Charlotte and Harriet Childress: White men have much to answer for in mass shootings

2013-04-02T04:30:00Z Charlotte and Harriet Childress: White men have much to answer for in mass shootingsCHARLOTTE AND HARRIET CHILDRESS | consultants and researchers

Imagine if African-American men and boys were committing mass shootings month after month, year after year. Articles and interviews would flood the media, and we’d have political debates demanding that African-Americans be “held accountable.” Then, if an atrocity such as the Newtown, Conn., shootings took place and African-American male leaders held a news conference to offer solutions, their credibility would be questionable. The public would tell these leaders that they need to focus on problems in their own culture and communities.

But when the criminals and leaders are white men, race and gender become the elephant in the room.

Nearly all of the mass shootings in this country in recent years — not just Newtown, Aurora, Fort Hood, Tucson and Columbine — have been committed by white men and boys. Yet when the National Rifle Association, led by white men, held a news conference after the Newtown massacre to advise Americans on how to reduce gun violence, its leaders’ opinions were widely discussed.

Unlike other groups, white men are not used to being singled out. So we expect that many of them will protest it is unfair if we talk about them. But our nation must correctly define their contribution to our problem of gun violence if it is to be solved.

When white men try to divert attention from gun control by talking about mental health issues, many people buy into the idea that the United States has a national mental health problem, or flawed systems with which to address those problems, and they think that is what produces mass shootings.

But women and girls with mental health issues are not picking up semiautomatic weapons and shooting schoolchildren. Immigrants with mental health issues are not committing mass shootings in malls and movie theaters. Latinos with mental health issues are not continually killing groups of strangers.

Each of us is programmed from childhood to believe that the top group of our hierarchies — and in the U.S. culture, that’s white men — represents everyone, so it can feel awkward, even ridiculous, when we try to call attention to those people as a distinct group and hold them accountable.

For example, our schools teach American history as the history of everyone in this nation. But the stories we learn are predominantly about white men. To study the history of other groups, people have to take separate classes, such as African-American history, women’s history or Native American history. And if we take “Hispanic-American History,” we don’t expect to learn “Asian-American History,” because a class about anyone but white men is assumed not to be inclusive of anyone else.

This societal and cultural programming makes it easy for conservative, white-male-led groups to convince the nation that an organization led by white men, such as the NRA or the tea party movement, can represent the interests of the entire nation when, in fact, they predominately represent only their own experiences and perspectives.

If life were equitable, white male gun-rights advocates would face some serious questions to assess their degree of credibility and objectivity. We would expect them to explain:

What facets of white male culture create so many mass shootings?

Why are so many white men and boys producing and entertaining themselves with violent video games and other media?

Why do white men buy, sell and manufacture guns for profit; attend gun shows; and demonstrate for unrestricted gun access disproportionately more than people of other ethnicities or races?

Why are white male congressmen leading the fight against gun control?

If Americans ask the right questions on gun issues, we will get the right answers. These answers will encourage white men to examine their role in their own culture and to help other white men and boys become healthier and less violent.

Charlotte and Harriet Childress are researchers and consultants on social and political issues and the co-authors of “Clueless at the Top: While the Rest of Us Turn Elsewhere for Life, Liberty, and Happiness.” This column ran first in The Washington Post.

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. RugerNiner
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    RugerNiner - April 03, 2013 1:05 pm
    The article fails to mention that these women received over a million dollars of taxpayer money over the years to write this un-researched drivel.
  2. Libertarian_Larry
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    Libertarian_Larry - April 03, 2013 7:36 am
    A new low for the CT!!
  3. 196ski
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    196ski - April 02, 2013 11:05 pm
    This article was poorly researched and drew FALSE conclusions. CT should pull it.
  4. kriley
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    kriley - April 02, 2013 10:06 pm
    Although the Cap Times claims they want to present all viewpoints this is absurd. To publish this nonsense from a couple of racist idiots is outrageous. Who ever decided this should go up on the site should be reprimanded, suspended or fired. Even for a April fools day prank it doesn't work. Morons
  5. NotleftorrightR
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    NotleftorrightR - April 02, 2013 1:08 pm
    "The Cap Times...Your Progressive Voice"

    opps sorry I guess now it is

    "The Cap Times...Your Racist Voice"

    Hate speech is hate speech regardless of the race you target.
  6. jimri
    Report Abuse
    jimri - April 02, 2013 10:57 am
    Whites are actually statistically UNDERREPRESENTED in mass shootings. These two sisters have been thoroughly debunked already with actual, you know, facts (see below). Too bad TCT didn't do basic vetting before publishing this racist garbage.
  7. Beingbucky
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    Beingbucky - April 02, 2013 8:42 am
    I think it is in "poor taste" for the NRA to continue its campaign supporting violence, paranoia and profits over people. Sorry if the opinion of these uppity women upsets your sensibilities.
  8. webmasterbigbrother
    Report Abuse
    webmasterbigbrother - April 02, 2013 8:33 am
    """"""""The most common gun violence, by contrast, is drearily predictable and is the source on average of nearly ten thousand homicides a year. Such violence occurs overwhelmingly in certain locations of cities—over the past 30 years in Boston, for example, 75 percent of the city’s shootings occurred in 4.5% of its area, whereas 88.5 percent of the city’s street segments experienced not a single shooting. Urban shootings are retaliatory or the product of the most trivial of slights. They are committed by handguns, not assault rifles. Victims and perpetrators usually know each other, absent bullets going astray. Reforming the involuntary commitment laws and beefing up mental health services are largely irrelevant to these shootings, since though the shooters have serious problems with impulse control and are clearly a danger to themselves and others, few would be deemed mentally ill. And both victims and perpetrators are disproportionately minority, by huge margins. New York City is emblematic of the country’s gun violence. According to victims and witnesses, blacks commit 80% of all shootings in New York, though they are 23% of the city’s residents. Add Hispanics and you account for 98% of all shootings. Whites commit a little over 1% of shootings, though they are 35% of the city’s population. These disproportions pertain across the country.""""
  9. webmasterbigbrother
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    webmasterbigbrother - April 02, 2013 8:33 am
    you will also notice the twins didn't mention the VT shootings....guess that doesn't fit their narrative about it being white men.
  10. webmasterbigbrother
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    webmasterbigbrother - April 02, 2013 8:12 am
    researchers...yeah right, more like racebaiters....

    Nidal Malik Hasan, the shooter in Ft. Hood is white? He is the son of Palestinian immigrants and shouted Allah Akbar when he opened fired.

    black males make up roughly 6% of our population but commit over 50% of the murders in this country.

    i personally see this more about economic conditions and the failed war on drugs but if you want to make it about race then let's have an honest conversation.

    if you took out the black murders in this country our murder rate would be roughly the same as european countries murder rates.

    mass shootings are a fraction of the total murders in this country but the media and piers morgans of the world love to stand on the dead bodies because the left desperately wants a reason to restrict gun rights.

    that's why we have assault ban proposals when less then 2% of gun crimes occur with assault rifles.

    mexico has strict gun laws but more murder then the U.S. Murders in both countries occur because we keep a failed war on drugs going.

    you want to divide us by race like our community organizer president.

    if white men have much to answer about mass shooting which kill less then 150 people a year

    then black men have much to answer about the thousands of murders committed by black men each year in this country.

    by your standards of course. I personally think it is in poor taste to pin this stuff on race.

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