This past weekend, Sunday, October 1, 2017, America experienced the largest mass shooting in modern history. My deepest thoughts and sympathies are with those affected by the turmoil in Las Vegas, Nevada. I couldn't imagine losing the life of a child, life partner, parent, or friend.
I don't need to continue about how tragic this event was and is. I believe this is something that we all understand - at least on the surface. Gun control also does not belong in this article. The issue that bubbles underneath is this idea and the forthcoming reality of white privilege.
To put this definition, in a nutshell, those that identify as white typically receive more social benefits while those are none of the above are met with disadvantages.
In recent years since 'political correctness' has taken rise, the term privilege has, also. It is a new wave style of viewing ourselves through a critical lens. As a white female, I am extremely fortunate to be able to go to a drugstore and pick any pale foundation I feel would match.
I am more than welcome to write my original name on a resume with no thought as to what others will think. However, as a woman, I also experience another type of disadvantage whereas men are more privileged - this is called male privilege (i.e. a difference in pay, types of work, credibility).
Privilege does not make you a bad person - we all experience some sort of privilege whether it be determined on our race, gender, socioeconomic status, or what-have-you. The issue here reiterated by the Las Vegas shooting is that white people are going under the radar of criminal acts and civil actions. Take a look at this headline:
There are many article headlines similar to these two. Many characterize Stephen Paddock as an everyday guy who gambled, loved music, lived a normal working life who we almost feel sympathetic for because of his dwindling mental health.
What do we know about the hobbies and lifestyles of other 'shooters' that aren't white? Nearly nothing. We don't know them as shooters, we know them as a terrorist.
I found the above photo to be very interesting - we can see where Paddock falls in. How many times have you heard, 'the suspect is a black male wearing a hoodie'?
The issue of white privilege doesn't stop at the Las Vegas shooting. There are many other events that emphasize how problematic this privilege is.
- Colin Kaepernick (black) - heavily criticized for taking a knee
- Brock Turner (white) - got away with 3 months of prison for rape
- Puerto Rico - unable to receive financial aid for hurricane relief
- Freddie Gray (black) - victim of police brutality
- White Supremacist Rally - able to rally with torches and be affiliated with one death while still be deemed as equal in terms of protests from both sides
- Travel Ban
- Removal of DACA
Take these examples and reverse them so that the person or group involved is of a different skin color. I assure their consequences would be much different.
There is a lot of layers as to why white people have obtained this level of privilege - a lot of it goes back to as far as the Spanish Inquisition and the Spaniards claiming of America. None of it is justified especially when we feel there is nothing we can do about the matter-of-facts.
Those being that Stephen Paddock had multiple guns - most of which have been altered to perform differently than intended. Hotel windows were smashed.
People were shot. Human beings died; many remain in critical condition. Paddock is not inherently 'evil' because he is white, but because of his intent. Each action was very intentional and driven by something that we will never know.
Yet somehow, Paddock is given generous headline reminiscing about his hobbies and past times. Change the color of Paddock's skin and imagine the headlines that would be given. Imagine the reaction from the president. Imagine that things might change.
It is not okay that the color of one's skin changes our reaction to the action. 59 people still died. Yet we are letting skin color get in the way of policy reform.
I am not pointing fingers or claiming all white people are racist or that minorities need saving from white people. Rather, we need to understand and accept our privilege and hold ourselves accountable for the people we claim to say we are. It's too easy to repost something on Facebook or Twitter claiming you believe certain ideas and thoughts.
Las Vegas is a great, resilient city as we have seen many come together to help those recover by providing medical supplies, donations, and blood. If you would like to help, please go to your local medical facility to donate.