AME Shooting: Double Standards

[Content Note: Racism; eliminationist violence; white privilege.]

As I have mentioned, the apologia on behalf of Dylann Roof, by individual white people and by the media, is already coming fast and hard. We are, as but one example, being admonished to consider whether he is "concentrated evil" or just a "sweet kid," a bullshit dichotomy proposed in order to force a choice between rank monsterization that absolves him of human accountability or infantilizing sympathy that absolves him of adult accountability.

screen cap of tweet posted by the Seattle Times reading: 'Concentrated evil' or 'sweet kid': Details on the suspect in Charleston church shootings

In either case, we are certainly to understand that he is not accountable for his vile actions.

One of the things we all can do—and which white people must do—is identify and push back against the double standards that we see in language and imagery that is used to discuss a white man who killed nine black women and men in a heinous act of terrorism, versus the language and imagery that is used to discuss people of color who commit violence as well as people of color who are victims of violence.

This is a place in which to highlight all of those double standards.

If a person of color commits an act of mass violence based on the identity of hir victims, zie is a terrorist and hir crime his terrorism. If a white person commits an act of mass violence based on the identity of hir victims, zie is a "lone gunman" and hir crime is, at best, a hate crime.

Black people even suspected of a crime are frequently killed in the street by police. A white man who killed nine people is taken into custody alive.

Black teenagers killed by police or non-black people are called thugs and their lives put on trial and they are described as "men." A white man who killed nine people is called a "boy," a "kid," and his life is not interrogated, but mined for evidence that he was "mentally ill."

White people are not being explicitly asked to condemn this crime, on the basis that the shooter is white, the way black people are explicitly asked to condemn a black person's criminality. (Or alleged criminality.)

White families are not being pathologized and held to blame for Dylann Roof's mass murder, the way that black families are pathologized and held to blame for black people's criminality. (Or alleged criminality.)

People who are extremely vocal about "religious freedom" when it comes to homophobes who don't want to bake a cake or pharmacists who don't want to dispense birth control are suddenly very silent on black people's religious freedom being encroached by terrorist acts in their houses of worship.

Any crime committed by any black person is said to be reflective of intrinsic problems with "black culture," but crimes committed by white people, even those with an obvious link to white supremacy, are considered isolated incidents.

This is hardly a comprehensive list. Please add in comments your own observations of racist double standards, and how they are being engaged in order to defend Dylann Roof, absolve him of accountability, redirect attention away from white supremacy, and minimize the gravity and intent of his crimes.

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