Can We Start the Conversation on White Male Violence Now?
It's time folks. It is time to have the dreaded conversation about white male violence. I know, I know. Conversations about white male mass murders are different (they “always” are). They aren't a representation of all white males. I know. I know because white male violence is NEVER a representation. It is an individual "lone wolf" act. The conversation on white male violence usually never occurs because the automatic retort is “what about black on black violence", "what about the violence in Chicago or in Baltimore", or the oldie but goodie "shouldn't you be worrying about what is occurring in your own community and fixing those issues?" We have heard it all. We have heard the dog whistle of black on black violence. This talking point is not meant to attempt to solve the issue that is the result of segregation, redlining, over policing, racism, or discrimination, it is meant to stop the conversation from continuing.
Just to end the conversation pivot on black on black violence, we have to remember that a majority of black on black violence or white on white violence is due to proximity. Housing is still segregated and therefore, people live among people who look like them. It is because of segregation we then see high rates of violence committed by and against those of the same race. However, people who want to have the black on black violence fail to reason black on black violence is dropping. Aaron Morrison explained in his article, "Stop Peddling the Black-on-Black Crime Myth. These DOJ Stats Prove It’s Not a Thing" that between 1994 and 2015, black-on-black violence dropped by 78%, from 66.6 to 14.5 victimizations per 1,000 black persons, according to the BJS’ report.
When the conversation about Chicago begins, it begins with the automatic assumption that the violence only started within the communities of color. As Lonnae O'Neal stated in an interview regarding Examining The Reasons For Chicago's Violence, we need to remember violence in Chicago goes way back. You know, this was mob central. This was Al Capone. These were gangster days. There are gangster tours of Chicago, and so violence didn't start on the south and west side of Chicago. Violence is very much baked into the cake and part of the story and the legend of Chicago. We want the violence in Chicago to be caused by A or A and B and C, when really, it's a hundred things over years and decades and generations.
Violence within Chicago has been long and ongoing, with a storied past that is often ignored because of the "value" of using the current violence in areas majority people of color. Chicago violence is consistently being used as an example of gun laws gone bad, an example of tougher gun laws not working, an example of how people of color are just plain violent, and lastly, as an example of people of color not being able to control themselves and are just inherently violent.
The reality is we need to switch gears to violence that has been sweeping the nation for decades, if not centuries, and has been shown to be getting progressively worse. White violence, white supremacy, white power, white hate, and white men are behind the consistent mass shootings we are seeing here in the US and there seems to be no let down in the near future. As the Reverend Traci Blackmon stated, "White male domestic terrorism is on the rise in America, and the white males in the White House refuse to acknowledge it. This is our nation's greatest threat: the conversation of white hate and white power."
White male violence is being committed in sprees by white males, and as long as guns are used, murder is able to be explained away as being separate incidents. These incidents have nothing to do with the issues of the availability of guns, mental illness, or white rage. No question is being asked as to why white males believe this is the best and ONLY way to handle their issues. It seems that not only is this question NOT being asked, but the deaths cause justifications and reasons of: "We have the 2nd amendment" "Good people need guns to defend against bad people" "Violent people will get guns any way they can", "Laws don't stop people from being violent", "It was a lone wolf attack", "It is an example of mental illness", and so on. The conversation around the 2nd amendment has stopped the conversation of white male masculinity, white male mental health, white male anger, and white male violence from occurring.
We are now seeing the method of handling this white rage is by committing a mass murder. Within the last 36 days, we have seen Stephen Paddock, Devin Kelley, and Scott Ostrem commit 78 murders between the three of them by shooting up venues society has considered as safe; churches, music festivals, and grocery stores. These white males have attacked areas where the majority of people are unarmed and have nowhere to hide. They are systemically looking for the ability to kill people while at their most vulnerable; when dancing to music or having their head down in prayer. They are not looking for those who they have a personal disagreement with, they are looking to just systemically annihilate those who are in their view, regardless of age, gender, race, or ability. We are seeing toddlers, teenagers, and the elderly being shot with no emotion.
White male violence is immediately talked away as a mental illness or the "lone wolf." The idea of the lone wolf allows white America, legislators, or the media to push away the idea that there is a larger issue at hand than one-off instances. Chauncy Alcorn explains that there’s no evidence yet to suggest Paddock was a white supremacist, but the massacre he carried out is the latest in a string of high-profile mass shooting incidents committed by “lone wolf” white men in 2017. Alcorn also lists, in addition with the "lone wolves" mentioned above, the following "lone wolves murders" within 2017; Caleb Sharpe, Spencer Hight, John Robert Neumann Jr., Randy Stair, and James T. Hodgkinson, Thomas Hartless. These white men are allowed to be individuals who are not a representative of their race when they kill. Individual cases then allow white America not see an issue that needs to be addressed. The individual cases allow blame to not be cast as blame is cast against people of color in similar situations.
"Gun Violence Archive executive director Mark Bryant says alleged killers like these men fit a common demographic profile for white mass shooters that is less scrutinized by lawmakers and the national media than inner-city gang violence and Islamic extremists." (Alcorn, 2017) White male violence is immediately talked about within the media of being a good person, no one thought they would ever do this, or they seemed "normal". There is no talk of why good, normal men would plot and plan to kill as many people as possible while at their most vulnerable time.
The reality is we should not be looking for ISIS members or stereotyping people by their religion or race. We should really be looking at white males with numerous guns or the ability to get numerous guns.
Alcorn wrote Bryant's thoughts best, “I’m a 62-year-old white guy. I am the epitome of a mass shooter profile,” Bryant said. “I’m from the South. I own guns. I shoot targets... I’m that sweet spot of what [law enforcement experts] expect a mass shooter to be.”
If the sweet spot of mass murders is a white male, then why isn't this demographic drawing more concern and worry? Lastly, how many murder sprees will it take until the title of lone wolf is taken off the white male and domestic terrorist is put on?
Alcorn, C. (2017, October 5). "Lone wolf” white male terrorists have increasingly been on the FBI’s radar. Retrieved from: https://mic.com/articles/184931/lone-wolf-white-male-terrorists-have-increasingly-been-on-the-fbis-radar#.W0XGd2FBN
Martin, M. (2016, September 3). Examining The Reasons For Chicago's Violence. Retrieved from: http://www.npr.org/2016/09/03/492549546/examining-the-reasons-for-chicagos-violence