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Radio Derb Is On The Air: Black Skin Privilege In The Navy Yard Shooting
The central issue arising from the Washington Navy Yard shooting is, to my way of thinking (and Ann Coulter’s) the way we treat severe mental illness as a Civil Right. I say some words about that in this week’s broadcast.
Then I explore some of the peripheral sociology, in particular the ways in which the shooting illustrates Black Privilege. I play the soundtrack of a Fox News clip from the day of the shooting.
You need to know that the interviewer is a black guy, and he's interviewing two witnesses, a white woman and a black man. Here we go.
Black interviewer: Could you describe the guy? What was he dressed like?
White female witness: He was tall. He appeared to be dark-skinned. He did not have, um, I don't think he had a hat on. We were looking but, ah, he was down the hall far enough that we couldn't see a face, but we saw him hold the rifle then we saw him raise it and aim it in our direction.
Black interviewer: He appeared to be a black person?
Black male witness: A tall black guy, yeah.
Black interviewer: He was a tall black guy.
Black male witness: Tall black guy, yes.
Black interviewer: And did he say anything?
Black male witness: He didn't say a word, didn't say a word.
Black interviewer: You just looked at him? . . .
Just listen to the social dynamic there! Standing next to a black guy, being asked questions by another black guy, the white woman goes into race cringe mode. The shooter “appeared to be dark-skinned.” He wasn't wearing a hat.
It's like watching a subatomic particle approaching another one of the same charge. The repulsive force gets stronger as the moving particle gets closer. It gets to within a certain distance—He appeared to be dark-skinned—then the repulsion is too strong and the particle bounces off the force field and flies away in a random direction: He wasn't wearing a hat. Why should he have been wearing a hat? Hardly anybody does.
The black witness, though, has black privilege—the privilege to speak frankly and honestly: A tall black guy, yeah. The black interviewer likewise: He was a tall black guy.
It's a captivating little snippet, like something out of a Tom Wolfe novel. You could use it as a classroom illustration to teach a group of visiting space aliens about racial etiquette in early 21st-century America.
You know what I mean by space aliens, right? Those critters that . . . appear to be green-skinned.
Listen to the whole broadcast at Taki’s Magazine. It includes a brief tribute to singer-songwriter Jim Croce, who died forty years ago Friday. Here’s another one, which came to mind—I can’t imagine why—as I was reading Steve’s posts about Smith College.