Let’s Talk About That ‘Dark-Skinned Male’ Report

by Yesha Callahan

Over night, all hell broke loose in Boston. One police officer was killed, an alleged bombing suspect was killed, and authorities are still on the hunt for the second suspect. But guess what, neither of these suspects are “dark-skinned” men.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

The images above are from “suspected” terrorist brothers hailing from Chechnya, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The Associated Press is reporting that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed overnight.  And the manhunt for Dzhokhar continues.

What amazed me about the reporting from anchors such as CNN’s John King, was the blatant tone when they referred to the suspects as “dark-skinned”.

“I was told by one of these sources, who is a law enforcement official, that this was a dark-skinned male,” he said of the supposed suspect in the case.

Every dark-skinned man, regardless of ethnicity, in the Boston area was probably profiled. And don’t let that dark-skinned man to be of Middle Eastern decent, god only knows how many of them felt “watched” and considered a suspect.

Even journalists and political talking heads took an issue with the dark-skinned comments:

“Disturbing that it’s OK for TV to ID a Boston bombing suspect only as ‘a dark-skinned individual,” Gwen Ifill tweeted.

During his show, “PoliticsNation”, Al Sharpton had an issue with the dark-skinned comment:

“Dark-skinned male?” Sharpton asked. “Coded, offensive language.”

“These comments are very offensive,” Sharpton said. “They have no place in our discourse.”

“What King’s words did is to make every dark-skinned male in Boston a suspect, and that’s shameful,” Sharpton concluded.

Even after news heads realized the suspects in fact weren’t dark-skinned, they still tried to figure out their nationality, because god forbid these were actually white men committing terrorist acts, because that never happens. Timothy McVeigh. 

So let the record state, in post-racial America, assumptions about terrorists will always have to do with how dark their skin color is and their ethnicity, even though we all know, before 9/11 there were a bunch of white people running around committing just as many acts of terrorism on U.S. soil. So now that we know the two men in question aren’t dark-skinned, the next obvious thing to do is to focus on their religion.




  • Nicoline

    Two bombs were set off. Were human. Were susceptible to stereotypes so a lot of people immediately thought terrorist (especially being that its two bombs and how they were placed). We keep going with the stereotype which means its probably a arabic male (who practices Islam). Most of the news reporters are white. They describe any one darker then them dark-skinned. Its not right but thats just how people think.


    The scene was so chaotic maybe a witness of the scene thought they saw a dark skinned male acting suspicious and possibly left the bombs.

    Ultimately they were dark-skinned but its life. All humans make assumptions and take part in stereotyping (even if you think you don’t, you do!) Its not right and we should all make a conscious effort not to do these two things but its human nature.

  • Marisa

    If I had a dollar for everybody that was wrongfully deemed a suspect for this by the media, I would be able to pay for all my student loans ASAP. The media went out of their way to NOT say the word WHITE but went with any description that sounded like a minority. First Unfortunate Person #1 the Saudi kid who was injured they harassed declaring him a suspect supposedly under guard. Unfortunate #2 Saudi kid of a darker hue who was a runner the NY Post trash paper here in NYC plastered him all over the cover, all that dude did was finish the race to watch the rest of it in the crowd when it wasn’t him.

    Unfortunate #3 was a dark skinned with an accent Ethiopian student and Unfortunate #4 is a missing Indian Brown University student missing since last month that the cops and the internet declared was the bomber then had to backtrack something serious. Turns out its two brothers from Russia born right in the Caucus mountains cant get whiter than that. One of the suspect still alive the picture of him and that bag is right near the family of lil Martin Richard as they watched. I hope they take him alive let him face his actions, his brother got out easy he’s dead.

  • Mademoiselle

    These two are WHITE. Not dark-skinned anything. WHITE Russians who look no different than many WHITE Americans. Stereotypes, my a$$. This was journalistic fear mongering at the expense of every minority on the planet. They might as well had posted “White people, run for your lives. Another darky with a grudge is on the loose. And we know this because white is always right.” God forbid they keep their mouths shut before they actually get confirmed information from law enforcement. Then they’d have to admit that WHITE people are just as capable and screwed up enough to be as heinous as the next Middle Easterner, Muslim/Non-Christian, African-descent, South Asian, or sub-Equatorial human being. The fact that authorities hadn’t even confirmed whether it was a domestic or foreign attack yet should’ve precluded them from assuming the suspects profile — at a minimum. Naming a “dark-skinned” suspect wasn’t a stereotype when so much of the world falls in that category; it was absolution of white people from being profiled, and it was disgusting.

  • Marisa

    Google the names Charles Stuart and Susan Smith for starters and see just how dangerous that thinking that you say is human nature. The media and cops are in charge of putting of factual information and I don’t give a damn if their are all mostly white and have whatever personal bias. Their jobs are not to put out and information that is helpful to the public not to further egg on racial tensions. We have here in the Bronx were I live and other cities middle eastern people have been assaulted just from that first so called description from the media and police sources. Charles Stuart in Boston shot his pregnant wife and himself blamed black kids and the cops ran through black neighborhoods turning it upside down looking for every black guy around young and old. Boston damn near imploded especially when the truth came out.

    Susan Smith of my home state drowned her toddler sons in her car and said a black guy did it with some generic composite and once again cops turned up black communities there even when cops early on had suspicions of Susan herself but, was still willing to interrogate the black community anyway. You cant just put out any old info like this and go oops my bad and go on your way, there are serious ramifications that other people suffer with.

  • Mademoiselle

    Yes to everything you wrote!

  • Child, Please

    “So now that we know the two men in question aren’t dark-skinned, the next obvious thing to do is to focus on their religion.” –> So funny this was mentioned because an ABC on-site reporter mentioned that they weren’t Muslim…because only those that don’t follow traditional white Christian values commit such crimes and thus there must be something “else” wrong with them. What made it worst is he mentioned they were Muslim, but immediately corrected himself. That makes me think that (while it could be an honest mistake) he’s been conditioned think that Muslims are terrorists and it’s natural for them to be, even though since Columbine and the age of the serial killer (BTK was Methodist, I believe and Ted Bundy regularly attended church) that’s been proven otherwise.

  • http://gravatar.com/swissblackberries victoria

    Im an African American living in Europe. In Europe, blacks aren’t only those of African descent. People from many Asian, Middle Eastern, Euro Asian, and African nations are considered black or dark skinned. White Russians call Chechnyans black. People from Sri Lanka are black. Middle Easterners are dark skinned. So as an American who only considers people of African descent as black, I have to get use to the terminology in Europe. That being said, if I heard the term dark skinned used in Amerca, I will assume it means black because I’ve only heard it used towards black people not Middle Easterners or Asians

  • Kristin T

    To me the killers ARE dark skinned. How would you have described them? “These two people,maybe male, or female, with skin in the range of not fair and not super dark,…. Please humor me with YOUR description.

  • Yb

    In American I think the term dark skinned is usually used toward black people when something is negative.

    When describing a criminal or unsavory person, dark skinned means black.

    When referring to an esteemed character in a book or the term “tall, dark, and handsome” people try their best to disassociate this from blacks, and then think of any other group as dark skinned.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    John King needs to reveal his source so we can go to that person and try to figure out why he/she passed that false info onto King.

  • Kristin T

    They LIVED in Russia but they are NOT Russian. Read ALL of the information before making juvenile incorrect comments! To me they are DARK, sorry. Maybe we should have an official COLOR chart to refer to.

  • Just a thought

    Should we be surprised about any of this, its history in repeat… http://vigilantcitizen.com/vigilantreport/the-end-of-april-the-most-magickal-time-of-the-year/

  • Yb

    “They LIVED in Russia but they are NOT Russian.”

    -__- Please read what you typed before you post. These two men look no different then many Russians. These men are white. FACT. Get over it. They may not be Anglo-Saxon, but they are white European nonetheless.

    The world could less if YOU think they are dark. Your opinion is irrelevant. Fact is they are not. Pick up a box of crayons and learn your primary colors.

  • Rue

    It’s code for Arab like urban is code for black

  • ImJustSaying

    let’s talk about how according to ABC News, the suspects “had an interest in hip hop music” as if that had anything to do with them bombing innocent people.

  • apple

    white people so thirsty for them not to be white its sad.. now they like “they not white they russian” .. oh?and i’m done with cnn trying to pull up ride between calling them muslim and then saying “well (if) they russian,thats where they are from is a fact not the reason why” IF MUHAMMED/TYRONE/CARLOS was out there with a bomb yall would be like they are soulless creatures who want to destroy america

  • aedivine

    exactly. when the pictures were released there was no way anyone would have assumed they were african-American. this is all about demonizing muslims…again.

  • Deb

    Also, CISPA was just passed by The House of Reps. Off to the Senate. Welp.

  • Deb

    I’m done with watching any of TV news especially during events like this that develop rapidly and facts are still not known. it’s just a waste of time and infuriating to watch. I just wait till the smoke has cleared and then watch here and there because by that time it is all sensationalism. Really don’t trust major news outlets all anymore actually.

  • nick

    We are way to PC in this country.

  • Rue.

    Don’t you know that those damn rap artists are responsible for everything bad? They even control the world economy through the Illuminati!

  • AltheaG

    You must be white or one of those people of color that are drinking the “post-racial” kool-aid

  • Treece

    @Kristin T,

    The two brothers ARE in fact Russian….they were born in Russia and later moved to Kazhakstan (sp?) with thier family. They don’t look like typical White Americans, but they are Russian and of Caucasian decent.

    It angers me that people want to try and “un-White” these suspects as much as possible. No way possible that anyone White could’ve possibly done this without some ties to Islam or Middle eastern/North African connections. I’ve been watching the news and keeping up online with the latest developments in this situation all morning and the news reporters are grilling thier classmates and people who used to know them left and right. Asking “Did they hate America?” , “Did they ever use hateful speech against America?”, “Did they have any ties that you know of to Islam?”. No, no, and no are the answers that they are getting because the oldest one came here on student visa (the younger one with his family). The suspect they are still looking for went to HS here, was a “good” kid for all intensive purposes, was a team leader in wrestling, was likable, etc. In other words, he blended right in and White America can’t handle that sh**! It pisses them off in a different way than if these bombers were from some other ethnic group. If they are White (even Russian) they must have been influenced by someone “other”. They have also used this to fuel thier tirade against immigrant people as a whole. “See, see what happens when you start letting foreigners in!” Bunch of wacka-doos…….

  • BeanBean

    Hummm, mighty white looking dark skinned people if you ask me. If those guys are ‘dark skinned’, well I must be dang invisible at night then.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Right! Even TMZ has a post-up saying the same thing of how they were heavily into hip hop music…like what does that have to do with anything? But honestly, I’ am not surprise because the media tries to do everything to “un-white” a suspect. And even when the suspect is undeniably white they try to de-humanize them or make them a victim of circumstances saying stuff like he was a monster, a victim of circumstances or the go to excuse they had a mental illness. The media is a joke!

  • http://gravatar.com/patsfaith patsfaith

    My mind went straight to Susan Smith’s crazy accusations. I was thinking America is still blaming the black man. The difference is we knew Susan Smith was lying. We just couldn’t believe a woman would appear without a scratch or a bruise as a result from your children being abducted. We knew something wasn’t right with her.

    With all these nationwide massive random shootings, I think this reporter didn’t want to group these brothers with White America. This may be farfetched, but who mostly run marathons? Now your own kind is wreaking havoc there as well. You can’t send your kids to school, college, go to the movies, and people can’t participate in a marathon?! Similar to the mindset of Susan Smith not wanting ANYONE to think she could (a mother?!!!) drown her own kids. These acts are just too horrendous to have been committed by their own kind. As far as this act of violence, it’s the perfect scapegoat to say a “dark-skinned male” bc this description does cover a middle eastern as well. Also, it sends the message “don’t panic – we have this situation under control”. The sooner you can point a finger at a (believable) target, the better.

    I will admit fear crept up in me—I was beginning to think I couldn’t participate in my little 5ks.It is soo scary, but I can’t stop living. It’s a shame that this happened and also that men of color are still being associated as the assumed suspects of crimes and calamity.

  • http://ladyngo.blogspot.com Lady Ngo

    The funny thing is now that we know they are “dark-skinned”, they STILL aren’t being reported as any type of white either. Half the reports i’ve read are calling them “light-skinned”. Not even fair, light-skinned!. Never in my life have i ever heard of a white person (or any non-black person really) be referenced as light skinned.

  • Marisa

    You righ with white suspects their quick to go with the mental illness route or in the case of these two brothers oh they got their mindset from some other country not here lol. As if they don’t remember today is 18 years ago another one of not one of theirs Tim McVeigh blew up that federal building with that daycare center full of babies right near it. We know why Susan and Charles picked black people just like the one in Washington State OLD ACID FACED HEFFA did. Its easier for whites to digest plain others being violent and evil except them. Notice when people thought a black woman was the suspect in OLD ACID FACE HEFFA case lawd the vitriol online even on black blogs dogging out black women was disgusting.

    They said the suspect should be killed, shot, dragged through the streets and black women are so jealous of white women and their looks. Then when OLD ACID FACED HEFFA had to fess up with the truth that she lied, girl here came all the she’s mentally ill and needs help not ridicule apologists but, wait the alleged acid thrower wasn’t considered mentally ill. Then there was a copy cat attack and a black woman in AZ did have acid thrown on her because of what happened to the fake in Washington. So this idea they can just throw out minority descriptions and if they get it wrong oh well is a dangerous practice.

  • The Comment

    I gave you a thumbs up because I agree with you that whenever people think of terrorist–they assume it is someone from Iran, Afghanistan,Pakistan,Ethopia, Sudan. And someone wiht dark skin.

    Many people are unaware that there is a huge population of (white) muslims from the Caucasus. And like any religion/custom–there are extremeist who wish death to America. Not saying that is the case with these two. You never know.

    It’s gonna trip white people out to imagine that people with blond hair and blue eyes have more in common with those int he Middle East than in Europre or America.

    So this is when chit get real cause white people have forgivin their cutural beefs with each other in order to create this Western Empire.
    Mila Kunas, Gwenth Paltrow and Sarah Jessica Parker all benefit from white privilege. Mila is from Ukrain and Paltrow’s is a Jew. Although Wikipedia states they are American Actors…little under a 70 years ago there was a Jewish Holocaust in Ukrain. But I’m sure the ladies don’t bring up history. To busy shoping in the same luxury establishments together without regrets.

    John King just got caught out there. But everyone is thinking the same thing.

  • JS

    Girl, yes, you better tell em! +10000

  • The Comment

    Elvis!!!!! *tears*

    I swear all of Clutch readers are the funniest people on earth. Ya’ll need to get together and write a tv show.

  • Nina

    Kristin T, I would describe them as white since they are.

  • Nina

    Kristin T: you might want to do a bit of reading. They are the very definition of Caucasians. I guess no one wants to claim them. Sorry, but they are white.

  • Gloria P.

    They’re Chechen, not Russian, and they’re obviously not light-skinned. Chechens basically look like Iranians. Please, you’re just making us look ignorant.

  • Misty_Moonsilver

    Russian=white. If this was a guy from Africa, they’d be calling him black. But in this case Russian is Russian. Not white. Double standards, media bias. Its nothing new. We aren’t doing much by getting upset over it. All we can do is correct them.

  • Gloria P.

    They aren’t Russian, they’re _Chechen_. You realize that Russia is the largest country on earth and contains dozens of different ethnicities, right?

  • Nadell

    (not so related to the article)
    I find it baffling that every film that comes out with a ‘terrorism in America’ theme consistently portrays the terrorists as either Middle Eastern, Arabic, Saudi, Afghan, Asian, Korean, Jamaican, Rastafarian, Cuban, Kenyan (you get the point — every group or race of people with melanin) as the perpetrators. I have yet to watch a film that tells of the true, factual terrorists that have done the deed on American soil in recent years at such an alarming rate. White males or white male Americans.
    The only time in which the dominant terrorists are brought to light in film is in retrospect – slavery->Jim Crow era->civil rights. The facts are as plain as day. American terror as of late has been via American white males.

  • Mademoiselle

    So… they’re not white, they’re white. Got it.

  • Gloria P.

    They’re only white if you consider Arabs white.

  • Flash

    Chechnya is made up of EUROPEAN WHITE CAUCASIANS not Arabric, some of them may not look like your average western anglo-saxon white that you know, but they are WHITE European, sorry there is no way to get out of it, so just accept it.

  • Mademoiselle

    Gloria, does it hurt your back to reach so far to call these boys anything other than WHITE? If the media had not revealed their names and origins, these boys would look like your average WHITE Greek, WHITE Romanian, or WHITE Italian descendants (all of whom are known for their tanner white skin and curly brunette hair). If you look at photos of their aunt, uncle, and father who have been on the news all week, you’ll see they’re family look like your average WHITE Russians. If you’re going to reach over 2,000 miles to associate these boys with Saudi Arabia, you might as well go the distance and compare them to West Africans. We all know the point is to blacken them up to prove their problem isn’t a WHITE problem. So don’t short change them on crayons — color them all the way in and keep the cycle of WHITE absolution going.

  • Fantastico

    @Gloria P.

    It’s not dumb to call them white, it just forgoes the hegemony you so willingly accept.

  • http://gravatar.com/sealinewuman sealinewumanwuman

    @Gloria P.

    Please go a call a Persian (Irani) an Arab. Tell me how that ends for you. You’re making yourself look ignorant. Or rather, just proving it to the world.

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