Thursday, February 20, 2014

Still Waiting For That National Conversation About White Masculinity

The death of Jordan Davis has rightly and obviously triggered discussion of racism, "stand your ground" laws, and our broken justice system.  In addition, it should also be prompting a discussion of white masculinity and its dysfunction.  Michael Dunn appeared to have been inflamed by some sort of slight to his masculine honor by black men, who also supposedly posed some kind of threat to him deserving of death.  I am having a hard time separating his easy readiness to dispatch violence in this manner from his sense of offended white masculine honor, but few out there have been commenting on this.

White American masculinity is seriously messed up.  It is based around fantasies of control, subjugating others, and using violence to solve problems.  I said as much in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook horrors, since white men disproportionately account for the perpetration of mass shootings.  These shooters are often failures who can't reconcile their inability to measure up to the expectations that white masculinity has laid out for them.

The case of Richie Incognito and his racist bullying has got me thinking about this, too.  White boys are  taught that they are the masters of the universe, and implicitly understand that they have the power and right to do violence to others to maintain their positions.  The justice system and institutionalized racism have had a lot to do with Michael Dunn's acquittal on murder charges, but the patterns of thought and lived behavior that allowed him to pull the trigger and then go about his business as if nothing happened ought to be critically examined, too.  Until we have that needed national conversation and start acting upon it, more will die.

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