Colorlines.com wrote an article about the recent shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin entitled ‘Not Senseless, Not Random: The Deadly Mix of Race, Guns & Madness” written by Rinku Sen. It is something worth reading as it examines how racism, white privilege and gun violent not only devastates communities of color, but white communities as well seeing as how white privilege prevents whites from observing their own pathologies even if they are against their own people.
One commenter, however, was more upset that the article wrote about a violent incident caused by a white male. He writes:
I am ashamed to be white, that is what I got from this article. I’m so sick of double standards and hypocracy, and this among all the stuff out there being called racist could be considered one of the most racist articles out there. I feel for the Sikh community, I feel for victims of racial hate crimes and other radical attacks. But what is said about white people? “Yesterday, did they quietly hope that the shooter wasn’t one of theirs? Probably not, even though the link between violence, masculinity and whiteness is well-established. White men seem to be in deep crisis, and white people would do well to deal with it”………Seriously? If you had replaced Whites in that sentence with Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Chinese, and other race there would be outrage. Yes, there are misguided white people out there. The same way there are misguided radical islamics and African-American gang wars. But I’m so tired of being shamed because I’m white for what a few white people have done and said. I’m not a bad person, but every day I’m made to feel like one because I’m not ashamed to be white or helping everyone who is less fortunate than me, who I admit are plenty. I just don’t like the double standard of racism only going one way.
Here are three of the many excellent responses to this comment:
Oh Travis, the irony. The irony of you feeling “so tired” of being lumped in with the behavior of others just because you are white. You don’t sound like a bad person to me, but you shouldn’t feel “tired” either. You are not a victim here.
I am white too, and I can’t afford to feel tired, nor do I deserve to. Because there is work to do. And because there is NO SUCH THING as reverse racism. I will say it again: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS REVERSE RACISM. Prejudice is universal, hate is universal. But racism is a system and an institution whereby a majority given the power to act on its prejudices in ways that are not comparable with the reverse. No matter how “shamed” a news article makes you feel, at the end of the day, you and I both enjoy the societal privileges of being white, even if we don’t acknowledge them or even ask for them.
Example: there’s a pretty damn good chance you or I could walk down the street in a Sikh neighborhood this week and not worry about someone calling the cops because we “look suspicious.” Do you think the reverse is ever true for a POC? See the difference?
Stop feigning victimhood and tiredness because you’re white. Read some books. Be the good person I am sure that you are and want to be.
It’s funny that you say you’re ashamed to be white and you’re upset that you feel that you have to take a part of the blame for something someone of your ethnic group did. Now you know what it is like to be a minority in America, if only for the brief time in which you read this article. There is not a minority in this country who doesn’t wonder if their missteps and mistakes will reflect badly upon their entire ethnic or racial group in the eyes of the white majority.
When people talk about how OJ killed his wife, I think of how badly that reflects on my community. Mind you, the OJ trial is OLDER than me, and I still feel that way. When a white person commits a crime no one bothers to bring up the fact that he/she’s white. They speak about how damaged he/she was. He/she is independent of his/her race. That is not the case for us POC. I implore you to take these feelings you’re having to empathize with us POC and now that you know how terrible it feels to be constantly tied down to conceptions of your race or ethnic group, maybe now you would have the strength to stand up to those who perpetrate racism and the like.
I feel as though, if only for moments, you’ve felt what it is to be unprivileged in this nation. Now you know how we feel.
“If you had replaced Whites in that sentence with Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Chinese, and other race there would be outrage.”
No, there wouldn’t. And that is what, sadly, you don’t understand. As an ethnic and/or religious minority in the U.S. every time someone does something horrendous like this, we hope it wasn’t one of us. When the Virginia Tech shooter was described as Asian, my first thought was that I hope he isn’t Chinese. And then my second thought was that it wouldn’t matter whether he was Chinese or some other kind of Asian because most U.S.Americans can’t be bothered to tell us apart anyway.
As a person of color in the U.S. I am constantly aware that whatever I do, however I behave, that is going to affect how other people perceive ALL East Asians. And I know that however other East Asians behave, that will reflect on me, even tho I don’t have any control over other people. As a white man, do you walk around thinking that your behavior will be generalized to all white people? Doubtful. THAT is the point that Rinku Sen is making.
How would you respond to this and other similar comments? Sound off in the comment section.