How White Privilege Materializes After Mass Shootings

8.12.19: Nation – (Politics): On the second night of the Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, U.S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York positioned herself as the candidate who is uniquely qualified to explain the concept of white privilege to the suburban moms that, in 2016, voted for Mr. Donald J. Trump.

A white child clad in a hoodie with candy in his pocket is immune from being shot, explained the senator, who was seemingly juxtaposing a hypothetical with the very real circumstances that befell 17-year-old Trayvon Martin seven years ago in Sanford, Florida.

Senator Gillibrand also said that what happened to 24-year-old Johnathan Ferrell – who in 2014 was in a car accident, sought help by knocking on the doors of strangers, and was ultimately killed by a Charlotte police officer – wouldn’t have happened to a white person.

“That is what white privilege in America is today,” she declared.

The senator isn’t wrong. But there’s another appropriate example, one with even greater relevancy to today’s news cycle.

When a young White man plans and executes a mass shooting, he – unlike the perpetrators of gun violence in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and Baltimore – is unlikely to be pathologized in the same way as his Black counterparts.

For African-Americans, their violent tendencies are often viewed as inherent, whereas, for Caucasians, it’s imposed. Said another way: Black men and boys who commit murder are seen as products of their environment, while White men and boys who do same are often acknowledged as victims of circumstance.

Recommended Listening: Can Philly Ban Guns from Parks and Playgrounds?

For example, the American public is eight times more likely to blame video games for violent crime when the shooter is white, according to experts. But not only is there no scientific evidence to suggest video games are the catalyst for mass shootings, Whites don’t play video games at a greater rate than people of color, Mr. James Ivory, professor and research director at Virginia Tech, told CBS News.

Nonetheless, President Trump last Monday asserted that “gruesome and grisly video games” are contributing to a glorification of violence in society. The president also called for reform to America’s mental health laws “to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment, but, when necessary, involuntary confinement.”

The aforementioned, however, is not how Mr. Trump speaks of violence when it’s a Black finger that pulls the trigger. A tone of concern is absent, and in its place is a soulless law-and-order rhetoric.

In January of 2017, Mr. Trump threatened to send the feds to Chicago if then Mayor Rahm Emanuel couldn’t mitigate the “carnage.” Over a year later, in October of 2018, Mr. Trump suggested that Chicago police resurrect the practice of stop-and-frisk, which has been widely condemned as racist.

When referring to the ghastly violence in Chicago, Mr. Trump has neither cited violent video games nor expressed an iota of concern for the mental health of the black men and boys who so carelessly wield guns in their neighborhoods.

Furthermore, when speaking of mass shooters, the president has neither threatened the marshaling of the feds nor implied that police should stop-and-frisk White men and boys who exhibit an anti-social personality disorder, a condition which one doctor applied to most mass shooters in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida tragedy.

As you can see, Mr. Trump isn’t alone in this problematic function of society.

America, as a whole, has largely equated Whiteness to innocence. And when that inherent innocence is undermined by an evil deed, the Devil is apparently to blame. This is what white privilege in America is today.

So, as we carry-on the conversations about changing gun laws and banning assault weapons, let us not forsake the work of dismantling white privilege. For it is the construct of whiteness that truly threatens America.

Thanks for reading! Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® and I’m Drumming for Justice!™

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