The Problem with "Not All of Us"

image via twitter

image via twitter

I'm exhausted.

As of late, between the repeated headlines of sexual assault allegations, to the almost daily mass shootings, to Donnie one tweet away from killing us all in a nuclear holocaust, I'm just exhausted.

And with the daily mess, it seems as if everyone (myself included) has an opinion. I suppose, I love the internet for that reason. There are point of views that I've read that I may truly have never considered and news articles that I don't think I would have ever come across. So with that being said, with every think piece, with every article, with every comment left in the comment section, there has been one very common opinion that has been offending me consistently across the board.

"Not all of us"

"These police officers aren't following the law! What they are doing to black American's is wrong! It's murder!"

"Not all of us"

"These men are sexual predators. They are gross and abusing their power. Guys are horrible!"

"Not all of us"

"White men are a problem! They commit the majority of all mass shootings! We have to do something about gun violence. "

"Not all of us"

I would love if we could stop the "not all of us" narrative.  Alright, let me insert my disclaimer now. To the people who are reading this and feel their initial response to be defensive, stay with me. It is very obvious that the generalization of an entire race/group/community isn't fair. It's an irresponsible write off that adds to a problem. But I also invite you to explore this thought: If you're not a racist, do you feel the need to consistently proclaim that you aren't? If you're not against homosexuality, do you feel the need to constantly proclaim that you "have nothing against it"? Why is there always a dull hum of defensiveness in every conversation to try and draw a line of separation from the "good guys"? While I can't speak for every marginalized group, I would like to think that we all know, at some level, that we have allies in the white community. We love our white friends, our white partners, our white family members (even the ones that don't get it sometimes but they are trying). But the "not all of us" dialog is distracting to the bigger problem at hand. 

So lets be honest with ourselves. Historically, it is a fact that white men exhibit dumb and deplorable behavior to maintain power. And white men reaping the benefits of these tilted scales have been embedded into our society for so long that they have trouble recognizing their privilege (which is, ironically a privilege). By numbers, cis white men are the face of mass shootings in our country. Cis white men are the face of sexual assault and abuse of power. Cis white men wear badges that allow them to shoot Black men and women out of fear. Yes, other races/genders/etc are capable of committing these crimes and I'm sure someone will take the time to send me an article about a Black cop shooting a Black man. But my point is, these stats are like the 2015 Oscars, overwhelmingly white.

So let's call a spade a spade and admit that we have a problem. We've HAD a problem. Every white man you know may not be a bad guy, but they/we are all apart of a culture that enables this behavior. It's incredible that after everything cis white men have done, they are still able to mold their own narratives and be seen as individual perpetrators (if they are even held accountable for their actions at all).  Christopher Columbus, for instance, was a fraud-ass rapist who managed to "discover" his way to a national holiday. Harvey Weinstein, another example, is a disgusting sexual predator who molested his way to the top of Hollywood in a taboo environment in which he wasn't held accountable for his actions. Brock Turner was "a good kid with a promising future". Stephen Paddock was a "lone wolf". Devin Patrick Kelly had "demons". Are you noticing a theme here? All of these men are white. All of these men have been granted a storyline to help make sense of or excuse their behavior. This. Is. A. Problem.

To piggy back on my last paragraph, let me show you how this type of culture adds insult to injury for everyone else. While "not all of us" white men are allowed to commit individual offenses, the rest of us are generalized and stereotyped in ways that are untrue and offensive. Women are too "emotional" to be fit for office. Muslims are "terrorists". Black men are either athletes or thugs. Black women are "angry, loud and ghetto". Latinx people are "bad hombres" that do landscaping. Asian people speak broken english.  Gay men are overly flamboyant and "act gay". Black skin is "threatening". Hijabs are "scary". Women lie about rape because "they want attention." The list goes on and on. So excuse me while I don't join in your white male "not all of us" pity party. No, you're right - It's not okay to generalize you, but we've been saying "not all of us" for a long ass time.

The irony of years and years of systemic privilege benefiting white men is the offense that cis white men have been taking for being generalized. The "Not all of Us" addition to every comment is not only shifting focus of the actual topic being discussed but it shifts victims. Instead of the sexual assault victim being the focus of attention, "not all of us"-er's take on the role of victim. The dialogue shifts from defending women, to defending "good" men. Instead of talking about police officers that do murder black civilians, the conversations shifts to defending officers who put themselves on the line daily.  The redirection of the conversation is exhausting to those of us trying to stay on topic. These issues are separate and not equal. 

So let me lovingly and lightly get you "Not All of Us" folks together. We know it's not all straight people. We know it's not all men. We know it's not all police officers. We know it's not all white people. But that's not the focus of the conversation. So please, stop Taylor Swifting your way into this narrative. We know there are good guys out there, but this conversation isn't about the good guys. Stop making this about you.

Brianna GrahamComment