If any subject has ever boggled my mind, it has been the insistence of the idea that Men of Color are far more likely to be violent than white men. I have been on the receiving end of violence and threats thereof many times in my life. I am not talking about the occasional school yard fight, I am talking being beaten once I was down, I am talking having my life threatened just for being. All but one of those instances have been at the hands of white men. When I have witnessed violence, it has almost always been a white, male aggressor. Then I go ahead and read one article citing a study about attitudes regarding armed revolution and another about the chaos at Seattle’s Mayday marches.
Most of yesterday’s marches, by the way, went off with out a hitch. There was some harassment in some places by the authorities, who are just more angry white men for the most part. The events in Seattle are disturbing though, and I wish I could say I believed they are not symptomatic of a larger problem. I spent a week in Zuccotti Park early in the Occupy Movement though. The larger problems of organization aside, most of the vibe was a positive one. Then there were the anarchists, led by young, white men. Yes there were women among them, passively accepting the “leadership” of the men. These people accepted no authority, including that of the movement they had supposedly joined. The GA had placed a moratorium on direct action until we could be better prepared, but they were having none of it. They wanted confrontation and they wanted it now. Just like the mostly young, white, male crowd of the anarchists in Seattle.
Then there is the other group in this little story. So many angry “conservative” white men, so afraid of having to give up even an ounce of their privilege that they desperately hope for armed conflict with a state that they are quick to support when a young black man is gunned down, or when a bunch of punk kids are pepper sprayed for peacefully protesting. They worship their right to bear arms with a vigor that frightens saner advocates of gun rights. Their guns are fetishes, carrying holy power, the might of the angry, white male, who will fight to the death (usually the other guys’) for the right of his superiority.
Both of these groups love to shout down anyone who calls them out for their privilege. To do so is to victimize them, and you better shut up if you know what is good for you. Both groups are also made up of cowards. One group hiding behind bandanas so the cops cannot tell them from the peaceful protesters, the other hiding behind pseudonyms on the internet. They don’t want to pay the price for their rage, they just want to exercise it on everyone within reach.
I know white men are not inherently more violent than other groups. I have known too many that are not violent to believe that they are. I also know enough about world affairs that there is plenty of horrific violence exacted on others by groups that are not white. There is something about the American, white male that makes you wonder. Violence in the cities, regardless of the race of the perpetrators, is usually the result of an existing conflict. How often do we see white men seek out violence, though? Whether it is in hoping for armed revolution, throwing trash bins through windows, mass shootings, or drunken bursts of violence on college campuses, you can watch white men involved in violence where previously there was none, at least in this country.
There is something peculiar about our culture that enables this. Part of it is the privilege they have enjoyed the entirety of our societies existence. Maybe that is the entirety of the problem. Regardless, we have to start calling it out for what it is. Too often we are willing to accept the notion that violence in other racial groups is inherent, despite the mountains of evidence that there are other factors. When so much of our random violence is committed and/or encouraged by white men, we never mention a race. We need to start taking a look inside and asking ourselves what causes this. We need to stop being afraid to look in the mirror.
- White men are scary (traditionalchristianity.wordpress.com)
- Mad Men – White People Problems (televisionwithoutpity.com)
- A riot for no good reason (collegian.com)
- Happy May Day from The Radicle! (portlandradicle.wordpress.com)