Trigger warning: This post contains honesty and talks about things that make some people feel defensive.
I’m sorry, my fellow white people, but we can’t keep pretending this isn’t a problem.
When an Islamic fundamentalist sets off a bomb in a crowded place or shoots a cartoonist, we say, “Muslims are dangerous. If they’re so peace loving, why don’t the so-called law-abiding ones speak out against violence?”
Translation: All Muslims are terrorists.
When a black person commits murder, we say, “The black community does nothing but complain about racism. Why don’t blacks speak out against murder instead?”
Translation: Black people are violent criminals.
And when yet another white person goes on a mass-murder spree like the one at the black church in South Carolina Wednesday night, what do we say?
“He was mentally ill.”
Translation: He’s not one of us. He’s an aberration.
Millions and millions of Americans suffer from mental illness. Most of them have jobs and families and cars and want the same things everyone else wants. A small fraction of them are violent.
The scumbag pictured above is a terrorist.
I’m sorry if it makes some of us uncomfortable, but the biggest terrorist threat to the general American public these days is angry, young, and armed white men. I don’t know what to do about it, but we can’t address it until we admit it, can we?
Instead of becoming defensive or tuning it out or tweeting #NotAllWhitePeople or trying to deflect by tossing out crime and prison statistics (which are already problematic for several reasons), why don’t we do what we admonish other groups to do?
Speak out against the violent white criminals and terrorists in our midst.
Instead of rolling our eyes and derisively calling people who write blog posts like this one “Social Justice Warriors,” why don’t we look in the mirror and address our own prejudices? It never stops amazing me that the biggest, most privileged loudmouths who whine incessantly about political correctness (“Why can’t blacks/women/gays/ take a joke?”) are the most dramatically wounded when challenged on their prejudices.
Instead of saying “I’m not a racist” while sitting silently among people who are, why don’t we try calling them out for once? Why don’t we show some courage? Why don’t we observe our own behavior and make sure we aren’t inadvertently teaching our children to dehumanize other people?