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Here are my reflections on the Boston bombing, race and white privilege…trust me, it's relevant: give it a read and pass it around… Join me below..

As the nation weeps for the victims of the horrific bombing in Boston yesterday, one searches for lessons amid the carnage, and finds few. That violence is unacceptable stands out as one, sure. That hatred -- for humanity, for life, or whatever else might have animated the bomber or bombers -- is never the source of constructive human action seems like a reasonably close second.

But I dare say there is more; a much less obvious and far more uncomfortable lesson, which many are loathe to learn, but which an event such as this makes readily apparent, and which we must acknowledge, no matter how painful.

It is a lesson about race, about whiteness, and specifically, about white privilege.

I know you don't want to hear it. But I don't much care. So here goes.

White privilege is knowing that even if the Boston Marathon bomber turns out to be white, his or her identity will not result in white folks generally being singled out for suspicion by law enforcement, or the TSA, or the FBI.

White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for whites to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening, or threatened with deportation.

White privilege is knowing that if the bomber turns out to be white, he or she will be viewed as an exception to an otherwise non-white rule, an aberration, an anomaly, and that he or she will be able to join the ranks of Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols and Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph and Joe Stack and George Metesky and Byron De La Beckwith and Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton and Herman Frank Cash and Robert Chambliss and James von Brunn and Robert Mathews and David Lane and Michael F. Griffin and Paul Hill and John Salvi and James Kopp and Luke Helder and James David Adkisson and Scott Roeder and Shelley Shannon and Dennis Mahon and Wade Michael Page and Byron Williams and Kevin Harpham and William Krar and Judith Bruey and Edward Feltus and Raymond Kirk Dillard and Adam Lynn Cunningham and Bonnell Hughes and Randall Garrett Cole and James Ray McElroy and Michael Gorbey and Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman and Frederick Thomas and Paul Ross Evans and Matt Goldsby and Jimmy Simmons and Kathy Simmons and Kaye Wiggins and Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe and David McMenemy and Bobby Joe Rogers and Francis Grady and Demetrius Van Crocker and Floyd Raymond Looker, among the pantheon of white people who engage in (or have plotted) politically motivated violence meant to terrorize and kill, but whose actions result in the assumption of absolutely nothing about white people generally, or white Christians in particular.

And white privilege is being able to know nothing about the crimes committed by most of the terrorists listed above -- indeed, never to have so much as heard most of their names -- let alone to make assumptions about the role that their racial or ethnic identity may have played in their crimes.

White privilege is knowing that if the Boston bomber turns out to be white, we  will not be asked to denounce him or her, so as to prove our own loyalties to the common national good. It is knowing that the next time a cop sees one of us standing on the sidewalk cheering on runners in a marathon, that cop will say exactly nothing to us as a result.

White privilege is knowing that if you are a white student from Nebraska -- as opposed to, say, a student from Saudi Arabia -- that no one, and I mean no one would think it important to detain and question you in the wake of a bombing such as the one at the Boston Marathon.

And white privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don't get any ideas. And if he turns out to be a member of the Irish Republican Army we won't bomb Belfast. And if he's an Italian American Catholic we won't bomb the Vatican.

In short, white privilege is the thing that allows you (if you're white) -- and me -- to view tragic events like this as merely horrific, and from the perspective of pure and innocent victims, rather than having to wonder, and to look over one's shoulder, and to ask even if only in hushed tones, whether those we pass on the street might think that somehow we were involved.

It is the source of our unearned innocence and the cause of others' unjustified oppression.

That is all. And it matters.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (29+ / 0-)

    Guilt is what you feel because of the kinds of things you've done. Responsibility is what you take because of the kind of person you are...

    by tim wise on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 11:55:02 AM PDT

  •  here you go, genius (5+ / 0-)

    I hope the bomber suspect is made of green screen so we can all project our most feared skin color onto him.

    I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

    by jbou on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 12:01:59 PM PDT

  •  CNN's John King is already "doing it"... (8+ / 0-)

    ...reporting upon statements about pictures of the person of interest being a "dark-skinned, brown male." Of course, he then went on to "report" that the suspect was in custody, which now totally contradicts official, second-hand statements from the authorities in both D.C. and Washington.

    Meanwhile, here we are--the hundreds of millions of people following this story--and the ONLY bit of information that is NOT being contracted is about the "suspect" (i.e.: "person-of-interest), and that "he's a dark-skinned, brown male."

    Regardless of whether it ends up being true or not, RIGHT NOW, the reality that it's the ONLY thing about the suspect (other than that they were in Lord & Taylor, and dropped a package at the second bombing site and then left) is that he's a "dark-skinned, brown male." And, that's just f*cked-up on all sorts of levels.

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 12:08:48 PM PDT

  •  Good points. (6+ / 0-)

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 12:11:25 PM PDT

  •  White privilege apparently includes not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    having to worry about being named on a terrorist list if you belong to the radical left.

  •  White privilege includes being able to walk (0+ / 0-)

    the streets of Boston after the bombing without fear of retaliation/vigilantism directed against a dark-skinned, possibly foreign male.

    Socialist? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    by Kimbeaux on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 12:48:13 PM PDT

  •  While I agree with your overall point on white (0+ / 0-)

    privilege, I think these arguments are constantly being used by "all groups", inlcluding here at DKos. I constantly hear people say, during many different types of stories, "If this person/victim/criminal/etc, was male/female/black/white/Jewish/Catholic/Muslim/a democrat/a republican/older/younger/rich/poor/famous/not famous/etc, they would be treated differently. The reaction would be different.  People's feelings would be different.  And for the most part, those saying this would be correct. This is the world we live in. As long as racism, sexism, and all types of predjudices exist, people will react based on these types of dispositions. If this guy turns out to be a right wing, white, male, gun loving, abortion hating Republician, who hates American policies, you will see a much different response on DKos than on Limbaugh's show. If the person is a Black Muslim who hates Americian policies, you will again see different responses. We all seem to try to use these types of tragedies to fit into how we view the world. Regardless, a person chose to intentionally hurt and kill innocent people. That is where the focus needs to be.

  •  Reminds of something Wanda Sykes said (0+ / 0-)

    The only people in this country who don't have to explain themselves because of their gender, race and religion are white christian men.

    Just another day in Oceania.

    by drshatterhand on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 01:57:18 PM PDT

  •  The public does what they're told and taught. (0+ / 0-)

    They're taught and have been taught by their own government and its media propaganda arm how to think, who to hate, who to distrust, and what is bad and what isn't.  The old white hat on the cowboy.  Now they're taught that brown people are terrorists and blacks and whites both fall for it.  Americans in general are as racist as they come for allowing the ruling class to cause genocides in Africa, mass poverty in South America and Africa, and to continue the drone wars over the skies of those "different" from them.   Some of the biggest supporters of war and imperialism are also the biggest critics of white privilege.

    "I'm an antiwar propagandist as accused by democrats. Not even republicans have called me that."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 02:10:30 PM PDT

  •  This article in the (3+ / 0-)

    New Yorker paints an ugly picture

    A twenty-year-old man who had been watching the Boston Marathon had his body torn into by the force of a bomb. He wasn’t alone; a hundred and seventy-six people were injured and three were killed. But he was the only one who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in “a startling show of force,” as his fellow-tenants described it to the Boston Herald, with a “phalanx” of officers and agents and two K9 units. He was the one whose belongings were carried out in paper bags as his neighbors watched; whose roommate, also a student, was questioned for five hours (“I was scared”) before coming out to say that he didn’t think his friend was someone who’d plant a bomb—that he was a nice guy who liked sports. “Let me go to school, dude,” the roommate said later in the day, covering his face with his hands and almost crying, as a Fox News producer followed him and asked him, again and again, if he was sure he hadn’t been living with a killer.
    Way to go again Fox dudes.

    Alos quote from the FBI who seem to be pretty pissed about the rank speculation...

    Ron Reagan: "Sarah Palin's constituency are people who wear red rubber noses and bells on their shoes."

    by AnnetteK on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 02:17:02 PM PDT

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