On July 22, 18-year-old Nia Wilson was murdered in a stabbing at a transit station in Oakland, California.

The teen had just stepped off a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train with her two sisters, one of whom was also targeted in the incident but survived. The "prison-style attack" on Wilson, who was black, may have been a racially motivated hate crime, according to investigators.

"It's nothing imaginable, seeing your child on the BART platform with a yellow tarp over her body," said Wilson's father, Ansar Muhammad. "That is an image I'll never forget for the rest of my life."


The senseless tragedy rattled the Bay Area — and then the entire country.

Even though recently paroled John Lee Cowell — a 27-year-old white man with a violent criminal history — was arrested for the murder the following day, tensions flared across the nation.

Demonstrators in Oakland filled the streets, frustrated with law enforcement's relatively sluggish response to Wilson's death (research suggests police are slower to react when victims are people of color). Angry celebrities like Kehlani, Tegan and Sara, and Anne Hathaway elevated Wilson's story through their online platforms.

"The murder of Nia Wilson — may she rest in the power and peace she was denied here — is unspeakable AND MUST NOT be met with silence," Hathaway wrote on Instagram. "She is not a hashtag; she was a black woman and she was murdered in cold blood by a white man."

Many photos of the 18-year-old — who'd been planning a future career in the beauty or music industries or possibly the Army — were plucked from her social media accounts and shared by outraged sympathizers.

Out of all of Wilson's photos, however, a Bay Area news station chose the absolute wrong one to use in their coverage.  

In the photo used by KTVU News, Wilson appeared to be holding a gun. She wasn't, to be clear: The item in her hand was a cellphone case shaped in the form of a gun.

But the damage had already been done.

This may seem like a non-issue to some people (particularly white folks), but it reflects a much larger systemic problem concerning media portrayals of black and brown people in the U.S.

The news media often portrays people of color as inherently more violent — even when they're the victims of crimes.

White criminals, on the other hand, seem to benefit from their skin color.

Just look at convicted rapist Brock Turner, a white man who's habitually referred to in headlines as a "Stanford swimmer" and complemented with flattering photos. Compare that to much of the coverage surrounding slain, innocent 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, whose "thug" outfit and cannabis use apparently justified his killing.

These aren't isolated lapses in judgment. They're part of a much larger news media system that portrays people of color differently than white people.

The photo KTVU used in its broadcast reinforced negative stereotypes and contributed to this problem, according to the National Association of Black Journalists.

"There's no justification for KTVU's airing of a photo of her apparently holding a fake gun cellphone case," the group's president, Sarah Glover, told Poynter. "KTVU victimized her twice by airing an image that puts her in a negative light and that also has nothing to do with her death."

Fortunately, KTVU quickly acknowledged its failure and apologized for featuring the problematic photo of Wilson.

Anchor Frank Somerville addressed the controversy head-on during a live broadcast, going off-script to express his apologies.

"There's no doubt we made a mistake," Somerville said. "It never should have happened. But we made the mistake, and we are owning up to that mistake."

He continued:  

"Nia was a just beautiful young woman. And I can only hope right now that her family and her parents are watching so that they can see me and all of us here at Channel 2 say that we are so sorry about what happened to your daughter, and we are sorry about the mistake that we made today."

Somerville, with the encouragement of the station's news director, also took to his Facebook page to address the issue.

He may not have been involved in choosing the photo, Somerville noted in a post, but that's irrelevant.

"There is no excuse for [what] we did. Repeat: No excuse!" Somerville wrote. "We NEVER should have used that picture. It was a huge mistake on our part."

You can read his whole post below:

I wanted to take a moment and apologize for a picture that KTVU showed on the air for several seconds today about the...

Posted by Frank Somerville KTVU on Monday, July 23, 2018

Even when it's done unintentionally, the media can get it wrong in big ways.

So when a news source does, it should confront the mistake and vow to do better. The more we talk about the flawed portrayals of people of color in the world around us, the more we can change the problem for the better.

Nothing can bring back Wilson. But her family deserves the world to remember her as the helpful, bright, big dreamer she was.

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


Keep Reading Show less

Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

Keep Reading Show less

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

Keep Reading Show less