Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lord, What Shall We do with the White Men?...They do So Seem to be in Need of Help--10 People Murdered as Gunman in Alabama Goes on Killing Spree

Do I have to keep saying it? Lord, some people really do need help. Thought exercise--again--make the story about someone other than a "good old boy." How about making him someone black, brown, red, yellow, or Other?

The difference in reaction by the public would be predictable. But, would the difference in reaction be noteworthy and important? Absolutely.

Funny, how some try to salvage crazy, murderous, monsters as being "good folk" somehow gone wrong. Of course, some folks do in fact try to make excuses for the black and brown ign'ts, but as I tell my students, the great privilege of whiteness (as opposed to white privilege) is anonymity and individuality. Thus, there will be no great effort to link Michael McLendon's actions to those of White men, more generally. There will be no moral panic. There will be no outcry for a national conversation about why White men go crazy and shoot up their workplaces, their schools, or become serial killers. White men will not have to worry about being racially profiled or harassed by the police because of McLendon's actions, nor will a White man be shot because someone was "traumatized" or "made nervous" about White men writ large because of this one man's cruel deeds.

Nah, those are just crazy individuals--White privilege wins again.

When I read stories like this, or about those 2 school teachers who were giving the same student a "reduced price lunch," (like the euphemism?) I really begin to feel that the next installment in our White in America: the Never to be Made Documentary is increasingly imminent in its necessity.

Till next time...and there surely will be one.

***Random factoid and point of creative inspiration: the title of this post is a wink to the essayist William J. Wilson who wrote under the name Ethiop for the Anglo-African Magazine in 1860. His essay, "What Shall We Do with the White People?" was a satirical parody of the white racialists and others (such as the American Colonization Society) who wanted to deport Black Americans to Africa as a solution to the "race problem." Commentary on Ethiop's essay can be found here. "What Shall We Do with the White People?" can be found in its entirety in this book. Please, if one of you can find the whole piece online by all means email the link to us so that we can post it for all to read.***


Anonymous said...

I'm not buying this, and you shouldn't be selling it. The biggest monsters American society has ever produced have been white men, and they have been duly vilified. Dahmer, Gacy, Bundy, Manson, Jones...not a black man in the bunch.

There is no "privilege" in being a mass murderer, white or otherwise. Shame on you for trying to turn the senseless deaths of ten people into a racial event.

Alyasah "Ali" Sewell, Ph.D. said...

"we don't want to go down the road with speculation" - how appropriately respectful of privilege. now, we know if this had been a non-white person, they would be trying to impeach our new president (a bit of hyperbole, but you see where I am going). *shakes head*

A.Smith said...

It's all related, and we know this...

"White" is normal, it's the base, the rest of us need to be studied and understood. We're born understanding "white" (well, at least that's what the attitude of many suggests).

Good post. Wonder how long before the larger society REALLY understand this.

Paul Sunstone said...

Even though, as Anonymous points out, the most reviled monsters in America are all White, I think you make several excellent points about how these recent murders will be treated differently than had a person of color committed them. Nor do I think you out of bounds to make those points. There are real differences and they are significant.

Anonymous said...

Just some fodder for the discussion:

Celebrity/Privilege of Wealth?

OJ Simpson- just another good ole boy gone bad

Lady Zora, Chauncey DeVega, and Gordon Gartrelle said...

I would say OJ was a black man who earned his whiteness--enough to do commercials for avis and to marry a white woman. Thus, the "betrayal" when he was accused of murdering her...and the shock of he was one of the "good ones" and how could he do such a thing.

Regardless, good riddance to bad rubbish.

chauncey d

EstherTor said...

Good post.

Ethiop said...

The full text of "What Shall We do with White People?" can be found here:

Go to page 41 of the file for the article. You can also download a pdf -- maybe transcribe it and post it on your blog, and make it easier for people to find it. (I had a devil of a time finding it, myself.) The text is certainly in the public domain.

chauncey devega said...

That is a great resource. There is a text option on the sidebar. Lots of fun to be had there.