This Hate Crime Shows Why White Teens Need to Learn About Racism
If you're old enough to be racist, you should learn about racism
A 14-year-old White teenager, John Sheeran, has been indicted on attempted murder charges for reportedly trying to drown a Black teenager in a Cape Cod pond in Chatham, Massachusetts, last July, a crime prosecutors describe as a "racially-motivated attack." The Black teenager told investigators that another White teen laughed, calling him "George Floyd" while Sheeran repeatedly dunked his head under the water, despite making it known "he couldn't swim and needed to wear a life jacket." At least two witnesses came forward, telling authorities they saw Sheeran on top of the Black teenager, and one confirmed hearing someone say "George Floyd" during the attack. Thankfully, the alleged victim in this case, the Black teenager, survived, but this incident begs the question, if White teenagers are old enough to commit a hate crime, why do White parents insist they are too fragile to learn about racism?
This tragedy is the fear of every Black parent who lives in a predominantly White community that their child will become the victim of a hate crime. On social media, some pointed out that if the roles were reversed, and a Black teenager attempted to drown a White one, "they would likely be charged as an adult," suggesting that prosecutors treating Sheera with kid gloves was indicative of his "white privilege." Another noted that "there is no acceptable excuse for this kind of behavior" and that "prosecutors need to step up to the plate." One White man described the crime as "heinous" and insisted that the "14–year–old in question got his white supremacist views from his parents." If he's right, some White teenagers are radicalized with racist worldviews in their homes. Then, blocking conversations on racism in the classroom helps racists groom their kids into full-blown white supremacists. Since their racist views will never be challenged in a Florida or Texas classroom, they may view these as socially acceptable.
Calling a Black teenager "George Floyd" while attempting to drown him demonstrated a complex set of racist attitudes. They recognized the existence of social justice movements (they clearly know about Black Lives…