago bait trucks: He calls this “fundamentally racist” — which is not true unless it’s his contention that blacks are less able to avoid committing theft than people of other races.