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.
“As far as standing there, I had every right to do so. My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I’d like to talk to him…But I can't say that I'm sorry for listening to him and standing there.” Nick Sandmann on if he owes anyone an apology pic.twitter.com/iiVqPtltjf
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 23, 2019
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.
WHITE TEEN: [is racist/violent]
Leave him alone, he’s just a kid!
BLACK TEEN: [is murdered]
Look he was no angel
— Jake Maccoby (@jdmaccoby) January 21, 2019
Black teens get gunned down on the streets for just wearing a hoodie while white teens have expensive PR teams that gaslight us through respected journalists and make us second guess racist actions seen on video. This is the nature of white supremacy. It’s powerful and indisious.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) January 21, 2019
try to imagine a world in which black and brown teens are invited to the white house after being videoed harassing a white war veteran
— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) January 22, 2019
i hope the next black teen arrested for looking at a cop the wrong way also gets a segment on the today show
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) January 22, 2019
Black teen boy gets shot for wearing a hoodie. White teen boy harasses a Native American elder and gets an interview on the @TODAYshow and to meet the president after his parents hire a PR firm to spin the incident. This is America.
— Laura Bassett (@LEBassett) January 22, 2019
If you want to see White privilege + Wealth at WORK, **just look** at the MAGA Teen.
Since disrespecting #NathanPhillips, he's had:
1- Media Training to prep for interviews
2- Leading journalists defend him
3- A PR Firm working for him
4- National platforms to tell his story pic.twitter.com/pF4kLhdG1S
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) January 23, 2019
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.
So if a large mob of white teens wearing racist paraphernalia being abusive to people is "children defending themselves" what level of defense would you allow a Black teen wearing a hoodie being chased through a subdivision by a 40 year old with a gun?
— Kno (@Kno) January 21, 2019
And yet, Sandmann acted in the most disgustingly smug and disrespectful manner. He knew he could. He can do anything. He’s white.
Nick sandman is a miserable child with no moral compass who will grow up to be a disgrace of a man. How dare you stand there with that disrespectful smirk? Because he KNOWS he will get away with it because he’s a white body.
— niki phranc (@tojupiter9) January 21, 2019
[white teen gets involved with nazis]
MEDIA: We should allow children to make mistakes
[white man in his 30s becomes violent in the name of racist ideaology]
MEDIA: We should forgive the follies of youth
[old white man spends lifetime abusing others]
MEDIA: ooooh itsa bitsa baby
— Post-Culture Review (@PostCultRev) January 22, 2019
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.
In any other time, this young man would likely be suspended from school for disrespect.
You people put him on TV.
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) January 22, 2019
I'm willing to bet that fifty years from now, a defining image of this political era will be that smug white MAGA teen disrespecting a Native elder and veteran. It just captures so much.
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) January 19, 2019
“What you’re seeing in the video didn’t happen.”
— B L L (@BLL1060) January 21, 2019
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.