POC across social media have been having a field day with the news of Otto Warmbier's death. Now, for those of you who are like, "Um...who dat?", Otto was the White dude who went to North Korea, stole a government poster, and was sentenced to 15 years hard labor. Come to find out, he spent his first year and some change in a coma, and was medically evacuated, only to die once he returned to the States.
And the White tears haven't stopped flowing since.
First of all, people need to stop talking about the poster. This was never about the goddamn poster. Otto's crime was not theft, it was traveling to a country where he wasn't really wanted in the first place and then flexing his white privilege. He assumed nothing could go wrong and if it did, nothing bad could actually happen to him, because he was White and an American citizen.
It just so happened that North Korea didn't give a fuck.
For fuck's sake, North Koreans are trying to flee the country on the daily. Their government is literally fucking up its own people. Only someone with a profound sense of entitlement could think that any parts of Otto's behavior would be okay in a fascist, xenophobic country like North Korea.
As shocked as I am by the sentence handed down to Warmbier, I am even more shocked that a grown man, an American citizen, would not only voluntarily enter North Korea but also commit what’s been described a “college-style prank.” That kind of reckless gall is an unfortunate side effect of being socialized first as a white boy, and then as a white man in this country. Every economic, academic, legal and social system in this country has for more than three centuries functioned with the implicit purpose of ensuring that white men are the primary benefactors of all privilege. The kind of arrogance bred by that kind of conditioning is pathogenic, causing its host to develop a subconscious yet no less obnoxious perception that the rules do not apply to him, or at least that their application is negotiable. (Source)When we first got news that Otto was in a coma and had to be evacuated after only one year of his sentence, I saw commenters asking how much this coma cost his parents, as though they'd figured out a loophole to free him. Meanwhile, whoever actually put him in the coma was like, "Negative, bruh." They wanted him to serve his sentence, one way or another.
Someone recently said that you know Trump's presidency is seriously fucked when you've got Black people rooting for the FBI. The same thinking applies here. You know POC are beyond fed up with white privilege when they're rooting for North Korea.
North K. just showed the whole wide world what happens when white privilege has no value. Not minimal value or less value; I'm talking zero value. Singapore showed us something similar back in 1993 with Michael Fay, but in typical North Korean fashion, Otto Warmbier's punishment was kicked up a few levels. They sentenced a White American man to 15 years hard labor, beat his ass, and then shipped his comatose body home to his parents with a straight face. Like, damn.
Like...in case we didn't know not to fuck with them before, we definitely know it now.
And let's not get it twisted, y'all. All these White tears folks are shedding for Otto...it has nothing to do with the harsh sentence, the coma, or even the dying. If this had happened to a POC, 1) it wouldn't be international news, and 2) they wouldn't be batting an eye. They would not give a single, solitary fuck. White people are not grieving for Otto. They are grieving for white privilege, pure and simple. They just caught a crystal clear glimpse of a world without it, and it's got them thoroughly shook.