(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/08/Race-Riots.jpg)In the Soviet Union censored news stories were pieced together and redistributed as Samizdat. While we don’t live in a totalitarian society, Colin Flaherty’s “White Girl Bleed a Lot” is a Samizdat of censored news stories about black violence gathered from scraps of journalistic efforts from the official press and events compiled from new media through online comments, videos and tweets.
The censored racial violence that first began to trickle through the official narrative in tales of flash mobs is the topic of “White Girl Bleed a Lot” which goes where the mainstream news media doesn’t dare to go. Its story is the familiar one of a violence that everyone knows exists anecdotally, but can rarely point to in written form. “White Girl Bleed a Lot” takes that story beyond the anecdotal urban horror tale and the occasional news report to compile a comprehensive look at the rising phenomenon.
“White Girl Bleed a Lot” moves around the United States from coast to coast following a winding trail of flash mobs and wilding incidents, of closemouthed news stories written to hide the real story and raw videos that hide nothing at all. But above all else Flaherty follows the troubled currents of the great American river of denial. That river which runs through all channels of the mainstream media is what makes “White Girl Bleed a Lot” both necessary and possible.
Flaherty, an experienced journalist, is doing the job that the mainstream media refuses to do, and “White Girl Bleed a Lot” is as much about a white media’s culture of silence on black violence as it is about the violence itself. As Flaherty writes in an email to one member of the mainstream media, it is the denial that he finds to be more of a story than the actual racial mob violence that he chronicles.
Operating in a post-media environment, Colin Flaherty’s sources are more likely to be LiveLeak video clips and gang member tweets than official news items and when he does use mainstream media news items, then he dissects them for between-the-lines reporting on what the media is leaving out. Page by page and byte by byte, “White Girl Bleed a Lot” collects these disparate sources together, combining the new media and the old, to form an evolving snapshot of censored violence and the nationwide reactions to it.
Though issued in print form, “White Girl Bleed a Lot” lives best in ebook form where it is closest to its digital roots, where its links can be organically followed and the videos that serve as chilling proof of the events that it describes can be viewed live. Already on its fourth edition, the press of daily news stories seems doomed to drive it through many more editions still.
“White Girl Bleed a Lot” does not pretend to offer answers, what it does is make the culture of denial that much more difficult to sustain by collecting evidence. This is not a book of conclusions, it’s a book of testimony, a piercing look at a nationwide tragedy trimmed with sardonic commentary on the lengths to which the political establishments of major cities and the media personalities who hover over AM radio microphones and sit gravely in front of television cameras go to conceal the truth.
While other books offer sociological and political explanations, Colin Flaherty’s big picture is not composed of theory, but of reality. “White Girl Bleed a Lot” lives not in the elevated arcane heights of the ivory tower, but in the hard truth of the concrete curb speckled with dark red drops of blood from last night’s assault. This is not a book for theorists; it is a book for realists who want a map of the violence, rather than a plan for making it go away.
“White Girl Bleed a Lot” breaks down the violence by region, focusing in on cities such as Chicago and New York where the violence and the cover-ups have both become endemic, and by niche victim groups, including black-on-Asian violence and black-on-gay violence. Defenders of diversity may blacklist any mention of black violence in the name of diversity, but Colin Flaherty shows that while the attackers are not particularly diverse, their victims are.
The locations that “White Girl Bleed a Lot” takes us to are as diverse as the victims. From the inner cities to Rehoboth Beach and Peoria, variations on the same story repeat themselves with flash mobs, bloody fists and prone victims showing up in even the most unexpected places. And when the ambulances pull away, then the media and politicians do their part to clean up the scene and pretend that nothing has ever happened. The responses of both politicians and victims, inside and outside the black community, form a large part of Colin Flaherty’s narrative.
“White Girl Bleed a Lot” is an important entry into the debate over whether black racial violence exists and whether it should be reported on. While the debate continues, the book breaks through the barriers of censorship and transcends the anecdotal for a raw snapshot of cities under siege and a nation in denial. That denial is the true target of the book and the closest that it comes to a call to action is its campaign against that culture of denial.
Juneteenth, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day; as the summer months pass so do the holidays of violence. The explosions don’t end with the summer when the thunder from the last of the fireworks has died away and the beaches are cold and empty, but they do intensify when the summer comes to the city, the temperatures climb and the thermometers turn red. “White Girl Bleed a Lot” is not a beach read, but for many it may be a matter of personal safety. It may be the book to read for those who want to make it home from their next trip to the beach.
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