Not getting peanuts thrown at you — white privilege, part the many.

I’m sorry, I just can’t get over how utterly and entirely fucked up the following is.

You may recall that on the first day of the Republican National Convention, two white people threw peanuts at an African American. Here’s how that went down, in case you’ve forgotten:

An African American camerawoman for CNN who suddenly found herself assailed by peanuts at the Republican National Convention Tuesday reacted as many would. “What are you doing? Are you out of your damned mind?” she said, according to a friend.

“Here’s some more peanuts,” responded one of two “older-than-middle-aged white men,” the friend, Jamila Bey, told Journal-isms by telephone on Wednesday. “This is what we feed animals,” they said.

The woman in question, Patricia Carroll, later reported that she had not been handling her camera at the time, and that the peanut-throwers “didn’t know what I was doing. I happened to be standing there.”

And all of that is fucked up. Like, whoa.

But here’s the really and truly fucked up part, the part that should be in the Fucked Up Hall of Fame:

Patricia Carroll, the CNN camerawoman who was assaulted with peanuts and called an animal by two attendees at the Republican National Convention, told Journal-isms on Thursday that “I hate that it happened, but I’m not surprised at all.”

Carroll, who agreed to be named for the first time, said she does not want her situation to be used for political advantage. “This situation could happen to me at the Democratic convention or standing on the street corner. Racism is a global issue.” 

She wasn’t surprised. “At all.”

This American woman, a professional doing her job, was “not surprised at all” to have peanuts thrown at her and be called an animal. “This situation could happen to me at the Democratic convention or standing on the street corner.”

It’s not like I didn’t know that racism — real racism, of the kind that limits and delimits and takes lives — is still very much among us in these United States, and that it cares not for your achievements or position. I knew that.

But the fact that I am shocked and horrified that this woman wasn’t at all surprised to be treated like filth in a public setting, right there in front of God and everybody, is a little insight into just how little I really know.

**********

Earlier:

What is white privilege.

John Lennon, Rick Perry and words that are not ours.

White Americans really need to shut up and listen.

6 Comments

  1. Heavenscalyx

     /  August 31, 2012

    This reminds me of Michelle Obama’s response (pre-election) when someone asked her if she was worried about her husband being assassinated, and she said, “I don’t lose sleep over it. Because the realities are that as a black man, Barack can get shot going to the gas station.” It’s just a fact of life for people of color, especially African-Americans, and that’s something we white folks can never entirely wrap our heads around.

  2. stephen matlock

     /  August 31, 2012

    Yeah, this is what got me–not that it happened, but that it doesn’t generate immediate outrage of the kind a person like me would get if he were arbitrarily harassed. More along the lines of “Oh, that stuff happened again. Well, just be tough and be better than they are.”

    Mitt could have stood up there at his speech & said “My fellow Americans–we may disagree as to the policies we want, but there is one thing that is rock-bottom required of all Americans, and that is the simple human dignity we all possess, a dignity we should respect. And there is no place in our common America for disrespect or even the dismissal of disrespect. To Ms. Carroll I offer my deepest apologies at the thoughtlessness you experienced. To my fellow Republicans I say this, that you must all respect and acknowledge that we are _all_ Americans. And to the individuals who acted so crudely, you have no part in our Republican Party, and I don’t just ask you to leave–I demand it. I see Americans of all colors, and they are these: the red, white, and blue. You have no place in our party if you cannot respect the people around you who are your brothers and sisters and fellow citizens in this great republic.”

    Then Martians land and hand out candy. As long as we’re fantasizing.

    Elon White had a good article today, too, on a related topic.
    http://www.theroot.com/views/how-be-ally

  3. dzleprechaun

     /  August 31, 2012

    I’m surprised that it happened at the RNC, and I would be shocked if it happened at the DNC, but not surprised beyond that.

    I think you may be a little naive about violence, period, not just racism. I’ve spent a good amount of time traipsing about parts of DC where my whiteness makes me stand out. I’ve had rocks, bottles, and more Arizona ice tea cans that I care to count thrown at me in a public setting, right there in front of God and everybody. I don’t find that surprising either. Dudes – most of them can probably be called kids, but some of them have graduated (while failing to graduate) into dudes – know that I’m not from around there and obviously don’t run with no crew. So, might as well have some fun with an easy target.

    People’s essential impulses tend to come out when they’re in their element. These two bozos clearly felt like the RNC was a place where they could comfortably “be themselves.” Wonder how they could’ve gotten that idea…

    • Darth Thulhu

       /  September 1, 2012

      The willingness to show one’s rear when surrounded by family and tribe is really disheartening. It’s the distilled essence of cowardly bullying: “As soon as we outnumber you twenty to one, I’m going to get real ‘brave’ all of a sudden.”

      • dzleprechaun

         /  September 3, 2012

        Bullying is the perfect word for it, right down to the association with adolescents whose decency, maturity, and impulse control have not fully developed. Unfortunately, in some (many?) people, they never fully develop. One would have hoped that we would have the good sense not to elect them to positions of political influence.

  4. It wasn’t so much the peanuts being thrown that upset me, but the words used: “This is how we feed animals.”

    Almost 150 years since the end of The Civil War & this country is still filled with people who can look at another human being and consider them “animals.” It turns my stomach.