This MAGA teen fiasco is illustrating the deadly racial divide for teenagers
By now you’ve surely seen the viral video, which shows “MAGA teen” Nick Sandmann standing in front of Vietnam veteran and native elder Nathan Phillips, a smug smile on his face, mocking a man who is more than Sandmann, on his current course, has any hope to ever be.
A teen boy harassing and mocking a veteran on recorded video should have damning effects on the young boy’s life. He should be learning a lesson about respect and human dignity. Instead, he was interviewed on the Today show.
And that’s how the whole sad saga of Nick Sandmann illustrates the deadly racial divide between white teens and teens of color. Sandmann royally messed up. He was blatantly disrespectful to a war veteran and the whole thing was caught on camera. Instead of facing any consequences for his actions, Sandmann has been allowed to tell his side of the story, been defended by politicians and the media, been given TV appearances, been invited to the White House. Can you imagine if the races were reversed? If a black teen had mocked and harassed a white war veteran?
It’s a comparison many people are now drawing online.
This kind of privilege just does not exist for children, teens or adults of color. According to an APA study, black boys are viewed as older and less innocent than white boys. They’re also more likely to be “perceived as guilty and face police violence if accused of a crime.” That means they can’t enter into these kinds of interactions without fearing for their very lives, because life in America has shown them, time and time again, that simply existing is enough to get them shot by white people who will face no consequences.
And yet, Sandmann acted in the most disgustingly smug and disrespectful manner. He knew he could. He can do anything. He’s white.
Think of Trayvon Martin. His crime was walking after dark with a bag of Skittles in his hoodie pocket. He looked scary to a neighbor with a gun, so he was killed for that. Think of Tamir Rice. He was playing with a pellet gun in his neighborhood park, something my brothers and I did regularly when we were growing up. We never had to worry about what the neighbors might think of us shooting at targets pinned to trees. But Tamir Rice looked scary to a white cop with a gun, so he was killed for it.
At the very least, there are people who are seeing through Nick Sandmann’s PR spin.
Some are even calling for a boycott of the Today show.
But boycotts and tweets won’t change the reality. Nick Sandmann did something a black child might easily have been killed or beaten for doing. And that’s the reality of America in 2019, the MAGA America that Sandmann wears on his hat. Trump’s America. Sandmann’s America. The white man’s America, and only the white man’s.