Saturday, August 24, 2013

Oh But This Black Lady Looked At Me Funny Once, So...

Yesterday Bardiac linked an excellent Upworthy video, which you may already have seen, illustrating white privilege and what can be done to combat it.

(Here it is if you haven't seen it.)

I liked it so much I linked it on my FB page.

Whereupon one of my students watched it and commented (promptly) that the exact same thing had happened to him, except, see, he had been the only white guy in a black grocery store, and the black clerk had been very mean to him, plus all the black people in line had been mean to him too, but he hadn't whined about it, because the way to solve racism was for everyone to just stop talking about it.

About 90 comments later (not just me, but several other people trying to explain to him what he was getting wrong here) I just gave up.

This is my new policy, by the way: there are people who want to understand, who want to learn, and there are people who are determined not to understand -- they do not, in other words, want to learn anything new.  They are not engaging you to hear anything, but to yell their own words louder and louder.  Once you have identified the second category, there's no real point in talking at them anymore.

Anyway!  My point!  And I do have one.

The people who are determined to make a comparison between the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the shooting of Christopher Lane fall, I have got to believe, into the second category.

Because, seriously, how can anyone who is self-aware and thinking critically not see a difference between these two shootings?

(1) In Florida, a stand-your-ground state, George Zimmerman chases down and shoots Trayvon Martin, on what seems to a lot of people a very dicey excuse.  The police barely question him, do not charge him, and do nothing until overwhelming national media exposure force the state to file charges. Further, Martin is a black teenager; Zimmerman is a white-identifying adult male, with all the white privilege that accrues to that. In other words, all of the racist history of our country comes down on Zimmerman's side. All around the country, conservatives and others rush to Zimmerman's defense.  All around the country, conservatives immediately begin attacking Martin -- portraying him as a thug and a criminal who deserved to die. (This behavior, by the way, continues to this day.) Any progressive who argues that maybe shooting a child on his way home from a convenience store is a crime is called an idiot -- for instance, I personally was called an idiot for suggesting Martin was a child.  (My kid is fifteen and if in two years she was to be shot down in the street by someone, believe me, I would consider that shooting a child.)

(2) Two black kids and a white kid in Oklahoma shoot down a white Australian jogger for what seems to a lot of people a horrific reason -- reports say it was the kids claim they did it because they were bored.  Given Oklahoma's reputation for God & Guns, people worldwide are ready to believe that Oklahoma's culture probably has something to do with why these kids behave this way.  The kids are immediately arrested, charged, and kept in custody.  All over Conservative blogosphere this is at once widely reported as three blacks (or other racial terms) shooting a white man -- even before any races of the kids are released, this is what is being reported -- and once the actual races of the kids are released, very few Conservative sites correct themselves.

Worse, of course, nearly every single Conservative insists this is "Just like Trayvon!"  Because -- well, why?  Because these kids didn't get charged?  Because the progressive sites are rallying around them and calling them heroes?  Because progressive sites are hunting through the jogger's life and finding ways to criminalize him and make him a thug and say he deserved to die for jogging through that neighborhood? "Those kids had a right to protect themselves!" Because there are 450 years of white joggers getting lynched and shot down and killed in Oklahoma and the black legal establishment doing nothing about it?

Yeah.  It's exactly the same.


Bardiac said...

Tragedies for each of their families, for sure, but you're absolutely right that Trayvon Martin's murder was much more related to the systemic violence of whites against people of color.

And what the heck is it with young men needing to act violent against others, anyway? We need to do something about men's violence!

J. Otto Pohl said...

Zimmerman is Latino not white under US racial classifications. His mother was from Peru.

delagar said...

Bardiac, I was talking to my kid about that very point -- young male violence. WTF?