How the History of White Privilege contributes to patterns of Modern Day Mass Shooting
Aja King, Ed.D., LPCC
November 2nd, 2017
October 1st, 2017 marked the day a distraught shooter entered the MGM hotel in Las Vegas, and murdered 58 people and injured 546 attendees of a country music concert. I will not mention the name of the shooter, because his identity does not matter. Mass murders by white men have been occurring since history could be recorded. Case in point, on 1873 in Colfax, La., angry whites gunned down and hung a minimum of 150 African Americans. Also, who can forget in December 29th, 1890 when U.S. Army soldiers murdered over 200 Lakota Native Americans with automatic weapons at . Then there was the time when over 300 people died in Tulsa, Okla., when, once again, angry whites torched an African-American neighborhood. Last point, on September 2nd, 1885, what would become known as the Rock Springs massacre, angry white miners in Wyoming went after Chinese miners and slaughtered over 28 people with guns and hatchets and torching their neighborhoods.
I think you get the point. But in each instance, angry whites have destroyed, dismantled, and murdered when they believed their livelihood seemed threatened. Take note, white people were somewhat “okay” when slavery was established. However, in 1862 Fredrick Douglas wrote the compelling letter, “What Shall Be Done with the Slave if Emancipated”, a response to President Lincoln’s address to Congress. Lincoln and Congress asked one question: what should we do with the free slaves. Douglas’s response is epic. What should we do with the freed slaves? Nothing. “Mind your business, and let them mind theirs. Your doing with them is their greatest misfortune. They have been undone by your doings, and all they now ask, and really have need of at your hands, is just to let them alone” (Douglas, 1862). Ok, so history moves forward, and in 1896 the Plessy vs. Ferguson case declares the legalization of segregation which was made known as, “separate but equal”. This idea stated that “coloreds” could have the same facilities, but separate from their white counterparts. Unfortunately, separate but equal was not enough, therefore, Brown vs. The Boards of Education required integration.
So how is this all connected to white rage and mass shootings. Simple. The initial concern of Lincoln and Congress was based on the fear that blacks would kill their former masters, take jobs, essentially not be able to care for themselves, and ultimately, cause more chaos within white society. Yet, there was no stopping integration, civil right which has progressed to political correctness and “safe spaces”. The white man’s nightmare was the loss of control of power. Mass shootings are based on power and control, and when a person no longer feels as if they have those elements, nothing seems to matter. Moving back to the Las Vegas shooter, police are reporting that he was a wealthy man who enjoyed gambling, but evidence is showing that he was losing money (loss of control) and the respect from the casinos which he frequented (loss of power). If you look through history, white rage was built on power and control, nonetheless, this loss of control has caused intergenerational rage (i.e. mass shootings). So next time a mass shooting occurs, do not look for mental health initially, but rather, search the teachings of the individual’s life, and understand the message that he received indicating, “when my world is chaotic, let me introduce you to the same”.