Brandon Lincoln Woodard — father, son and friend — is dead. The darling of a successful, affluent African-American family was executed in broad daylight in midtown Manhattan during the height of the holiday season and according to family members, all his distraught mother can ask is, “When is my son coming home?”

But he’s not coming home. He’s not.

Just as Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis didn’t come home, Brandon Woodard will never make it home again.

Of course, the stories are vastly different worlds apart. The horrific crimes above were not organized hits – as is suspected of Woodard’s murder – rather they were acts of hatred committed in a society organized so that the murders of innocent black men and boys go unpunished.

The erosive racism at play here cannot be found within the construct of the crime itself. In the case of Brandon Woodard, the racism emanates from the media as clearly as George Zimmerman spewing the word “coon” on a 911 tape.

Every sketchy detail of Woodard’s past has been shared under salacious headlines. Throw in an accomplished actress with a publicized vendetta against his mother, accusations of mortgage fraud, rap sheets and cocaine use, wrap it all in the word “rapper,” and the thick pot of controversy quickly begins to bubble over into the kind of story that scorches the headlines for weeks as it continues to build up steam.

Yes, it seems that the made for Hollywood plot is fair game for tabloid fodder, but as headline after headline, story after story scavenges for dirt about the so-called “aspiring L.A. rapper” the underlying rationale of his murder seems to be a familiar refrain:

“Oh, well, that explains that. He was a thug.”

The coverage of Woodard’s death continues the trend of vilifying black victims. George Zimmerman’s violent history — and arrest record — was kept under lock and key, while Trayvon’s school suspension and alleged marijuana use became front page news. Former NYPD Officer Richard Haste chased  down 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, illegally kicked his way into his grandmother’s house and murdered him in cold blood; yet the fact that Graham had a bag of weed and a record is considered news, and more importantly, by many it is considered justification.

In each of these instances, racial code words have been sprinkled throughout coverage not meant to examine the magnitude of these deaths, but to minimize them. And as different as the circumstances of each case may be, the perpetuation of the narrative of black men as thugs affiliated with drugs, violence and Hip-Hop culture — as if the three are somehow interchangeable, always finds a way to take center stage.

Brandon Woodard was a college educated man pursuing a law degree when he was gunned down at 31-years-old. He was not Tupac or Biggie. He death does not embody Hip-Hop culture; Hip-Hop culture is not defined by drug deals and murder; and drug deals and murder are not manifestations of the Black experience.

And no matter how much that lie is shoved down our throats, most of us are smarter than that.

While it may be important for authorities to discover Woodard’s past and current associations to better understand who may have wanted him dead, media has no such motivation. By framing this case first around Hip-Hop, then around drugs, many outlets are purposely putting a culture on trial and finding it guilty before the first arguments have even been heard.

And in Los Angeles, like so many cities across the country, a grieving mother waits for a son that is never coming home.

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  • Jasmine

    So when a black women is murdered; dehumanize her, blame her for the actions of her murderer, blame guns, the 2nd amendment, domestic violence, and mental illness.

    When a black man is murdered: don’t blame the victim, question the circumstances, assume innocence, play the race card, and include only the most uplifting circumstances of his life to prove that his death was senseless.

    As an expat who relies on to keep me posted on whats good in the USA, I’ve been really disappointed in the reckless way that that this site handles the lives and well being of Black Women. I’ll keep reading in hopes that things will turn around.

    • Beautiful Mic

      Absolutely not – just be logical and don’t generalize.

      In this specific case, Woodard was killed because he was an illegal drug courier who underpaid his supplier and was killed as a result.

  • dawn

    Wow….reading these comments really saddens me.. i guess all these bloggers never did anything wrong in their life. smh..just because he sold drugs dont mean that he’s a menace to society.(Not saying that it’s right) but,WHO ARE WE TO JUDGE..
    Linsey Lohan did everything under the sun plus she is known to be and hang around thugs And She Still Makes Movies. I hope his family dosen’t read this stuff

    • victoria

      I do think if you sell drugs then by definition you are a menace to society.

      You stated, ”..i guess all these bloggers (commentors) never did anything wrong in their life.” Yes, we all have and we all continue to do so. But if we deal with elements of society that are destructive, it should be expected that people we not praise it, but call it what it is…a destructive lifestyle. Dawn, if you have children, I hope you use this as an opportunity to discuss with them how certain decisions will have negative consequences. This is not about judging, but about making it clear that poor decisions have negative consequences..

    • lol

      smh at Dawn, no wonder black folk are at the bottom.

  • TommyG

    So Brandon was in town visiting his sick Grandmother? It is unclear why he was here, and it doesnt sound good soo far.The media is fully aware of the slant of theyre reporting, all they are doing now is reporting the facts. I dont think they are omitting anything?.

  • The real chosen people (Blacks)

    @smh at Dawn, no wonder black folk are at the bottom.
    Blacks are on the bottom, due to 400 years of slavery and a lifetime of injustice. who cares about being at the bottom of this world, this is the devils world! When Gods world is ushered in that will change. Read the story of Joseph.