Cliven Bundy, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, DSM-IV, Education, Ethan Couch, Frazier Glenn Miller, Hate Crimes, Hypocrisy, Injustice, Racism, Terrorism, Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), Wade Michael Page, Wages of Whiteness, White Supremacy, Whiteness
There have been few things more disappointing than seeing how frequently the structures, institutions and individuals in this country cut Whites slack for things that would have me out of work, in jail or long dead. If I were a human rights attorney specializing in racial justice, I’d want to take a sledgehammer to my head at least five days a week, every single week, given the ridiculous things that occur and how the mainstream media reports them.
Cliven Bundy is the latest in a long, long, long line of White supremacists whom the media have turned into heroes. Bundy has the distinction of refusing to pay over $1 million in grazing fees for his cattle over a tw0-decade period, even though his cattle grazed on federally-owned land in Nevada. When federal agents came to his ranch to seize his cattle, instead of paying his fees, Bundy and his neo-Nazi/militia buddies brazenly displayed their guns and rifles for the whole world to see. Bundy and company complained that the government had violated their rights as ranchers — rights to an endless free lunch for their cattle, apparently.
The sad truth is, all one would have to do to change the perception here would be to make Bundy and the rest of his master-race-band Black. There would’ve been a shootout, and not necessarily with law enforcement, either. The mainstream media would’ve called them terrorists, militants, anarchists and Black Panther-wannabes. And that would be the end of the story.
Then there’s Ethan Couch, the now seventeen-year-old who ran over and killed four people on a road outside of Fort Worth, Texas, not to mention permanently disabling one of his teenage passengers. A judge sentenced Couch to ten years’ probation, in no small part because a psychologist testified that Couch suffered from affluenza. Affluenza, of course, is the inability to link bad behavior with consequences due to parents inadvertently teaching the lesson that wealth buys the privilege of not having to suffer any consequences. Last I checked, affluenza appears nowhere in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders.
If I did this, even at the age of ten, my Black ass would be in juvenile detention, especially in Texas, and likely transferred to a high-security prison as soon as I started puberty. It wouldn’t have mattered if Dr. Phil himself had testified that I suffered from the poverty pox. I would’ve been treated as close to an adult in the Texas criminal justice system as the system would’ve allowed. The media wouldn’t have whispered a protest, much less bought the poverty pox defense or tried to treat it as a plausible psychological disorder (of course, grinding poverty does result in PTSD for millions, but let’s not tell that to the mainstream loonies).
So I’m tired. I’m tired of employers making excuses for lazy twenty-three year-olds whom happen to be White, saying that “they’re young.” As if someone incompetent and lazy in their work deserves more consideration than a Black man or woman in their mid-twenties because they are White and have a college degree? Ridiculous!
I’m tired of teachers and professors who explain away inconsistencies in someone’s academic record, saying “thery’re brilliant” or “he’s a genius.” Is boredom really an excuse for not working hard or completing assignments? Is a higher SAT score really a justification for ignoring borderline personality disorder or the potential for violent behavior? It is the epitome of arrogance to excuse immoral or criminal behavior on the basis of high analytical intelligence, but I’ve seen it enough times to know that it’s a normal part of Whiteness’ wages.
I’m tired of the mainstream media reporting the ludicrous as normal and the normal as ludicrous as they ignore their own complicity in upholding Whiteness’ wages. Frazier Glenn Miller (Overland Park, Kansas shooting, Jewish community center) and Wade Michael Page (Oak Creek, Wisconsin shooting, Sikh temple) committed acts of domestic terrorism, hate crimes based on Whiteness. But whenever these shootings occur, the mainstream theme talks about mental illness, about whether racism is an illness. Maybe in a couple hundred years, individual racism will be in DSM-XV. What about the structural and institutional racism that ensures the privileges of Whiteness, though?
I’m tired of injustice being called justice. How can a kid in the back of a squad car in Arkansas shoot himself in the head with his hands handcuffed and his arms behind his back (that kind of contortionist act would be a highlight of Cirque de Soleil!)? Seriously? Marissa Alexander shoots a warning shot to ward off her abusive husband and protect her kids, but she can’t use self-defense as her defense? Come on!
I’m really am tired of the bullshit. It’s a wonder sometimes that I don’t have high-blood pressure (except when I’m dealing with incompetent nurses). But hey, the forces of Whiteness still have time to drive me there if I let them.
Catherine Lugg said:
Recently, I have totally unloaded on some parents about their jerky white kids, whom they continually enable (telling the kids to “grow up and stop whining”). But as you point out, the entitled a**holishness by white supremacists is friggin EVERYWHERE. It’s “Bundy” (think Ted Bundy?), but it’s the media, but it’s the enabling congress critters, as most especially it’s the supposedly every-day white folks who don’t think past their image in the mirror.
But since by dint of my own race and class privilege I deal with white elite suburban parents, most days, they are my on-going focus of analysis and correction.
Great essay. I hope this gets a LOT of traction.
Cath, thanks! I hope so too! BTW, my wife (who’s been the PTA prez at my son’s school for the last two years) has made similar observations and complaints about the soccer-mom-set, whose Whiteness is equalled by their sexism (low turnout on issues involving female athletics, for instance).