South Fulton Councilman Raises Possible Media Bias Against African-Americans

The following is a letter to the editor from South Fulton Councilman Khalid Kamau:

On Tuesday, April 18, residents of South Fulton elected a mayor and city council. Georgia’s newest municipality is also the state’s largest in 100 years – over 100,000 people and 107 square miles; just 25 square miles smaller than our state’s capital. In just five months, through a special election and runoff, residents sifted through a field of over 70 candidates to select its seven council members and a mayor.

You may have missed this event entirely if you do not subscribe to the South Fulton Neighbor or some social media group that follows South Fulton. With the exception of 11Alive’s news story on my campaign – the result of me badgering every reporter in my phone book – local television news did not report the new city of South Fulton, declining invitations to over 30 town halls and forums held in the last three months alone.

Yet when a toddler was shot in a drive-by shooting in South Fulton’s Pointer Ridge subdivision just two nights after our election, reporters from WSB 2, CBS 46 and Fox5 all came to South Fulton and stayed for hours covering the story.

Anyone watching local news would think South Fulton suffered the highest crime rate in Atlanta. And they would be wrong. That distinction belongs to Buckhead.

However, like the southside of many American cities, the percentage of black and brown residents in South Fulton is far higher than Atlanta’s northside or the producing staff of any of Atlanta’s newsrooms.

The implicit bias of those who “produce” news stories about African-Americans is a well-documented fact. This stereotyping does more than hurt our feelings – it hurts our property values and it hurts our ability to attract employers, new residents and entertainment venues.

The new city of South Fulton is a historic event and a newsworthy one, as evidenced by national coverage from The Nation and The Huffington Post.

If Atlanta’s major news outlets cannot learn to paint a full picture our South Fulton’s humanity, we will be forced to teach them, by creating media outlets of our own and boycotting those only interested in showing us at our worst.


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