Stop lying; you did it, too.
I’m sure I’m not alone in being among those who—for a brief moment when they heard about the Las Vegas shooting—quietly mumbled to themselves, “Dear God, please don’t let the shooter be black.”
As you’re reading this, someone is typing a variation of the comment “Nah, I knew. Black people don’t roll like that.” I held that same belief until the D.C. Sniper, so I get it, but also remember this:
As you’re reading this, a bitter, white troll is typing a variation of the comment “Yeah, unless someone stepped on a black person’s Jordans at a Kodak Black concert ... ”
We have all collectively held our breath and performed the “Don’t Let Him Be Black” prayer found in the third chapter of the book of
Deuteronomy Doingitwrongtome. It is because we know that the color black is always plural. It is collective. The act of one black person stains us all. Black people’s actions are transferrable and contagious. Blackness is never individual.
The fact that the sins of one become the sins of all is not unique to black people. The deeds of the tiny percentage of Muslim extremists are somehow tattooed onto every single person who practices the peaceful religion of Islam, anyone from the Middle East, and even people not associated with the region or the religion. People have committed hate crimes against Sikhs because idiots believe that anyone wearing a turban must be trying to institute Shariah law.
Our salmon-colored dotard in chief has referred to Mexicans as “rapists.” Steve King, an elected congressman, stands by his 2013 quote when he said this:
There are kids that were brought into this country by their parents unknowing they were breaking the law. And they will say to me and others who defend the rule of law, ‘We have to do something about the 11 million. Some of them are valedictorians.’ Well, my answer to that is…it’s true in some cases, but they aren’t all valedictorians. They weren’t all brought in by their parents. For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.
—Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), July 2013
As you’re reading this, a collection of federal, state and local law-enforcement officers are furiously trying to figure out why Stephen Paddock opened fire on a country music concert from a Las Vegas hotel window. The egregious act has left authorities baffled as to why he mowed down dozens of concertgoers in yet another mass shooting.
Without any proof whatsoever, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has speculated that the mass murderer was mentally ill. Others have reasoned that it was probably the result of the anti-anxiety medication Paddock was taking.
Unlike terrorism, drug arrests, traffic stops, gang-related shootings, or other crimes ascribed to people of certain races, ethnicities or religions, no one has made the case that massacres and mass shootings are almost exclusively the territories of white men.
Between 1982 and 2012, 55.9 percent of the mass shootings in America were committed by white men, according to a detailed list compiled by Mother Jones. Only 16 percent were committed by blacks. But that fact is never mentioned, for one reason:
Individuality is a white privilege.
The singularity of whiteness is the main reason Caucasians object to any mention of racism without “Not all white people.” They do not tolerate the collective whiteness that they simultaneously use to excuse mass incarceration, racial profiling, police brutality and the phrase: “But what about black-on-black crime?”
They live with the advantage of not feeling embarrassed by The Real Housewives of Orange County. They don’t worry about being stopped when driving through an area while police are searching for a Hispanic male suspect. Former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s policy presented no threat to them. The drug war does not affect them. Their daughters are not expelled from school more often when they commit rule infractions.
The privilege of white individuality makes them immune to the school-to-prison pipeline, mass incarceration, Transportation Security Administration searches, school underfunding, banks charging higher interest rates, employers eliminating them because of the name on their résumés, or the countless other presuppositions that blacks, Hispanics and Muslims live with every day.
It must be nice.
It must be nice to walk into a high-end store and not raise suspicion. To live in whichever neighborhood you can afford must feel like freedom. Walking around carefree with a machine gun on your shoulder without law-enforcement officers challenging your constitutional rights is probably so empowering. I can’t imagine what it feels like not having to show the whites of your teeth and make an announcement before you slowly reach for a driver’s license. When a white child leaves home in the family car, do Caucasian parents watch the front doorknob until their child returns home without a bullet in his or her head?
If this is too intense for you, let’s pause for a joke from a friend who works as a criminal-defense attorney, which she says was told to her by a white circuit court judge:
Question: What do you call a white criminal?
Answer: Somone who deserves a second chance.
Question: What do you call a black criminal?
Answer: A thug.
Someone who neds to be taken off the streets.
Prisoner No. 10294842
That is the privilege they live with. When they don pink pussy hats and march for women, they aren’t considered part of some “hate group.” When a white criminal shoots a cop, it’s not because of White Lives Matter. White criminals are not “thugs.” White school shooters are “troubled.”
When they protested Justine Damond’s death by cop, they weren’t castigated for being anti-cop. When they talk about the decline of our country, it is never viewed as “un-American” or “disrespectful.” When they say we need to “make America great again,” no one told them to “go back to Europe.”
That’s because whiteness is the default in this America. That is why the phrase “white people” is offensive to them. “White” exists only in the singular form. They do not have to navigate a world where the color of their skin predetermines their credit, their employment, their education, their criminality or even their ability to breathe.
Even in the instances when they commit an atrocity that is most commonly perpetrated by white men, even when experts and analysts break their necks searching for a motive, their invisible entitlement excuses them from having to join a collective, impromptu prayer circle. The privilege of white individuality prevents anyone from expressing the most logical, statistically correct reason for their motive:
Because they are white.