What If The Bling Ring Were Black?
The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Malcolm X
While doing my homework reading on cultural biases in society and how do you approach the biases’ that others have on various races and society as a social worker, I turned on Netflix and saw the top ten picks and number 3 was a documentary on the Bling Ring. In 2009 a couple of suburban teenagers from Calabasas created a robbery gang to ransack and steal from elite celebrities in Hollywood. This would later become a movie about their heist.
The documentary piece highlighted two of the members of this click detailing their story of how they collaborated and became this gang of misfits robbing some of Hollywood’s most elite stars such as Orlando Bloom, Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan. The back story tells of two members Nick Prugo and Alexis Neiers painting a picture of their upbringing. When both individuals told their life story, I found that there was no indication of financial or economic struggle, no history of child abuse or homelessness, no reason for them to sink to the debts of burglary and theft.
According to both parties they came from fairly good homes had supportive parents that truly cared about their lives. Further down into the documentary they detail how they got a high from breaking into the homes of stars snatching over millions in jewelry, money and various items. As the story continued to go on, I noticed the callas of disregard for their actions and the smirk of how one of the ringleaders laughed at the fact that he was brazen enough to steal and walk away as if nothing was done wrong.
Further into the documentary the ringleader snitches the rest of the gang out. The trial of this group of thieves was highlighted in news on social media and various internet entities. The court system was utilized as a social media platform for the individuals to draw attention instead of looking at the severity of their actions and crimes. While discussing the break-ins the leader Nick Prugo basically smirked that he and others intentionally set up one of their members to get caught because he was “not as smart as them and Hispanic”. The leader indicated that the police would look for someone like the Hispanic member Roy Lopez because of his race and ignorance.
I tried to turn it off but was compelled to watch how these individuals use the media as a platform to lessen their plea deals, get promotions and various benefits and only serve 3 years of jail time. While watching the show I immediately thought about the Data shows Black men receive harsher punishments than whites for same crimes by 50%.
Watching this made me think of 15-year-old Temar Boogs. In 2013 Temar Boggs track down and saved an abducted girl Five-year-old Jocelyn Rojas from a kidnapper. Rojas was playing in her front yard in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when she vanished. Boggs and another boy followed the abductor and rescued 5-year-old Rojas. Years later Boggs fell on hard times with gangs and peer pressure and detained for his involvement in a robbery and sentenced up to 10 years in prison. Boggs served a small portion of his time and was later released because of an outcry from the community on his behalf. Boggs did in fact go to jail and served 3 years while some of the members of the Bling ring like Prugo only served a year of probation and others received shorter sentence time and even undergone substance abuse treatment instead of prison.
I finished watching the entire documentary to see that each individual went off to start businesses, groups and various things. Watching the documentary was a clear understanding that the prison system, the media and society only aims toward white privilege. There are millions of people of color in mass incarceration serving hard time for small petty crimes and given harsher sentences because of the color of their skin.
We live in an unjust society that looks at color and decides who stays in the prison longer and who gets a slap on the wrist. As each individual took off their mic and walked away Scott free it made me think of Malcolm X quote the media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. This form of power is only given to one specific race while others are left to face the harshness of reality.
All crime is bad crime and crime does not pay but when an act of crime is committed shouldn’t everyone receive the same type of punishment that is just. Are we not all govern to obey the laws of the land.
U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics Race and Ethnicity of Violent Crime Offenders and Arrestees, 2018 (ojp.gov)