Author: Zaid Jilani

To Honor Murder Victims, Stop Fixating on the Race of Their Killers 

On December 30, a 7-year-old Houston girl named Jazmine Barnes was killed in a drive-by shooting. Witnesses to the crime, including family members, pointed out that a white man in a pick-up truck had fled the scene. This became the profile authorities used to pursue the shooter. Witness testimony often is unreliable, but it is perfectly valid for such accounts to serve as the basis for a police search. The tip soon took on a life of its own, however, when a plethora of liberal celebrities and activists jumped to the conclusion that Barnes, an African American girl, had been murdered by a white man consumed by racism. The story soon was being treated as a “national story about race and violence.” A lawyer for the victim’s family stated that there could be no rationale for the killing “other than hate.” The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights definitively claimed that Barnes had been killed when “a white gunman fired into her mother’s care.” It used the hashtag #SayHerName, a throwback to a Black …