Woman Attacked, Held Hostage in Vicious Hate Crime

This is one of those stories that makes you want to grimace, look away, and think about something else. Bill Hutchinson, writing for in today’s NY Daily News, reports on the ordeal of 20-year-old Megan Williams, an African American woman who was held hostage and attacked during a week-long ordeal by six whites. The white racists are not associated with any organized racist group. The six whites included two mothers and their adult sons.

The Daily News’ headline screams “racist sickos” and runs the photos of four, poor, white West Virginians, under arrest. While there’s no denying the sound reporting of the News in this instance — it is no hyperbole to call these people “racist sickos,” but rather a cold, factual description — the juxtaposition of this extreme violent incident, the photos, and the headline confirm the image of what most white people conjure when they hear the term “racist.”

What goes unquestioned in such reporting, however, is the larger context of white racism, what Joe Feagin refers to as the “white racist frame.”

If there is good news in this story, it’s that four of the white attackers are under arrest (two are still being sought), and they will be charged with felony hate crimes. I’m sure that’s small consolation for Megan Williams.