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To quote Angry Asian Man, staying up-to-date on this story has been “dizzying” (also, to quote AAA: “fuck this guy”). On the one hand, for anyone with degrees/deep interests in fields like sociology and psychology, Elliot Rodger’s legacy of videos and his WTF manifesto are a treasure trove. Long after the outrage of his crime blows over, there are those who will continue to analyze this creature, mainly because he provided us with abundant material. For lack of a better description, studying Elliot Rodger is a lot like being a kid in a blood-splattered candy store.
But do I feel sorry for him? Hell, no.
I’ve watched some of his videos and read some of his manifesto, focusing on the college years. I knew kids like Rodger in college; a lot of us did. If you may recall, they were the ones who didn’t “do” anything. Rodger, for example, had no job. His parents foot the bill for everything. He also didn’t take education seriously; the only reason he chose that college was because he’d seen that city in a movie or on TV or something, and fantasized about being a part of its wild social scene. He didn’t attend class faithfully or focus on his studies once he realized that fantasy wasn’t going to happen. So to recap: no job, no classes, parents footing the bill – with no small amount of lies and manipulation from Rodger himself.
Today, UC Santa Barbara will cancel classes to mourn George Chen, Katie Cooper, Cheng Yuan Hong, Chris Martinez, Weihan Wang, and Veronika Weiss, the six people whose deaths at the hands of a young biracial man — we will not print his full name in this space if we can help it — over the weekend brought sudden, needed attention to several particularly toxic strains of performative cis-masculinity.
But, while debates continue over the causes of the fatal attacks and the killer’s motivations, what cannot be argued anymore is that this is an outlier.
Driving that conversation were tags like #YesAllWomen and #YesAllWhiteWomen, and When Women Refuse, a tumblr created by activist Deanna Zandt to highlight other stories of men who felt so entitled to womens’ bodies and spaces that they responded with violence to their privilege being rebuffed.
When Maya penned her 1969 autobiography, she was one of the first black women to relay an authentic and frank account of the black female lived experience (coming-of-age in the Jim Crow south, no less), to acclaim. So often, even today, black women are discouraged from sharing our personal stories – whether they are rife with triumph or trauma – and are often fed a daily diet of caricaturish, one-dimensional versions of ourselves, concocted by people who can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to navigate life in a black, female body. So the indelible mark Dr. Angelou has left is worthy of note… make no mistake about it.
To be a black writer or woman and not give credence to Dr. Angelou’s impact is to be ignorant of literary history. Maya Angelou let us know that our lived experiences matter, and that our stories are relevant to the overall human narrative. I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing was a life changer and saver for many black women and young black girls who felt like they didn’t have a voice, identity, or any allies in the face of trauma, structural inequality, and despair. Maya lived so many lives and worked a series of jobs to survive and look after her son – fry cook, dancer, actress, prostitute and madam, educator, poet – she essentially taught women… people… to forgive and love themselves and not let their pasts hold them hostage, and to do better once they learn how to discerning in their life choices.
Richard Martinez’s son died on Friday. I cannot imagine the pain he is going through, the anguish. As a parent, one would think Todd would be a wee bit more empathetic than to call shooting victims bitches, and call a grieving father a piece of shit. But this is Todd Kincannon, who may have contributed in more than one way to the violence of last Friday. Along with attacking Richard Martinez over the weekend, the Toddster also went after #YesAllWomen, because for he and his “fans,” the only thing more fun than calling dead people bitches is misogyny. Something about which the murderer at UCSB knew quite a bit.