Calling All White People, Part 31: Those Covington teens are no angels

Calling All White People, Part 31

(A periodic attempt to mobilize white people for something other than supporting just other melanin-deficient folks and maintaining a status quo of a nation geared toward whiteness as the baseline and the norm)

By An Average White Guy

TODAY’S EPISODE: Wearing MAGA hats should have been the end of the debate  

[To find other installments of “Calling All White People,” click here]

I don’t know how you could have missed the news, but in case you don’t know what I mean when I say I’m going to talk about the Covington teens and Nathan Phillips, here is a link to a Vox article that I feel may be among the more balanced/neutral of the bunch.

So, we started with a viral video that had people decrying the teens as racist and aggressive…then we had the release of a much longer video that shows a group of Black Hebrew Israelites having shouted unpleasant things at the teens and other occurrences that add a ton more context and nuance. The release of that longer video had conservatives shouting “fake news” and saying that the teens were rushed to judgment, though frankly a lot of people have noted that the longer video, while it may make the adults look less sympathetic, might make the teens look as bad as before, and maybe even worse.

Regardless, I’m going to focus on the teens. All indications are that their school is fine with racism (students in blackface taunting opposing Black athletes at games) and that their parents are largely racist as well, because that’s where kids tend to learn this stuff the most strongly.

And I am going to say this: Those teens, especially the smirking future Brett Kavanaugh we see in the face of lead Covington teen Nick Sandmann, are racist.

I said it. I’m not taking it back. They’re racist.

Whether or not the adults in question made the best choices, and whether the initial story was skewed, those teens are not victims here. They were heralds and foot soldiers for white supremacy, and in my mind they got what they deserved.

And no, don’t give me arguments about how they’re just kids when Black children and Black teens are so often killed or harmed by police and civilian white people and we’re told “they should have known better” or “if they had just complied better”…

More importantly, if you’re one of the people who initially thought “those teens were repugnant” and now, in the wake of the longer video and wider discussion, you are ready to defend them or cut them slack, let me break some things down for you:

Those teens were in DC to march against women’s bodily autonomy. Yeah, so what if that’s not related to racism? It sets the stage. The kids weren’t there on some random, innocent trip. They were there as religious foot soldiers. They were there to agitate and apparently did engage in taunting of women while there. Certainly, any pro-choice woman would have rightly seen them as aggressors and opponents, and rightly so. Sure, the teens have every right if they want to espouse extreme views that advance a religious and patriarchical agenda that takes away women’s autonomy. But it establishes that they weren’t innocent bystanders.

They were wearing MAGA hats. This is the most damning thing of all. The whole “Make America Great Again” motto, and especially with those red hats, is a rallying cry of the Trump regime. He has marketed and used it profusely. And the “great again” part of that clearly aims to elevate white people generally and white men in particular. If the teens’ purpose was to rally for the right to life on behalf of unborn children, why are they so prominently wearing what is essentially the modern-day equivalent of a KKK hood? Because they were there to proudly declare their allegiance to Trump’s agenda, to white supremacy and to intolerance, not simply to a “pro-life” stance.

They took that shit right to some Black people. Say what you will about whether the Black Hebrew Israelites were obnoxious or out of line. Perhaps they were. But those teens took those MAGA hats and their MAGA agenda to a spot where there were Black people. Bottom line: Wearing a MAGA hat and approaching any person of color, but most particularly Black or Indigenous people of color, is an act of aggression by its very nature. You might as well be wearing a Nazi patch or some white supremacy pin on your jacket.

They surrounded, blocked and mocked an Indigenous elder. Even if you argue that Phillips should not have intervened to try to head off potential trouble between the Covington teens and the Black Hebrew Israelites…even if you say that his chanting and drumming was “in the face” of Sandmann and therefore aggressive…that boy stood there defiantly with a smirk on his face and a MAGA hat on his head blocking Phillips, and his friends were all around that old man, and they taunted that Indigenous elder with “tomahawk chops” and “war whoops” which is about as classically anti-Native American racist as you can damn well get. And threatening, too. Multiple high-schoolers against a single old guy?

Those teens stuck their foot in it, and they got pushback. If you don’t want trouble, don’t start trouble. And they were there to start it. And when they got caught going too far, they suddenly cried “victim” and the mainstream media gave them all the airtime in the world to humanize themselves. The most peaceful person in the situation, Phillips, is made into a villain, as countless Black and Indigenous and Latinx and Arab and Muslim people have before him.

Whiteness is always allowed that chance to redeem and humanize itself in this country, while people of color rarely get that chance. And that is the ultimate “race card.” Sandmann and the other Covington teens and their parents are playing that card…that “Get out of jail free” card that most white people get in multiples while non-white people get few second chances…and that makes them racist. Out in the media crying “foul” when they were the foul ones to begin with.

Not just racist, but white supremacist. Trayvon Martin and other Black youth have been tagged as “they’re no angels” after they became victims, as a way to make them less sympathetic. Well, these white teens are no angels either, and they aren’t victims of anything but their own hubris and cockiness.

And so, while there may be blame to spread around, most of it lies at the feet of white people, yet again. Because they started the shit to begin with.

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4 thoughts on “Calling All White People, Part 31: Those Covington teens are no angels”

  1. I would add that in other full posts, there are earlier scenes of the Covington crew harassing young women, yelling en masse, taunting at them as they walked past, hardly sweet “minding our own businee, only responding when provoked” behavior. Not really the kind of behavior one would hope of supposedly moral and Christian-led youths, albeit still learning.

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