Black Heroism, White Privilege And The American Death Fetish

What is and is not heroic is decided after the fact. But in times of peril individuals are forced to make split-second decisions, the outcome of which is a matter of life and death. Early Sunday morning, four patrons entered a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee.  They died at the hands of the recent proliferation of armed, angry and deranged while males. 

Armed with a weapon and white rage, police say a naked white man killed Akilah DaSilva, a 23-year-old Middle Tennessee State University student, and an aspiring musician; DeEbony Groves, a 21-year-old Belmont University student, Joe Perez, 20, was getting food at the Waffle House and died outside and Taurean Sanderlin, 29, worked at the restaurant and was fatally shot outside, as well, police said. 

There have already been too many mass shootings in 2018, resulting in dozens of casualties.  On that fateful morning, a heartbreaking murdering spree resulted in the deaths of DeEbony, Taurean, Joe, and Akilah.  There will undoubtedly be those who believe this shooting was not racially motivated, despite all four of the victims being people of color.   

New York Daily News on Twitter

Tennessee authorities identified the four victims who were killed when a partially naked gunman opened fire at a suburban Waffle House early Sunday. All four were young people of color with their whole lives of ahead of them. #WaffleHouse

In the south, Waffle House is the preferred location for post-club foodstuff. The assailant, 29-year-old Travis Reinking is from the area and likely was aware of it as a late night hang out for young black people. 

Back to heroics, 29-year old James Shaw Jr. had mere moments to act.  Was it his Tennessee State University pedigree that steeled his nerves or his Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. pedigree that fired him forward into the line of fire?  According to Shaw, it was actually one of the simplest biological mechanisms that caused him to act; fight or flight. 

“I was completely doing it just to save myself,” Mr. Shaw told reporters at a news conference. “I did save other people, but I don’t want people to think that I was the Terminator or Superman or anybody like that.” 

Shaw said he heard gunshots and glass breaking while he was in the bathroom and attempted to hide, but the assailant shot through the door. 

“It was at that time that I kind of made up my mind – because there’s no way to lock that door – that if it was going to come down to it he was gonna have to work to kill me,” he said. 

When the firing stopped and the gunman was looking at his weapon, Mr. Shaw rushed him and a scuffle ensued. 

“I hit him with the door and the gun was kind of jammed up,” he said. “I grabbed it from him and I threw it over the countertop.” 

He then forced the gunman out of the restaurant. 

On Monday afternoon, Reinking was in police custody.

Metro Nashville PD on Twitter

BREAKING: Travis Reinking apprehended moments ago in a wooded area near Old Hickory Blvd & Hobson Pk.

Shaw’s modesty notwithstanding, what he did was heroic and it took a great amount of bravery to accomplish. African-Americans have been dealing with the injustice of black blood flowing in the streets at a seemingly accelerated rate since 2012.  From the terrorist act of Dylann Roof to the institutional racism that allowed George Zimmerman to walk free after murdering Trayvon Martin, to 14-year-old Brennan Walker facing down a shotgun from a white man for simply asking directions.  

Once again, we’re forced to mourn the fallen.  There will be more excuses made for the assailant from the mainstream than there will be sympathy for the deceased.  

The suspect was held for breaching the security barrier at the White House in 2017. He told Secret Service officers that he had a right to “inspect the grounds” and that he wanted to meet President Donald Trump. 

According to USA Today, Reinking was arrested in August 2017 outside of the family business, a crane company in Tazewell County (Ill.). Also, he reportedly had been known to threaten people with his AR-15 assault rifle.  

Records show that the Tazewell County (Ill.) Sheriff’s Office went to the company to talk to Reinking’s father to advise him to talk to his son and take his guns away.  Law enforcement gave the guns to the elder Reinking but advised them to keep them away from Travis, according to reports.  

“(The father) was advised that he needed to keep the weapons secure and away from Travis. (The father) stated he would comply,” reads a report from the sheriff’s office.  

If you’ve struggled with what white privilege looks like, here it is.  A 29-year-old white male is coddled by law enforcement after threatening to shoot people with his f’n assault rifle. He serves no jail time, his father gives him the guns back, and he goes “a-hunting'” for some black folks less than a year later. 

This isn’t a sign of this time, but one reminiscent of all of the time the United States has existed. There will be no renewed debate over assault rifles on Capitol Hill. White children barely older than toddlers died at Sandy Hook, white teenagers died at Columbine and at Parkland. Black bodies don’t spark debate. Black bodies illicit silence from everyone but black people, and even then, their bemoaning wales are muted and eventually drowned out. 

Meanwhile, black “conservatives” are saying Black Lives Matter, and like-minded groups by proxy, are whining when they ask for police to stop shooting black citizens. What-a-year, what-a-year. But who defends black bodies when no one else feels the need to do so? 

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