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A vigil is held for Richard Collins III at Bowie State University. He was stabbed to death at the University of Maryland campus this past weekend and was due to graduate from Bowie State this week. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video)

Respectfully, please be more careful when writing about whether or not an African American victim of a hate crime is or is not a "thug" ("Police, FBI investigating University of Maryland killing as possible hate crime," May 21). The thug/not thug narrative is often propounded in the context of examining whether a person of color deserved to be shot and killed by police, or by a member of public who may or may not have feared for their safety such as George Zimmerman.

I understand the temptation to convey the message that the person who was killed was a good person, but he or she need not have been a saint for their murder to matter or for it to be classified as a hate crime. Insisting on model minorities or "innocent" victims lends fuel to the victim-blaming fire when a person who is murdered in a hate crime or by law enforcement is less than perfect, has a record, grew up under terrible circumstances or found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Please, please choose your quotes more carefully.

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Suzanne Summerlin, Cheverly

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