Who is Luke Gatti?
Luke Gatti is a 19-year-old student at the University of Connecticut.
Do you know anything else about him?
He’s quite possibly the biggest bacon-jalapeño mac and cheese enthusiast in the country. You do not love anything—your kids, your parents, your spouse, Serge Ibaka, etc.—more than Luke Gatti loves bacon-jalapeño mac and cheese. Let me put it this way: Remember that 50 Cent song “21 Questions,” and that line “I love you like a fat kid loves cake”? Well, throw that line in the trash because Luke Gatti just created a new standard. Forget fat kids and cake; you want your mate to love you “like Luke Gatti loves bacon-jalapeño mac and cheese.”
How do you know so much about his feelings toward bacon-jalapeño mac and cheese?
Last week a video emerged featuring Gatti drunkenly screaming at, insulting, assaulting and spitting on a campus cafeteria manager who wouldn't allow him to enter the cafeteria to eat some bacon-jalapeño mac and cheese. Gatti was subdued and eventually arrested, but not before pushing the manager several times, calling him a “f—king fag,” giving him the finger, belittling his profession and, again, spitting in his face.
Earlier this week Gatti released a video apologizing for his actions, stating, “I’ve got some problems that I am addressing. This was seriously the wake-up call.”
OK, so we’ve established who Luke Gatti is and how he came to be known as the biggest bacon-jalapeño mac and cheese enthusiast in the country. How exactly, though, is this an example of white privilege? He’s definitely an a—hole, but I don’t see him in the video doing anything particularly racist.
If Gatti were black and acted the same way he did in that video, I’m 99.9999999 percent sure we would not have seen an apology video.
Why not? Black kids don’t apologize?
One thing with recording an apology video is that you should probably be alive while doing it.
And if Gatti were black and had acted the same way he did in that video, I have some doubts about whether he would have made it out of the cafeteria alive. And walking with two unbroken legs and an intact spleen. And not too comatose to record and release an apology video.
The police would have killed him? How do you know that for sure?
I don’t. I just know that if “laughing on a wine train while black,” “staring while black” and “standing in front of a luxury hotel while black” have recently been proved to be arrestable offenses, then “drunkenly assaulting, insulting, fighting and spitting on a bunch of white cafeteria workers on a college campus while black” is probably worth the death penalty.
But let’s say Gatti isn’t killed by the police. There’s no way in hell he’s a free man today, and definitely (definitely!) not still allowed to be enrolled at UConn. Especially when he’s been arrested before for similar offenses.
So, the police and the campus workers consciously treated him differently because he was white? I don’t buy that.
I’m not saying that. I’m sure the police and the cafeteria workers weren’t consciously thinking, “This is a white kid, so let’s make sure to be patient and professional with him.” It’s more about the leeway he was given. Part of white privilege is having the expectation of being treated with at least a modicum of kindness and respect, even if you don’t deserve it.
Imagine if Gatti were a 6-foot-2, 200-pound black kid named Rashawn Gatti. Do you think they would have been as patient with him and as willing to treat him like an overgrown toddler who wasn’t getting his way instead of as a violent criminal?
No, they would not have been.
That’s white privilege in a nutshell. It’s being extended and afforded the benefit of the doubt. In this case, it’s not being considered a violent threat, even if you’re being violent and acting threatening. A white kid acts this way and he’s a drunken brat who needs to be taught a lesson. A black kid acts this way and he’s a danger who might actually need to die to protect everyone else.
I guess you’re right.
Why unfortunately? I just admitted that you were right.
Because I don’t want to be.
Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.