When I first saw the headline at NBC News, my heart went out to the hapless victim of a thoughtless act. I was heartened to learn that the man was suing. But then I read the lede paragraph and immediately recognized that the the network had different fish to fry. Here it is:
Emory Ellis, a black homeless man in Boston, was hungry so he went to Burger King one morning in 2015. But instead of breakfast, Ellis got a ride to the police station and more than three months in jail after he was wrongfully accused of using counterfeit cash, he says.
The mention of the man’s skin color in the first sentence (a detail that likely would have been omitted had the story instead been about, for example, two Georgia teens who killed an opossum and her babies for kicks) is your first clue that the article is not really about an indingnity suffered by a homeless man — at least not only about that. It’s about the perceived inequality in the way society treats people of color as opposed to people of pallor.
The second paragraph reinforces this idea, noting:
The lawsuit comes on the heels of recent cases of police being called on black people that have sparked uproar and claims of racial profiling.
The reference obviously is to the incident that occurred last month in a Philadelphia Starbucks in which two black men who appeared to be loitering were asked to leave — first by the clerk, later by the police, who were summoned — and, when they refused, were arrested. Despite the fact the clerk (who was subsequently identified by a regular customer as an “SJW feminist of the highest order”) was fired, the story remained in the headlines for weeks.
The story then as now was that this wouldn’t have happened had the customer been white. In the case of the homeless man, his attorney, Justin Drechsler, is quoted as saying that “the cashier likely wouldn’t have questioned if the money was real if a white man in a suit handed him the same bill.” But what makes the complaint disingenuous is Drechsler’s inclusion of the phrase in a suit. Surely Drechsler is aware that a black man dressed in business a suit would have been accorded the same benefit of the doubt.
I still hope that Ellis wins his case. Homeless people already have enough in life to contend with without being hauled off to jail for the crime of being hungry. But can we please stop injecting race into every news story?