School Shootings and White Denial
I can think of no other way to say this, so here goes:
white people need to pull our heads out of our
collective ass. Two more white children are dead and
thirteen are injured, and another "nice" community is
scratching its blonde head, utterly perplexed at how a
school shooting the likes of the one yesterday in
Santee, California could happen. After all, as the
Mayor of the town said in an interview with CNN:
"We're a solid town, a good town, with good kids, a
good church-going town...an All-American town." Yeah,
well maybe that's the problem.
I said this after
Columbine and no one listened so I'll say it again:
white people live in an utter state of self-delusion.
We think danger is black, brown and poor, and if we
can just move far enough away from "those people" in
the cities we'll be safe. If we can just find an
life will be better, because "things like this just
don't happen here." Well bullshit on that. In case
you hadn't noticed, "here" is about the only place
these kinds of things do happen. Oh sure, there is
plenty of violence in urban communities and schools.
But mass murder; wholesale slaughter;
craziness seems made for those safe places: the white
suburbs or rural communities.
And yet once again, we hear the FBI insist there is no
"profile" of a school shooter. Come again? White boy
after white boy after white boy, with very few
exceptions to that rule (and none in the mass shooting
category), decides to use their classmates for target
practice, and yet there is no profile? Imagine if all
these killers had been black: would we still hesitate
to put a racial face on the perpetrators? Doubtful.
Indeed, if any black child in America -- especially
in the mostly white suburbs of Littleton, or Santee --
were to openly discuss their plans to murder fellow
students, as happened both at Columbine and now
Santana High, you can bet your ass that somebody would
have turned them in, and the cops would have beat a path to
their doorstep. But when whites discuss their
murderous intentions, our stereotypes of what danger
looks like cause us to ignore it -- they're just
"talking" and won't really do anything.
How many kids
have to die before we rethink that nonsense? How many
dazed and confused parents, Mayors and Sheriffs do we
have to listen to, describing how "normal" and safe
their community is, and how they just can't understand
what went wrong?
I'll tell you what went wrong and
it's not TV, rap music, video games or a lack of
prayer in school. What went wrong is that white
Americans decided to ignore dysfunction and violence
when it only affected other communities, and thereby
blinded themselves to the inevitable creeping of chaos which
never remains isolated too long. What affects the
urban "ghetto" today will be coming to a Wall-Mart
near you tomorrow, and unless you address the
emptiness, pain, isolation and lack of hope felt by children of
color and the poor, then don't be shocked when the
support systems aren't there for your kids either.
What went wrong is that we allowed ourselves to be
lulled into a false sense of security by media
representations of crime and violence that portray
both as the province of those who are anything but
white like us. We ignore the warning signs, because in
our minds the warning signs don't live in our
neighborhood, but across town, in that place where we
lock our car doors on the rare occasion we have to
drive there. That false sense of security -- the
result of racist and classiest stereotypes -- then
gets people killed. And still we act amazed. But
listen up my fellow white Americans: your children are
no better, no nicer, no more moral, no more decent
than anyone else.
Dysfunction is all around you, whether you choose to
recognize it or not. According to the Centers for
Disease Control, and Department of Health and Human
Services, it is your children, and not those of the
urban ghetto, who are most likely to use drugs. That's
right: white high school students are seven times more
likely than blacks to have used cocaine; eight times
more likely to have smoked crack; ten times more
likely to have used LSD and seven times more likely to
have used heroin.
In fact, there are more white high
school students who have used crystal methamphetamine
(the most addictive drug on the streets) than there
are black students who smoke cigarettes.
white youth ages 12-17 are more likely to sell drugs:
34% more likely, in fact than their black
And it is white youth who are twice as likely to binge
and nearly twice as likely as blacks to drive drunk.
males are twice as likely to bring a weapon to school
as are black males. And yet I would bet a valued body
part that there aren't 100 white people in Santee,
California, or most any other "nice" community who
have ever heard a single one of the statistics above.
Even though they were collected by government agencies
using these folks' tax money for the purpose. Because
the media doesn't report on white dysfunction. A few
years ago, U.S. News ran a story entitled: "A Shocking
look at blacks and crime." Yet never have they or any
other news outlet discussed the "shocking" whiteness
of these shoot-em-ups.
Indeed, every time media
commentators discuss the similarities in these crimes
they mention that the shooters were boys, they were
loners, they got picked on, but never do they seem to
notice a certain highly visible melanin deficiency.
Color-blind, I guess. White-blind is more like it, as
I figure these folks would spot color mighty damn
quick were some of it to stroll into their community.
Santee's whiteness is so taken for granted by its
that the Mayor, in that CNN interview, thought nothing
of saying on the one hand that the town was 82 percent
white, but on the other hand that "this is America."
Well that isn't America, and it especially isn't
California, where whites are only half of the
population. This is a town that is removed from
America, and yet its Mayor thinks they are the normal
ones -- so much so that when asked about racial
diversity, he replied that there weren't many of
different "ethni-tis-tities." Not a word. Not even
close. I'd like to think that after this one, people
would wake up.
Take note. Rethink their stereotypes of
who the dangerous ones are. But deep down, I know
better. The folks hitting the snooze button on this
none-too-subtle alarm are my own people, after all,
and I know their blindness like the back of my hand.
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