Editorial: Because He Is White

Kaitlyn Fowler
October 16, 2017

Police talking to a man on the street, car lights still flashing. Photo by Kaitlyn Fowler.


There has been a lot of death recently. Between natural disasters such as Harvey, Irma, Maria, and the massive wildfires, we haven’t had much of a break.

I woke up for school the morning of October 2nd and saw the news regarding the mass shooting in Las Vegas: the deadliest mass murder in modern American history. The death toll continued to climb. 59 dead. 527 injured. A white, 64-year-old, “lone wolf” retiree  named Steven Paddock shot a (semiautomatic) gun into the crowd at a music festival from the 32nd floor of his hotel. He was among the dead. Police say that they found 10 rifles in his hotel room and, later, that he possessed 49 guns total. As usual, the first line of defense for his actions was congregated in the area of ‘severe, undiagnosed’ mental illness as an excuse for violence. Investigators are reportedly focusing on a period of time in September-October of 2016 where Paddock bought 30+ guns, mostly rifles, in concentration.

“He was antisocial,” reports say.

“He was a gambler.”

“He was standoffish.”

He possessed 49 guns.

He killed 59 people.

He injured 527 people.

I have no doubt that there was something a little off in his brain; there would have to be for him to commit a crime such as this.

I also have no doubt that if Steven Paddock had been a person a color, he would not be labeled as someone with a severe mental illness; he would be labeled as a terrorist.

Even before we knew motivation, as we don’t yet know Paddock’s, a person of color still would’ve been labeled as a terrorist, even though the act would have to be definitively politically motivated to be termed a terrorist act.

Ignoring the concept of terrorism, instead simplifying the event to a mass murder, Paddock was ‘mentally ill’ and a person of color would’ve been a murderer.

The problem isn’t that Paddock is being identified as mentally ill, the problem is that Paddock is being identified as mentally ill because he is white.

The problem is that the United States’ leadership is more concerned with and has more to say about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem in peaceful protest of police brutality targeting people of color than about the white man who killed 59 people and injured 527.

The problem is that a man bought 30+ guns in a two month time-span and nobody questioned his mental state until he committed a mass murder a year later.

The problem is that white supremacist protesters returned to Charlottesville, Virginia, where their last protest two months ago turned deadly, this past Saturday, October 7th, less than a week after Paddock’s attack.

The problem is that nobody is talking about it or a possible connection to the shooting.

The problem is that this is not the first time a massacre has occurred this way.

The problem is that this will most likely not be the last time, either.