Mass shooting indicates white privilege

The mass shooting that took place on June 17 at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, has been the subject of widespread discussion and controversy across the United States.  The gunman, Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, organized the attack on the basis of racial prejudice, attempting to start a “race war” on people of color.  Though anger and sadness have been acknowledged across the country, many believe that early reports failed to recognize the severity of the occurrence.

The brutal attack was initially referred to as a “tragedy” by news reports and regarded as an “accident” by Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry. Mainstream media then had no hesitations in labeling the massacre a “hate crime.” Many were outraged by the fact that the crime was not reported as a terrorist attack, or even regarded as an act of terrorism in general.  The media’s misrepresentation of the event can be traced, however, to the reality of white privilege in the United States.

White privilege, which is the combination of social, political and economic privileges that benefit white people in Western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people, is ubiquitous in the U.S.  Though many politicians and commentators, such as Bill O’ Reilly, refuse to believe that white privilege is legitimate, the media’s distortion of the shooting can be directly attributed to it.  For the most part, white people are not seen or stereotyped as threatening, whereas people of color are deemed to be untrustworthy or violent, even when unarmed, in a white-dominated society.

The media unconsciously excuses the act committed by Roof by saying that such actions are results of a “mental illness” or the exposure of negative stimuli, such as “Internet evil.” On the other hand, New York Times writer John Eligon referred to Mike Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by police in 2014, as “no angel.” Eligon notes that Brown “lived in a community that had rough patches” and had “dabbled in drugs and alcohol.” If Roof had been a black man who attacked a white church, he would very likely be labeled as a “thug.” Derogatory assumptions would then be made based on the color of his skin.

Major news sites, such as Reuters, which included a source calling Roof “quiet and soft-spoken,” and CNN, which addressed a court scene in which the “victim’s kin say, ‘I forgive you,’” unconsciously demonstrate Roof’s white privilege. When an unarmed black teenager is portrayed by news media as more unethical than a white mass murderer, one can assume that society judges individuals using racial stereotypes and prejudice. What happened in Charleston is a blatant act of terrorism and should be treated as such, and the media’s failure to do so is a precise example of how white-washed the U.S. appears to be. Daily Show host Jon Stewart shined mainstream light on this subject, suggesting that if Roof had been Muslim, no one would have hesitated to label the crime as a terrorist attack. Stewart also said, “Al-Qaeda, all those guys, ISIS. They’re not sh*t compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.”

White privilege is an urgent and present issue, especially in the diverse communities within USC. Several severe cases of racial profiling have unfortunately taken place around campus. In order to change the overall perceptions of race in this country, we must first acknowledge the existence of white privilege and how people of different colors are treated. Once this phenomenon is universally accepted, we should then take the proper steps to achieve full equality among all races.

8 replies
  1. Michelle Obama
    Michelle Obama says:

    Black privilege manifests itself in numerous forms:
    Blacks have the right to take pride in their race. Whites don’t.
    Blacks can never be racist. Whites are always racist, even if they don’t try to be.
    Blacks get to play the race card. Whites don’t.
    Blacks never have to feel guilty about being black. Whites are trained to feel guilty about being white.
    Blacks have the right to make blacks only organizations like the Black Student Union and the Congressional Black Caucus. Whites don’t.
    Blacks have the right to never take responsibility for their own actions. Anything bad which happens to a black person can be blamed on racism or white people. Whites have to take responsibility and apologize for their actions.
    Rich black people have a right to be rich. Rich white people don’t.
    Black people have the right to demonize white people. White people don’t have the right to demonize black people.
    Black people are excused when they are prejudiced against white people. White people are never excused for prejudice against black people.
    Black people are a “protected class.” White people are not.
    Violent crimes by whites on blacks are “hate crimes.” Violent crimes by blacks on whites are just “random” crimes.
    Blacks have the right to affirmative action and minority set-asides. Whites have to earn their positions.
    Blacks are “cool.” Whites are “squares” and “rednecks.”
    Blacks have the right to say words like “nigger,” which whites are never allowed to use. They have the right to incessantly repeat the word “nigger” in front of white people, to intimidate them and keep them in their place. .
    Blacks can make the most racially insensitive comments and, more often than not, no one blinks twice. They are allowed to insult others without repercussion.[1]
    Blacks can spend their rent money on designer handbags and then complain about how they don’t have the same economic opportunities as everyone else. And they get away with it.[2]
    Black men are sexual supermen. White men are sexually inadequate. Black men have huge penises. White men have small, inadequate penises.
    Blacks have “civil rights”. Whites don’t.
    Blacks are in prison because of racism. Whites are in prison because they’re criminals.
    Black jury members have the right to acquit criminals, if they’re black.
    Blacks have the right to put a halt to any policy, statement, symbol, statistic, outcome, word or expression they find offensive. Whites have no such rights.
    Blacks are morally superior to whites.
    “[Blacks] enjoy cultural cache around the world as victors over oppression and the hard reality of what that looks like at this point in world history. The music that they enjoy, the clothes that they wear, their very mannerisms carry a certain amount of gravitas.”[3]
    Blacks can assign collective racial guilt to “you white folks.” White people cannot do the reverse because that would be racist.
    White people everywhere, and at all times, bear guilt for the crimes of a minority of white people in the past (e.g., slave owners, Adolf Hitler). Making blacks bear guilt, as a race, for the despicable crimes of their criminal minority is stereotyping, racist, and an insult to reason; after all, no one should ever be blamed for the acts of some unrelated person.
    Blacks have “black culture.” Whites are not allowed to have white culture.
    African-American studies is a celebration of blackness and black culture. Whiteness studies is a demonization of white people and white culture.
    White people need to undergo diversity/sensitivity training. Black people don’t.
    “… any generalization–favorable or unfavorable–about any minority that someone does not like is by definition “racist” and deserves to be suppressed–as long as it is said by a white person. Black diversity consultants, in contrast, can parade, without a shred of empirical evidence, the grossest racial and ethnic stereotypes with virtual impunity.”[4]
    It’s racist to point out racism by blacks. It’s never racist to point out racism by whites.
    Whites have to walk on eggshells around blacks. Blacks don’t give a shit what whites think.
    Blacks have the right to riot and commit violent acts in response to perceived grievances. White people have to obey the law at all times.
    Blacks have the right to never be portrayed as criminals or lowlifes in films or on TV. Bad guys on the screen must always be White.
    Blacks have the right to never be ridiculed, mocked, belittled or laughed at. Whites have no such right.
    Black criminals have the right to have their race censored in media reports.
    Facts which cause blacks embarrassment or cast them in a bad light must be suppressed. Facts which cause whites embarrassment or cast them in a bad light are reported as is.
    Blacks can silence and intimidate whites by calling them racist. Whites can’t silence and intimidate blacks because that would be racist.
    Forcing whitey to apologize shows black power and clout. Whites can never force blacks to apologize because that would constitute a lynching.
    Whites are held to a system of ‘sensitivity’ requirements that do not apply to blacks.
    “Whites are monitored, pestered, and punished for preposterous reasons–for a look, for an innocent word, for wearing a T-shirt, for expressing a plausible argument–but blacks can say almost anything with perfect impunity.”[5]
    “In discussions of race between black people and white people the conscious black person is always right; is always the ultimate authority on questions having to do with race and racism; must always be regarded as the ‘injured party,’ or the oppressed. . . . [Whites] cannot possibly be expected to be objective about questions of race.”[6]
    Blacks may work for explicitly racial goals but whites may not.
    Blacks are permitted to notice race. Whites are not.
    “It is quite acceptable for either party to explicitly go after the black, Hispanic, or even the Jewish vote. In fact both parties gain an indispensable moral authority by doing so. But it is absolutely verboten for either party, or any white candidate, to appeal to whites as a racial identity group. Racial identity is simply forbidden to whites in America and across the entire Western world. Black children today are hammered with the idea of racial identity and pride, yet racial pride in whites constitutes a grave evil. Say ‘I’m white and I’m proud’ and you are a National Socialist.”[7]
    A black who punches a White person is a hero standing up to oppression. A White person who punches a black is a racist.
    It can be publicly admitted that blacks are superior to Whites in certain pursuits (i.e. basketball). It can never be publicly admitted that Whites are superior to blacks in other pursuits (i.e. winning Nobel prizes in science).
    When blacks are overrepresented in a desirable field, it is due to their abilities. When Whites are overrepresented in a desirable field, it is due to racism. When blacks are overrepresented in an undesirable field, it is due to racism. When Whites are overrepresented in an undesirable field, it is their own fault.
    Most African countries are made up almost entirely of blacks, and have some of the world’s highest birth rates. Most European countries consist of White people having to live alongside blacks and other non-whites, and have some of the world’s lowest birth rates.

    • Primer
      Primer says:

      After what white people has done to everyone else in the world through occupations, invasions, slavery, genocide, pogroms, segregation, inquisitions, scientific racism, forced assimilation and many more atrocities, it’s crucial to make them remember what they have done.
      And arguments on how ‘it was our ancestors that did it and we shouldn’t have to pay for it’ is the most ridiculous trite ever. Whites must always be reminded of their barbarous and oppressive ways so as to avoid them doing the same things over again. Oh wait, they’re still doing it but it gets manipulated by the media.
      It’s a pity that there are people like you. If only whites would learn that the world is not theirs. That their way of life is not universal. That their concepts and ideas of ‘civilization’ is a facade that is self appointed.
      Not all white people are evil. There are good ones. It’s too bad the bad apples smell stronger.

  2. Mike
    Mike says:

    Thanks for posting. It’s a shame white privilege is a taboo topic on our campus. Check out Cal, the Claremont Colleges and any Ivy League school, and they’d view the topic as common sense while at USC it’s viewed as extremism or ignorance. Our campus needs to make students more aware of white privilege and privilege in general (ie male privilege, heteronormativity). Thanks for writing, Arya, and I hope soon the Trojan family will realize that CBCSA, El Centro, and APASA, among other centers, aren’t reverse racism.

    For the rest of the folks who commented: If white privilege didn’t exist, having two women of color as Pres/VP wouldn’t be news in 2015, nor would it be the first time for all of the pac 12. If white privilege didn’t exist, neither would the row.

  3. GeorgeCurious
    GeorgeCurious says:

    So this article is a parody, right?? Assuming there is such a thing as “white privilege” in 2015, blaming the shooting on it is a sign of pure and absolute ignorance. The gunman, in this case, is at the very least a hate-monger and quite possibly MENTALLY DERANGED. While the politicians will continue to use this tragedy to further their agendas, perhaps we, as a civilized society, should start thinking about mental illness and how it is underreported and undertreated.

    • Primer
      Primer says:

      Because if white people commits a crime they are clearly mental issues. But when it comes to non-whites, nope! Chuck them in as terrorists, rebels, thugs, gangsters, and violent criminals. It’s funny how white people like you would not admit to something that is clearly going on. White privilege or shall we say White American privilege is as plain as day.

  4. DiaKrieg
    DiaKrieg says:

    The author’s entire argument rests on a glaring category mistake.

    If Mike Brown had perpetrated a church massacre, the media would INDEED
    have questioned his sanity, and not been much interested in his criminal history. That’s because “thugishness” alone does not explain mass murder. The brutally senseless act — regardless of the race of the shooter — suggests only two possible explanations: insanity or terrorism.

    Let’s try a different thought-experiment: Suppose a black cop had gunned down an unarmed Dylann Roof in broad daylight on the streets of Charleston. Would the media have speculated as to whether the white victim was mentally ill? No. That would have been a total non-sequitur. The victim’s personal conduct and criminal history (thugishness), however, is entirely relevant when a police officer is accused of murdering him in cold blood.

  5. b juardo
    b juardo says:

    Roshanian, instead of glossing over “white privilege,” why don’t you expound? You have to convince readers of what you write instead of just throwing something out there and pontificating.

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