#elflivesmatter is not a thing

4 Mar

Imagine a man attacking a car with a sword with all the fury of someone high on LSD. Actually, he is high on LSD. And dressed up like a fantasy character.

What do the police do when they arrive on the scene? The man is armed, has already punctured the sides and top of the car several times and is still on his rampage. What do the police do?

They “cite him for criminal mischief and take him to the hospital.”

I was still trying to process the details (he was dressed as a “high elf”? the owner of the car thought a pirate was attaching her car–because that is somehow more believable in Portland??) when I scrolled to the comment at the end of the article.

This was the first post:

High elf comment

And a few lights went on:

First, I had filled in “white guy” in my mind without thinking about it, for a few reasons, including that if he weren’t white, I would expect the coverage to note his non-whiteness, and also because the stereotype in my mind of fantasy role-playing, Tolkien-loving people are male and white.

Because I colored him white in my mind, while I was surprised that that kind of violence and property damage would only warrant a citation, it didn’t shock me.

What would have shocked me? If a drug-addled, armed and violent black man had done this and gotten away with a citation. Unarmed black men, a black boy who “appeared to be pulling a gun in and out of his pants,” black men with knives who may or may not have been threatening the police–sober, drunk or high–get shot.

But the raging white man with the sword gets a citation.

I’m not saying I wish he had been shot. Absolutely not. I am entirely grateful that he wasn’t. I am also deeply moved by what I can only interpret to be the responding police officers’ commitment to his safety and their active protection of him, despite his own efforts (or negligence) in creating a mutually dangerous situation.

I just wish that kind of protection was something we could all count on, regardless of our skin color, size, gender or state of mind.

And to the folks who wonder why we’re not rallying behind #alllivesmatter, it’s because while they do, that’s not what we as a society seem to believe.

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