Guest Post: Preferred Victims: The White Privilege of Eternal Victimhood

by Lavern Merriweather

This post may seem somewhat insensitive in light of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, at Sandy Hook Elementary, but any time I hear about stuff like this happening ,I have some difficulty feeling sympathy for those involved, mainly because those same people wringing their hands and crying over how such a horrific tragedy like this could happen in such a nice town are singing a much different song when anything like this happens in poor, black, urban areas. There is immediately a rallying cry that such behavior was bound to happen and because of black people’s ‘culture of violence’ that we supposedly love so much will always leads to this. We are just natural born thugs who can’t let one minute go by without causing as much chaos and mayhem as humanly possible.

Not once have I ever heard a young or older black male who commits an act of violence labeled as crazy or mentally unstable. I don’t think the shooter at Sandy Hook was either. I think, if anything, he was very angry. Maybe he was someone who felt wronged or was wronged many times in his life. So, he wanted payback and what better way to get it than the path of least resistance.

However, as much as I would like to go there again with the privilege of white male violence which still is on full display any time something like this happens, this post is more about the victims than the shooter. Let’s not kid ourselves here. The main reason why we are told that as a nation we should give an outpouring of love and support to the parents and family members for Sandy Hook is because their kids are what we call or consider ‘cute’. Since these kids resemble the children of Madison Avenue, we should obviously care more about them than we should those who don’t quite fit the mold.

Plus, they have more traditional sounding names. There is no rush to shed tears or hold candlelit vigils for Shauniqua, Melvon or Lamishiea. Trust me, the kids with those names will get no attention or sympathy from the greater public, and they for damn sure won’t have politicians angrily demanding that the laws be changed, nor have doe-eyed celebrities practically on the verge of tears rushing to speak out either.

Black parents, for the longest, have always had to deal with their suffering in silence, and if their case does become public, ala Trayvon Martin, then it is met with racism and scrutiny from the dominant society. The mentality of ‘blame the victim’ becomes the norm, Something that you won’t see in Newtown or Aurora. Just like you’ll see little to no blame being put on the parents either. Granted, Adam Lanza’s mother is no longer alive and can’t be held accountable, but I have a sneaky suspicion that she never would have been anyway despite the fact that this woman had a freaking arsenal in her home and on many occasions would take her son with her to the gun range.

When a little black boy brought a gun to school, and then, subsequently shot and killed a classmate who was a little white girl, the outrage was enormous, and the boy’s uncle who owned the gun that he had access to was immediately arrested and jailed. There were also self-righteous media bigots both liberal and conservative who used it as yet another opportunity to harp on how growing up in that kind of environment breeds a criminal element. When two white boys, Mitchell Johnson and his friend Andrew Golden, murdered several classmates and a teacher with a gun that Andrew got from his grandfather’s gun collection, there was not ONE adult in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit, nor was there the coded language that usually comes from the media or white people in the suburbs who will continuously say that they moved there to get away from the violence or that they moved there because they thought it would be safer. I hope they are really feeling safe now!

They might as well have said we thought that because there were no Negroes around. That meant we would be on easy street. No danger my ass!

And it’s not just shooting victims either. I distinctly remember when fellow blogger Jay Anderson who goes by the moniker Average Bro once said that CNN should just go ahead and rename itself “the missing white woman’s network”. Truer words were never spoken only damn near all the major networks should call themselves that seeing how if you are anything but a young, thin, pretty, blond white woman from a well off family, you might as well not even exist. And you certainly shouldn’t expect for the media to talk about you 15 hours a day and 6 days a week. So, sorry Tameka Houston we don’t care about you and won’t be covering your story, have countless volunteers looking for you in the woods or talk to your friends, parents and family as if the world is supposed to stop because you went missing and are now presumed dead.

One time New York resident and white female Kitty Genovese was brutally murdered 48 years ago yet she is still remembered today by many whites as a symbol of urban apathy when it comes to crime. I’ll bet there is not one black female that was killed around the same time that we could ever say that about. Must be because we are the ones they prefer not to spend too much time giving a crap about.

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12 thoughts on “Guest Post: Preferred Victims: The White Privilege of Eternal Victimhood

  1. Kitty Genovese was a lesbian and her neighbors knew she was gay. They did not come to her aid because she was gay. She strayed from conventional norms of white womanhood and was punished for it.

    1. Really? I did not know that. I read about the Kitty Genovese situation whenI read something about how people do not help a person who is in trouble and they turn a blind eye and allow said person to be hurt, or worse, killed. When a person is a member of a group that is marginalized (i.e., Blacks, gays/lesbians, criminals, etc.), people tend to allow any misfortune being reigned upon them to go on without interference. I have noticed that we are good for that in this country.

    2. But my point was about how she is still to this day remember gay or not she was a white woman and in most cases that’s all you need. The lady in the high profile dog mauling case was a lesbian too but she was also young,thin,pretty,white and well off. That right there is more than enough to get media tongues wagging. If you are black woman the media doesn’t gives a rat’s ass if you are gay or straight they won’t give a damn either way.

  2. The Kitty Genovese story I remember from years ago. I didn’t know that she was gay. But I just remember reading that nobody came to her aid when people heard her crying out for help. I thought that was so horrendous. I know that people still remember her today. I wonder what black woman back then who suffered a similar fate is remembered today. Did anyone even care about black women and women of color?

  3. On the Kitty Genovese point, it showed the nature of city life when she was assaulted and murdered while no one saw fit to help her. Her homosexuality didn’t change the fact that she was considered white. If she were black she’d have been labeled a prostitute who had it coming and the story would have never left that street.

    Many black women have been brutalized throughout the years but their blackness has allowed people to justify the violence thrown at them. All they needed was one way to prove that the victim wasn’t perfect, and they could tell any lie they wanted and trash that victims reputation forever. If you look at records of white-on-black rape, especially in the south, the consensus seems to be that the acts were horrible, brutal, and disgusting to even the most unrefined southern individual. But since the victims were black the all white lawmen and juries were more than willing to let these criminals go because it was more about putting black people in their place than any real pursuit of justice.

    Whiteness was a state of mind that needed blackness to exist as an inferior state. That is the nature of white supremacy, black is viewed as the ultimate antithesis to everything white. It took me reading the “Invisible Man” in order for me to understand this point. In order to be perfect you need someone to exist as your foil, to be your opposite and have the traits you’ve deemed undesirable. You don’t actually have to be a good person if you can fall back on being white and there are black people to project everything onto. Therefore, if white people are going to be innocent victims, then black people must be unsympathetic by default.

    ((Take a look at the reaction to Rue being black by Hunger Games fans. The reaction to black victimhood is telling there, as is the notion of who is sympathetic and who isn’t.))

    I feel that relates to why people have this idea that people of color cannot be true victims. A mix of feeling the need to control people of color and resentment. Add a cycle of stereotypes that dehumanize people of color and then you have the reason why they cannot be true victims, even if they’re being shot down in the street minding their own business.

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