Violence and White Male Privilege
The following is a response to We Are Respectable Negroes’ post entitled “What James Holmes and the Colorado Movie Massacre Tell Us About White (Male) Privilege“.
During my vacation, if you could call it that, I heard about the recent massacre in Aurora, Colorado near Denver during the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. The massacre was committed by lone gunman James Holmes, 24, who fired his numerous weapons into the audience killing 12 people and injuring more than 50. All weapons were obtained legally.
It is reported that Holmes identified himself as the Joker, a prominent villain in the Batman franchise.
And that’s not the only act of extreme violence that occurred recently. Another mass shooting was reported in Tuscaloosa, Alabama at a Copper Top. Nathan Wilkins, 44, opened fire with a military-style assault weapon injuring 17 people. It’s been speculated that the shooting was racially motivated as he was looking for a black man earlier that evening. Wilkins shot and wounded two black men, Brian Felton and Bruce Blankhead while looking for a third, Andrew Clements. Neither men said they knew Wilkins.
It is reported that Wilkins has had a history of violence since the 1980s.
So, where am I going with this? Like Chauncey DeVega said in his blog We Are Respectable Negroes, this will likely open up conversations about violence and gun control and if entertainment can influence violent behavior. However, the one conversation that will not be so much as imagined is the problem with white men and violence.
No doubt, people of color have taken a deep sigh of relief to discover that the Aurora shooter was a white man. The anxiety that came before the news comes from the fear that a violent crime was committed by a person of color of a certain group. You see, the white racial frame sees nonwhites as a monolith. For black people in America, negative stereotypes and crime are seen as the norm. Therefore, if violence committed by blacks breaks out no matter if it was caused by one or a few, that is reason enough to fear and hate all blacks, keep a close eye on them, especially in their communities, and to criminalize the whole group and restrict their movements to bring the crime rate down.
(And it’s not regulated to color only. What if what happened in both Aurora and Tuscaloosa were done by Muslims? You can not imagine the frenzy many (White) Americans would have if they believe that their country was under attack again. They would think that was began on 9-11 is continuing.)
Yet, the two incidents last week were committed by White, American, non-Muslim (possibly Christian) men. Not only that, there were other similar incidents in the past mostly committed by white men in general here and in other parts of the world. However, white male privilege grants individuality to those men because of their skin. Those mass shootings were carried out by crazed individuals who are seen as “exceptions to the rule of natural white peace and goodness”.
This is why violence committed by white males will not have an examination of any kind no matter how frequent it is, no matter how many are involved in violent acts. White male privilege will blind a society to not consider members of the dominant group to be susceptible to deplorable human behavior. To society white men (and women) are above that kind of behavior while black men (and again, women) are not that “evolved”.