Incidentally… News coverage of recent events in the US

It’s a bit depressing as a Canadian to say this, but the people handling the Twitter account for the CBC have been exhibiting for months now, on a weekly basis, a carelessness one doesn’t associate with their fine network. I grew up with the CBC, it taught me how to spell, how to play, everything about hockey, and made me feel like I was part of a community of people that stretched from coast to coast even if I had never gone to other parts of the country. Unfortunately, there is often a blatant disregard for grammar that goes from being comical to at times even bordering on insulting on CBC’s Twitter feed. And yes, grammar does matter. Particularly by the press. And no it doesn’t matter that it’s “only Twitter”, a pathetic excuse I’ve often heard when talking about news outlets on Twitter.  Whether you like them or not, a news organisation with the pedigree and standards that the CBC has should not be making mistakes as often as it does, even on social media.

I’ve started retweeting these tweets, calling them the “CBC Ridiculous Grammar and Photo Tweet of the Week”. For the most part they demonstrate a shocking, stupefying lack of even the basics of elementary school grammar which result in unintentionally comical tweets that are fun to share. But today’s tweet felt different because if you’re aware of what’s been going on in the United States, and I have to assume that the CBC is, you’d have to be quite frankly not very bright (ok, a bumbling idiot) or intentionally and unsuccesfully trying to be witty to not notice their error. I can tell you as someone who lived in the US for a long time and still has family and friends there that this recent tweet’s bad grammar and horribly insensitive photo are insulting. I’ve posted it below. Not because bad grammar in and of itself is insulting (although I do personally think it can be extraordinarily depressing) but because in this case, the failure to notice the grammatical error has painted the title of this article and its tweet as potentially comical which could be taken as inappropriate at a time when this particular wound in American society is very much unhealed, I’d say even exposed, untreated, raw and getting infected to be more precise. It causes a –…laugh…oops, I shouldn’t be laughing at this — reaction and several replies to the tweet mocking the grammar prove that a lot of people have seen the same thing. And then, what exactly is the point of THAT photo with THIS story? That black people are mean and confrontational and white people are innocently just trying to stay out of their way with a smart-ass smirk on their faces? Is there anyone that photo doesn’t offend when tied to this particular story? What may seem like just a dangling modifier speaks to a larger problem by the network of not realising the sensitivity required to properly address this unfortunate news item from yesterday, especially in the midst of recent events in the United States. I don’t care if the story came from Reuters, you’ve got editors. Change that headline.

Come on, CBC News and CBC Social, wake up.cbc

Thinking of March 2nd instead of Rosa Parks and December 1st…

On March 2, 1955 a young black resident of Montgomery, Alabama got on a bus and refused to move to allow a white woman to sit down when no more ‘white seats’ were free. She was spending a lot of time learning about the civil rights movement and it must have been from there that she summoned the strength to say out loud on that bus with enough white people to take up all the ‘white seats’ that “it’s my constitutional right” to stay seated. She continued to shout the same thing as she was handcuffed, arrested, and forcibly removed from the bus.

Three other women had the same experience that year. The fourth one, on December 1st, was Rosa Parks. And yet the name Rosa Parks is probably more familiar to most people than that of the first person from March, Claudette Colvin. In fact, another bus incident isn’t even something people usually know about, much less the four other incidents before Ms. Parks’. Why don’t we talk about Claudette Colvin? Rosa Parks was a woman in her 40s, a seamstress, and had the appearance of a middle-class person. Claudette Colvin was 15, unmarried and pregnant. In the end, while building a case against bus segregation, the NAACP and other organisations they were working with felt Parks was a better face for the cause ignoring entirely Colvin’s heroic first act.

For her bold and daring actions standing for the rights her country claimed to empower her with, Ms. Colvin, clearly a remarkable child, was convicted in juvenile court for disturbing the peace on the bus where she defended those rights. There is nothing unheroic about Ms. Parks’ actions. She, along with several others, helped hold a microphone up to the muffled whispers of people suffering in silence. But in a world where we often champion the pioneer and the ground breaker, Ms. Colvin’s omission from our collective consciousness seems an unjust and insulting tribute.

Miss Colvin lives in New York today, more than 50 years on from her historic albeit forgotten moment. In an interview when describing having been nudged to the side at the time and only having gotten a little credit several years later, she simply said, “I feel like I am getting my Christmas in January rather than the 25th…”

Claudette Colvin, at age 15, around the same time as her arrest.

Claudette Colvin, at age 15, around the same time as her arrest.