“Last night, I made the abominable mistake of reading the comments under Fox News’ Facebook page’s post of the alleged Mike Brown “strong-arm robbery” video. What I read was altogether infuriating and heartbreaking, yet I could not stop reading. Many of the comments, by what appeared to be “average white Americans,” were seething, sarcastic, racist, and steeped in hate. They called Mike Brown a “thug” and spoke about his killing in a bizarre celebratory way―some implicitly and others explicitly expressing how the video justifies his murder. Some of the comments even unnecessarily brought up Trayvon Martin, also speaking about him in the most derogatory and disparagingly of ways. These white Facebook users were so quick to dehumanize, demonize, generalize, speak hatefully, and justify the death of a young black man―in rhetoric oozing with racism, white supremacy, and white privilege―that I began to wonder if they were able to acknowledge that Mike Brown was a human. How and why do they hate him so much?
It made me sick to my stomach.
I think the part that was most troubling to me was the fact that most of these white people making these horrendous comments were not the anonymous, faceless, cowardly, racist internet trolls that I often encounter on Twitter―though enraging, I can somehow shrug them off as “fake.” These people had faces, rather. These folks were seeminglyreal people, behind seemingly real Facebook accounts―some of their profile pictures were family pictures or pictures of them with their kids, even lovingly embracing them. I imagine they are people who have authentic, caring relationships with individuals who they choose to love deeply―friends, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins, grandmothers, grandfathers. But the hatred they verbally spewed for a dead black teenager they do not even know, and the dehumanizing nature of their discourse, led me to begin to see them void of humanity―their dehumanization of Mike Brown was the cause of my dehumanization of them. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s truly ugly.
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