Justin Bieber vs. Richard Sherman: The Great American Cultural Hypocrisy

1609008_10152180339357489_438141912_nAn interesting thing happened today – Justin Bieber was arrested for allegedly driving while drunk, driving with an expired license, drag racing and resisting arrest.

Oh, and he’s only 19-years-old which, as most of you know, is below the legal age to drink alcohol.  Not to mention that according to police reports he admitted to smoking marijuana (in a state where it’s illegal) and taking prescription drugs.

Funny though, I don’t see many national news outlets calling him a “thug” or a “gangster” like they did with Seattle Seahawks player Richard Sherman following his emotional interview (and admittedly less than ideal behavior) after the Seahawks win over the 49ers this past Sunday.

I even searched for the arrest story to sift through some of the comments people had left.  While most weren’t flattering, I didn’t see people say things like “typical behavior” or calling him a “thug” or a “gangster” anywhere.

As I wrote about in another article, those labels were extremely common when describing Richard Sherman, yet seem absent when describing the criminal behavior of Justin Bieber.

What it all comes down to is the appearance of both and our hypocrisy as a society.  People see Justin Bieber and they basically see a clean-cut white adult man who looks like a kid, so they seem far less offended by his behavior.  When in fact he’s a 19-year-old adult who was drag racing while admittedly being wasted on alcohol, marijuana and prescription pills – not to mention how he was driving with an expired license and resisted arrest.

Charges which, due to his celebrity status, will undoubtedly bring nothing more than a slap on the wrist and probably a PR-forced short stint in rehab in the next few days.  If he were an ordinary citizen, he most certainly would face some kind of jail time.  And if he were an ordinary African-American citizen, I’m almost certain his punishments would even be more severe than a white counterpart.

I just found it incredibly hypocritical that when a Stanford-educated individual, who graduated second in his class in high school, gives a short emotional outburst on television people were so quick to label him a “thug” or a “gangster” clearly because of his race.  When nothing about the man, outside of the ignorant stereotypes about African-Americans many have, suggests he’s in any way a “gangster” or a “thug.” Hell, his behavior wasn’t even anything close to being illegal.

Yet when someone like Justin Bieber commits several crimes (potential felonies at that) I don’t see those same labels thrown his way.  Obviously because he’s white.

And while I don’t like judging anyone, if you did prescription drugs, smoked marijuana, drank alcohol, willingly got behind the wheel of a vehicle, drag raced and then resisted arrest – you’re a criminal and a thug. 

The completely different reactions both of these men seem to be getting just goes to show that as far as we have come in this country as it relates to racism and race relations, we still have a long way to go.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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