(This post was going to be about Goth culture, but then it turned into being about Columbine. Well stay tuned for the next post!) I remember when I was in high school, when the Columbine shooting happened. Afterwards there were many panicked attempts to blame various “bad influences” on the teenagers who committed the crimes. Video games! (this is is invoked every time there’s a shooting) Goth culture! Drugs! The Occult! At various schools across the country, dress codes were tightened, specifically targeting “deviant” clothing, make-up, jewelry and accessories.
Rather than urging protection for students against bullying, bullied students were looked upon with suspicion. They must be depressed, troubled youth barely stifling homicidal urges! people thought. So it was one big fun batch of scary things society doesn’t understand and likes to sweep under the rug, all in one! Mental illness! Guns! Odd youth subculture! Misfit teenagers! My high school was mostly Black, in a “bad neighborhood”, full of “bad kids” with “bad parents”. At least, that’s how it would all be portrayed if a shooting had happened there. It would be in the news, but not like Columbine. Besides, my school always had at least one cop stationed there, and constant paranoia about guns being brought in to the school. Columbine shocked not just due to the number of students shot, but also because it was in a Nice Innocent Middle/Upper Class Suburban White town. These were “good kids” from “good families”. Why and How could this have happened?!!!
Newsflash: White people own guns at twice the rates as Blacks and Latinos (granted the shooting happened in 1999, this data is from 2013, but if anything I bet the rates have gone up since then. OMG! Obama’s been elected! Must buy guns!
Also see this helpful graphic of mass shootings: notice almost all are white dudes. Frankly, I suspect in some cases their white privilege (i.e. lack of suspicion towards them compared to co-workers/other students/bystanders of other cultural background) may have actually helped them in carrying out the crimes.
My point here is not that “white people all suck” (while of course claiming that I’m the exceptionally enlightened white activist hipster that you should totes invite when you re-form the Black Panther Party or something) This is WordPress- not Tumblr, folks!
But I am pointing out the absurdity of lumping everyone with a vaguely similar skin tone together as a monolithic group that all thinks and acts alike.
Entry filed under: Politics/Culture. Tags: American culture, American teenagers, bullying, classism, clueless white people, columbine high school shooting, gun culture, guns, high school, media framing, media sensationalism, mental health, NIMBYism, paranoia, racism, stigma, teenagers, Those People, whiteness.