Omar Thornton...Anything But Racism

Yeah, Right

Should Thornton have killed those people?  Uh…no.  What he did was wrong and in no way the proper course of action - at all.  However, he's not the only one at fault here.  Come to think of it, there's plenty of blame to go around in this situation.

Just as we acknowledge the wrongdoings of Omar Thornton, the wrongdoings of his employers and his coworkers should also be acknowledged and unequivocally condemned.

Now, normally, when events such as these occur, I post comments by racist sociopaths, and then do some sort of analysis.  But I vowed to change my blog direction, and here’s a good place to start.

The lil sis pointed something out to me.  When Thorntorn’s massacre first hit the news, the story wasn’t aired completely.  Initially, his race wasn’t even mentioned in some cases (a rarity when POC are involved).  But most importantly, what I noticed, is that when the story began to fully emerge, reports of his being racially harassed surfaced first.  Of course…the news is now singing a different tune.  First, we read about the “resignation” (not firing), then we read about stolen beer caught on tape, and finally, we get to “allegations” of racism.  And now the words of living white folks are being trotted out to discredit those of a dead black man.  These new verses aren’t being sung for the benefit of POC, by the way; they know better than to try to convince us.

POC have denounced racism in America for centuries.  Thornton’s experiences strike us as neither new nor implausible.  We know what it’s like to be the targeted, the expendable one, or the human shield, or the perpetual scapegoat, or the financially rejected, or all of the above.  We are not even remotely “shocked” to read Thornton complained about racism, and how absolutely nothing was done to correct the problem.  To us, that’s simply daily life in America going exactly according to schedule.

The only thing that seems “new” here is how Thornton handled his situation.

According to one blogger, black men killing over racism is small but developing trend.  So in typical American fashion, denial has raised its dear little head.  This is why the news is doing its damnedest to paint Thornton as just another dangerous black man from the ghetto.  This is why the news articles are asking coded questions like, “Are we safe at work?” when they actually mean, “Should companies keep hiring POC?”

And let’s not forget: this is why White America is eagerly using this opportunity to say, “See!  It’s not just white guys shooting up the workplace!  They do it too!"

Um, no…we don’t.  White male shooters do what they do because they experience a loss of privilege, a loss of being in control, and a loss of complete assurance about their social, financial, and professional security.  POC don’t have that type privilege, control, or security to begin with.  So when the shooter’s a POC, it’s for other reasons (subtle pun intended).  Omar Thornton was racially harassed – plain and simple.  The younger generations of color don’t “tolerate” racism the way previous ones did, so when they read about men like Thornton, once again, they’re not “shocked”.  If anything, they are – as one of my old sociology professors probably is right now – wondering why this doesn’t happen more often (not that it should, by just how it doesn’t).

Meanwhile, the sociopaths are brushing off Thornton’s reports of racism as “playing the race card.”  Once again, kids: if your skin-tone is considered a disadvantage within a society, “playing” it is the dumbest thing you can do.  Thornton knew good and well his ass was headed for death row anyway, and that his complaints of racism weren’t going to change any of that.  He just needed people to know why he did what he did on his way out.  POC understand that; WP don’t want to.

Just to clarify once more, this is not about absolving Omar Thornton, but that his employers are to blame as well.  They should’ve identified the employees who were harassing Thornton.  They should’ve fired the ring leader, suspended the desperate wannabes without pay, and cut the work hours of the weak-willed followers.  I think the families of the deceased – Thornton’s included – should unite and sue the company into the ground for negligence, incompetence, and overall irresponsibility.

Self-Defense 101

And POC, you already know this, but it helps to read it again: never presume you’re “safe” in America, no matter where you are.  Protect yourself in the workplace by every legal means necessary.  Build your professional support systems from the get-go.  Start befriending lawyers if you have to.  This the digital age: record whatever you can and make several copies.  Document incidents and collect evidence before reporting racism in writing.  Contact law enforcement if the situation is severe enough.  Submit a police report and file a civil suit against the specific culprit if possible.

Do not let your employers intimidate you.  Talk to your EEO officers.  If no one’s willing to handle it, then they’re basically saying, “Yes, we know you’re being dehumanized…just deal with it” – do your best to get such dismissals either in writing or in a recording.  Let your employers know you will get both local and national media involved if effective action isn’t taken.  If they try to get you to wait before contacting the media, issue a very tight deadline to your company and make it clear you don’t want an apology – you need action.  If they try to get you to “talk things out” with the soulless, arrogant vampire who's been harassing you, don't fall for it.

Which brings me to another issue: do not try to “educate” your harasser; it’s not your job and even if you volunteer, it’s not going to work.  So don’t try to empathize with them either; whatever childhood or marital issues they’re plagued with are not your concern.  Their problems are not your problems, and if they want the “human” treatment, then they need to give it to others as well.

And don’t be afraid to take it all the way.  Inform your local and state politicians; contact your Attorney General’s office if you have to.  And don’t forget human rights agencies either:

- Alabama Office of Equal Employment & Civil Rights
- Alaska Education - Civil Rights
- Arizona Attorney General's Office - Civil Rights Division
- Arkansas Fair Housing Commission
- California Attorney General's Office - Civil Rights Division
- Colorado Civil Rights Division
- Connecticut Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities
- Delaware Secretary of State's Office of Human Relations
- District of Columbia Office of Human Rights
- Florida Commission on Human Relations
- Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity
- Hawaii Civil Rights Commission
- Idaho Human Rights Commission
- Illinois Department of Human Rights
- Indiana Civil Rights Commission
- Iowa Civil Rights Commission
- Kansas Human Rights Commission
- Kentucky Commission on Human Rights
- Louisiana Commission on Human Rights
- Maine Human Rights Commission
- Maryland Commission on Human Relations
- Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
- Michigan Department of Civil Rights
- Minnesota Department of Human Rights
- Mississippi Department of Employment Security
- Missouri Commission on Human Rights
- Montana Human Rights Bureau
- Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission
- Nevada Equal Rights Commission
- New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights
- New Jersey Division on Civil Rights
- New Mexico Human Rights Division
- New York State Division of Human Rights
- North Carolina Human Relations Commission
- North Dakota Division of Human Rights
- Ohio Civil Rights Commission
- Oklahoma Human Rights Commission
- Oregon Civil Rights Division
- Pennsylvania Civil Rights Enforcement Section
- Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights
- South Carolina Human Affairs Commission
- South Dakota Division of Human Rights
- Tennessee Human Rights Commission
- Texas Civil Rights and Discrimination
- Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division
- Vermont Civil Rights Unit
- Virginia Council on Human Rights
- Washington State Human Rights Commission
- West Virginia Human Rights Commission
- Wisconsin Equal Rights Division
- Wyoming Labor Standards Division

And the classics:

- EEOC
- NAACP
- ACLU
- Amnesty International
- OSHA

(This advice is good for workplace victims of other –isms as well, by the way.  Well…at least most of them.)

Comments

  1. Asian men have killed over racism, too: Virginia Tech. Cho explicitly spoke out against privilege in his manifesto.

    When I first heard the white owner of the beer company deny that Thornton was racially harassed I thought, "Damn, they'll deny anything and everything about racism."

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  2. I am confused how is it that someone was stealing and they have the video, but the police stated that he was suspected of stealing. When the police was asked by a reporter did you get to view Mr. Thornton's video he didn't answer the question. I could see the video go viral on youtube and the video of Mr. Thornton stealing go missing in action.

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  3. @ hunter

    This occurred to me as well, which is why I tried to stick to the term "POC" rather than strictly keepin' it black. Virginia Tech in particular kept popping in my mind, especially after that young man repeatedly asked for help and was ignored.

    @ Cher

    Thanks for that - I didn't know much about the beer, just what the news was reporting. Either way, I think it's just another "It's all Thornton's fault" tactic because all these employers think about when they have a workplace shooting is saving their own ass.

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  4. "Um, no…we don’t. White male shooters do what they do because they experience a loss of privilege, a loss of being in control, and a loss of complete assurance about their social, financial, and professional security. POC don’t have that type privilege, control, or security to begin with. So when the shooter’s a POC, it’s for other reasons (subtle pun intended). Omar Thornton was racially harassed – plain and simple. The younger generations of color don’t “tolerate” racism the way previous ones did, so when they read about men like Thornton, once again, they’re not “shocked”. If anything, they are – as one of my old sociology professors probably is right now – wondering why this doesn’t happen more often (not that it should, by just how it doesn’t)."

    QUOTED FOR TRUTH!!!!!!

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  5. "White male shooters do what they do because they experience a loss of privilege, a loss of being in control, and a loss of complete assurance about their social, financial, and professional security."

    Amen.

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  6. The moment I read that Thornton had "reputedly" had racist experiences at his workplace, I knew it was all over. The word of his family was then compared to the words of white people saying "He never complained about anything" and, my personal favorite, something along the lines of "Our company doesn't practice racism". Now that I think about it, it kind of reminds me of Ahmedinejad saying "In Iran, there are no homosexuals". It's just one of those ass-saving moves (the company's, not Ahmedinejad's) pulled to make it seem like the racism is "an excuse".

    Nowhere in these reports does anyone bother thinking, "Gee, with such dismissive co-workers, it's no wonder he never bothered talking to them about any racial problems! He probably kept it private with his family because those were the only people he could trust to talk about it". Oh, and the race card has undoubtedly been trotted out by now and waved around. Pleh.

    Agreeing with your post. (by the way, I found your blog from a link from RVCBard and I really like it so far)

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  7. "White male shooters do what they do because they experience a loss of privilege, a loss of being in control, and a loss of complete assurance about their social, financial, and professional security."

    That would also explain why most rapists are white men. At first I thought that fact was unusual: rape is about power, but white men already have the lion's share of power. Of course, after thinking about it, it starts to make sense. White men think they are entitled to everything, when that doesn't happen they experience some major cognitive dissonance.

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  8. Ding...Ding.. me too!!

    Agreeing with your post. (by the way, I found your blog from a link from RVCBard and I really like it so far)

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  9. I really hope this isn't derailing too badly. Actors are finally starting to complain about casting roles! Now if we can only get A-list white celebrities to help...

    http://www.indiavision.com/news/article/entertainment/89433/

    This made me sooooo happy. Well, most of the responses he got didn't. I wasn't sure where to put this so you don't have to post the comment.

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  10. White male shooters do what they do because they experience a loss of privilege, a loss of being in control, and a loss of complete assurance about their social, financial, and professional security. POC don’t have that type privilege, control, or security to begin with.

    This reminds me of a recent Tim Wise article:

    http://www.redroom.com/blog/tim-wise/of-collateral-damage-and-roosting-chickens-reflections-racism-economy-and-high-cost-wh

    In fact, a comprehensive comparison of various social programs in the U.S. and Europe found that racial hostility to people of color better explains opposition to high levels of social spending here than any other economic or political variable. To the extent the public--especially the white public--perceives blacks as lazy and too dependent on public assistance, they come to oppose additional spending on programs of social uplift. Then, when they find themselves in need of the same assistance it isn't there for them....

    This, it seems, is where much of white America finds itself right now: unmoored, untethered, adrift on a sea of shattered illusions. Interestingly, had the society been less committed to the myth than to creating a reality of equity and opportunity for all,...Had the culture not set white men up to expect the world, precisely because they were deemed superior to everyone else, the mental anguish and esteem-battering currently underway could have been prevented. Perhaps if we had been serious about making the deed match the word, and had we encouraged the kind of solidarity needed to make a society livable for all, things would have been different.


    It's worth contemplating the lengths through which some people will go to maintain their illusions even when it clearly, literally, in this case, blows up in their faces.

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  11. Aha - a loophole to commenting!!!!

    @ eternal-llama

    Thanks for the article! Excellent quotes!

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