I try to encourage commenting on DCentric because when readers share their perspectives, it can be edifying. For example, check out the comment Molly W. left under my last post, “Gray, Lanier and Thomas Tour North Capitol After Murders“. It deserves to be seen (emphasis mine):
In my own neighborhood (east of Capitol Hill), crime against white residents consistently seem to provoke an outcry that we just don’t hear when there are crimes against black residents.
However, it often comes across poorly to imply people are overreacting to a crime against a white person — it seems like an attempt to dismiss the white victim. Ideally, instead of making less fuss about white victims, we’d make just as much fuss about black victims. Sadly, I don’t see that happening any time soon.
I think a small part of it is access — I hear about many of these crimes on the neighborhood e-mail list, which seems to be whiter than the community at large (though that’s just my guess, I can’t say for sure).
More than that, I think it’s a lot easier for white residents to imagine that black victims of crime are somehow complicit — attacked b/c they’re in the drug trade or dating criminals or whatever. When a white person (or even someone who isn’t white, as long as s/he isn’t black) is attacked, there seems to be a much stronger, visceral sense of “that could’ve been *me*” among white neighbors.
(I’m white myself, don’t know if that makes a difference.)
The fact that Molly is white doesn’t make a difference to me, because I am grateful for all of my readers, especially the blue ones (old-school Smurfs fan, here). It does make a difference in a larger way though, because I think it’s important for such points to be heard and context matters. I know POCs who would be surprised by how well Molly groks these issues. It’s thoughtful to consider very real obstacles like the digital divide when contemplating why bad news might inspire certain reactions in certain groups. I want to take this opportunity to thank readers like Molly, who are kind enough to share their experiences.
Even comments that include potentially offensive language and a more controversial point of view can be thought-provoking. Here’s DCentric reader JP’s take on the same post (again, emphasis mine):
I grew up in a rural, southern county that was mostly black. Most of the white and black folks got along just fine. However, there were minorities of both that were supremely and willfully ignorant, jobless, lazy, entitled, and viciously and unapologetically violent. Let’s not forget racist too. The whites like this we referred to as “white trash.” They would occasionally raise a child who, by a fluke of luck, was smart and motivated enough to get the hell away from the horrific culture that their family was a part of.
The “black trash” is no different. Take both groups of people, change their skin color to green, and they are identical in their counterproductive habits and culture.
It just so happens that particular neighborhoods of DC have huge swaths of “black trash” living there. Culturally, it might as well be a giant, meth filled trailer park in Ohio or Kentucky.
Decent, hard working, productive people are happy when wealthier people move into their neighborhoods, but racist trash of both colors just look at the newcomers with scorn and contempt.
Its not white people killing people in DC. It’s trash that happens to be black. I’m tired of hearing these trashy, racist jerks complain about DC becoming less black. When white people complain about their neighborhoods becoming less white, we call them what they are: racists. This is no different.
After reading it, I couldn’t help but be reminded of that infamous Chris Rock bit from “Bring the Pain“, which was so controversial, he no longer performs it. I think there’s something to acknowledging that there are behaviors or pathologies which neither race has a monopoly on, but employing the word “trash” often alienates people– of both races! Additionally, leveling charges of “Reverse Racism” can also annihilate opportunities for solidarity; whether we realize it or not, issues of privilege intersect with race and suddenly what seems obvious or simple…isn’t.