Where’s The Fox News Outrage Over The University of Kentucky Riots?

Eastern Kentucky University junior Eric Kuertz, right, takes a selfie with UK Police officer Lt. Greg Hall as Kentucky fans react to their team's semi-final victory on State St., Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo)

Eastern Kentucky University junior Eric Kuertz, right, takes a selfie with UK Police officer Lt. Greg Hall as Kentucky fans react to their team’s semi-final victory on State St., Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo)

Saturday night was disappointing for fans and students of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team. The Kentucky Wildcats, who were heavy favorites to win the NCAA tournament, were defeated 71-64 by the Wisconsin Badgers. Wildcat fans reacted in a way that unfortunately, is all too common in the sporting world. They decided to become destructive. According to NBC News, multiple objects were set on fire in the streets of Lexington, Kentucky. While several people were taken to the hospital for minor injuries, no one was seriously hurt. Thirty-one arrests were made and by Sunday morning, Lexington police had the situation under control.

Let’s compare the reaction of this incident with the reaction to Ferguson, Missouri. In August of 2014, black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer. Ferguson, being a predominantly African American community, reacted with an emotional protest to the unwarranted shooting of Michael Brown. During the protest, several fires were started.

Conservative America went full on racist, referring to the fire starters in Ferguson as “thugs.” When confronted, these conservatives stated that anyone could be a “thug,” and stated that referring to them as ‘thugs’ was not based on them being black, but that destructive actions of that nature warranted the “thug” label regardless of the color of the perpetrators.

So what are we hearing now that a predominantly white crowd decided to set fire to objects in their own community? Crickets. Where are the conservatives waiting on hold with their local right wing talk radio show to quickly label the perpetrators in Lexington as “thugs?” They aren’t. Because when white people set things on fire in their own community, they are just kids having fun, right?

The difference in reaction to the two situations can be summed up by two words. White Privilege.

White privilege is a topic that always seems to make people uncomfortable. On a daily basis, I witness countless situations that reveal not only how white privilege exists, but also how it is built into everyday life for a white person. Until we as a society become more comfortable discussing white privilege, we can never have a real conversation about race in America.

When the subject of white privilege is discussed, I realize that many white Americans do not understand the true meaning of the term. Feminist scholar Peggy McIntosh describes it best by saying “White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.” Since white people are born with these built in advantages, they never have to think about them. In essence, it is the absence of any race discrimination.

White Americans never have to worry about being pulled over by the police for the color of their skin. They never have to worry about being watched more closely while shopping in a store, and they never have to worry about what it feels like to be a minority. Being a white person in America has built in privileges, and it’s time that all Americans come to terms with this fact.

Now of course, the vast majority of conservatives (mostly white males) deny the fact that white privilege exists. Take Bill O’Reilly for example. During an episode of the O’Reilly factor in August of 2014, O’Reilly stated, “There is no question that African Americans have a much harder time succeeding in our society than whites do.” In hearing this statement, one would assume that O’Reilly had finally discovered the truth for a change. O’Reilly then goes on to state that he does not believe in white privilege. Yes, Bill O’Reilly stated that white privilege exists, only to follow that up by stating it does not. But that is Fox News in a nutshell, right?

When we delve into some of the basic statistics regarding arrests, we see that white privilege once again plays a huge part. Although African Americans only make up 13.2 percent of the United States population, they are arrested at ten times the rate of white citizens. This according to a study conducted by USA Today which focused on seventy police departments spanning from Connecticut to California.

Another prime example of white privilege can be seen in this video created by Jason Roberts, host of the YouTube channel “Simple Misfits.” As you can see, Roberts (a white man) attempts to pick the lock of his car with a coat hanger. Several pedestrians, and even a police officer pass Roberts, but no one gives him a second look. Next, Roberts has his friend (a black man) attempt to break into the same car. His friend quickly garners attention and within two minutes, a police officer approaches him with his gun drawn. Soon, Roberts’ friend is in handcuffs and surrounded by multiple police officers. This video is a perfect demonstration of white privilege.

My personal belief is that many white Americans deny white privilege because it is easily confused with white guilt. White Americans should not apologize for being white. We should, however, be willing to face the reality that is right in front of us. The first step in understanding how to repair race relations in America is to understand how those of other races feel. As long as white privilege continues to be denied by many white Americans, we will never be able to move on as a nation, and take real steps to remove the systematic racism that is built into America’s very fabric.

Ben Madison

Ben Madison is a Liberal political activist who believes in an America where everyone is afforded the opportunities to achieve their goals and dreams regardless of color, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. He has spent time in Texas as well as North Carolina and currently resides in Louisiana. He is the founder of The Middle Class is Drowning on Facebook and can be followed on Twitter @BenHMadison.


Facebook comments

  • Pipercat

    If one is going to decry prejudice, -that I take is the premise of this piece- then one should not use a straw man to make the argument; moreover, using a false equivalency as the underlying reasoning, takes away from the problem(s) at hand. It also gives those who do not see the prejudice ammunition for their return fire.

    Using slogans instead of proper nouns actually creates a prejudice of its own. Using the word as a verb conveys the action in its most insidious form. The singular word prejudice is far more powerful than a bullshit slogan such as, white privilege.

    I agree in principle, but please forgive me for thinking this argument really sucks.

    • John Henry

      Calling this a false equivalency doesn’t seem to do quite describe how false this equivalency is.

      Maybe one of the worst blog posts here ever.

    • Guest

      Prejudice is not the same as white privilege. You are entitled to your own opinion and are forgiven.

      • Pipercat

        Forgive, this…

    • Ben Madison

      Prejudice is not the same as white privilege. White privilege is the other side of prejudice. Everyone always discusses prejudices against minorities, but never wants to discuss how white people never have to worry about being profiled or discriminated against in their everyday life. Of course you are entitled to thinking my argument sucks.

      • Pipercat

        Lesson in looking for the big picture: “White privilege” is a slogan and it’s also a hasty generalization fallacy. Prejudice is not bound by any perceived limitation. In the video above, the white person was pre-judged to be safe and obviously going about his business. The black person was pre-judged to be committing a crime. Therefore, this notion of white privilege is different from prejudice, or the other side of prejudice is a non-sequitur. It’s just as ridiculous as the slogan, reverse-discrimination.

        Prejudices can lead to discrimination that leads to oppression. Prejudices can also lead to apathy. Prejudice is the source of discrimination, as well as, apathy. That’s called deductive reasoning; it’s also missing from all these conversations. As telling as the video was, it was hardly scientific. Several variables would need to be added for a clearer picture. A third person who doesn’t appear white, a homeless white person, a white person with tats, gauges and piercings. Just to suggest a few. That would help define all of the prejudices.

        The argument sucks because comparing hooliganism to outrage is a false equivalency. Your proposition does not follow the premise.

        Who gives a shit what conservative America does or thinks. They’re not going to change their views by anything some “liberal” says. Best to leave them to their favorite evening sock puppets who gleefully push downwind the usual Fox News effluent.

        You also double-down by creating all of these hasty generalizations to shame all white people because the couldn’t possibly know anything about discrimination; which of course, is complete bullshit.

        Having said all that, you are actually on to something, but emulating the right with this fallacious nonsense and subjective elitism serves no one.

      • Jim Bean

        ‘White privilege’ is Hillary Clinton getting a free pass for same crime that Petraeus was convicted of.

      • Tony Thompson

        No. That is not an example of white privilege. Learn what the term means before using it.

      • Jim Bean

        And I suppose only you and your BFF’s know exactly what the meaning is, right?

    • Tony Thompson

      You’re decrying the phrase ‘white privilege’ while not understanding what it means. Have you even read Peggy McInstosh’s essay on white privilege? If not, you can read it here: http://amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html

      I know that many people have difficulty understanding the sociological concept of privilege. These same people are quick to dismiss a concept that they don’t understand, which is ridiculously mindboggling. It’s like ignorant creationists dismissing evolution while knowing nothing about it. Perhaps viewing privilege through a different lens will be helpful.

      Did you know that heterosexual privilege exists as well? Like white privilege, heterosexual privilege consists of unearned benefits and advantages granted by society to people that belong to a particular group; in this case, heterosexual people. This privilege allows heterosexuals to move through life with none of the obstacles gay people face because they’re gay. It does not mean that heterosexual people have it easy. Examples of heterosexual privilege can be found here: http://www.cs.earlham.edu/~hyrax/personal/files/student_res/straightprivilege.htm
      Here is a sample of some examples from that list (which is not meant to be comprehensive):

      When I talk about my heterosexuality (such as in a joke or talking about my relationships), I will not be accused of pushing my sexual orientation onto others.

      I do not have to fear that if my family or friends find out about my sexual orientation there will be economic, emotional, physical or psychological consequences.

      I did not grow up with games that attack my sexual orientation (IE fag tag or smear the queer).

      I am not accused of being abused, warped or psychologically confused because of my sexual orientation.

      I can go home from most meetings, classes, and conversations without feeling excluded, fearful, attacked, isolated, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, stereotyped or feared because of my sexual orientation.

      I am never asked to speak for everyone who is heterosexual.

      I can be sure that my classes will require curricular materials that testify to the existence of people with my sexual orientation.

      People don’t ask why I made my choice of sexual orientation.

      People don’t ask why I made my choice to be public about my sexual orientation.

      I do not have to fear revealing my sexual orientation to friends or family. It’s assumed.

      My sexual orientation was never associated with a closet.

      People of my gender do not try to convince me to change my sexual orientation.

      I don’t have to defend my heterosexuality.

      I can easily find a religious community that will not exclude me for being heterosexual.

      Many people object to the use of the word ‘privilege’. Fine. Used the word ‘benefits’. Or ‘advantages’. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what word you use bc the reality is that these benefits…these advantages…they are very real.

      • Pipercat

        I’m sorry, but I’m not going to get bogged down in a bunch of quasi-intellectual semantics. When one group discriminates against another, it’s because one has power over the other; privilege (really tyranny) is the end result. People take advantage of others because they can; because they have power.

        First, before I go on, let me introduce you to Jimmy our resident Cliffy Clavin. Notice how he picked up on that phrase just like you? Out of the entire piece? Dismissing the problems in deductive reasoning that are all over the essay. Amazing how you zeroed in on just that issue.

        Just like the author, you’ve created another straw man. What’s impressive, you dedicated an entire paragraph to create the condition instead of a sentence. Bravo!

        I’ll make a bargain with you and the author. Our underlying goals are the same, really. You guys can use all the outrage inducing slogans that you want. Just try and be less fallacious in your arguments, shall we? Meanwhile, I’ll stick with the oldies, but goodies: Discrimination, Bigotry, Prejudice, oppression and Tyranny.

        Fair enough?

      • matt

        I have read the paper and white privilege and heterosexual privilege only exist because people like you want it to.

  • Jake106

    Jesus….could we quit with the preschool tit-for-tat reporting?

  • Sydney

    I really don’t think the two instances have anything in common…

  • Macdoodle

    Hmmm lets see…they threw a couple of benches on a bonfire while those in Ferguson looted businesses then burned them to the ground.Little different story wouldn’t you agree?

  • matt

    A burning couch in the middle of the street doesn’t compare to burning half a fucking city