The Mac & Cheese Kid: How Privilege Plays Out

  This scene goes on for 9 minutes. What are the first words that come to mind about his behavior? Now indulge me for a short bit here: Watch all of it and imagine he’s an African-American or Arab 19-year old.  Now what words come to mind about his behavior?  Would he have been characterized as … Continue reading “The Mac & Cheese Kid: How Privilege Plays Out”

 

This scene goes on for 9 minutes. What are the first words that come to mind about his behavior? Now indulge me for a short bit here:

Watch all of it and imagine he’s an African-American or Arab 19-year old.  Now what words come to mind about his behavior?  Would he have been characterized as ‘drunken college kid being a jerk’ or something else? And would it have been allowed to continue for nearly as long as it did?  Would a black kid be allowed to go on for a full 5+ minutes after first pushing the manager?

This is what Privilege looks like.  Not being handed things, but having your dumb behavior be seen through the filter of ‘dumb behavior’ and not through the filter of ‘dangerous behavior’ or ‘violent and uncivilized’ behavior or ‘rioting behavior’ or ‘terrorist behavior’.  Note the title of this video: ‘Drunk Kid Wants Mac and Cheese’. I’ve seen a variety newspaper and on-line headlines this morning with similarly soft titles.  Nowhere have I seen any headline along the lines of: ‘Violent Student Attacks Store Manager’ (which he did – he physically attacked the manager twice).

The essence of Privilege is not that you are entitled to *things* but that you’re entitled to a *story* about yourself as being basically decent/good and capable of doing stupid things versus being basically bad/uncivilized and capable of doing good/decent things.

Privilege is about how we are Listened. 

The most important part of that video to pay attention to: at the 8:24 mark, the kid asks the cop that the handcuffs be loosened and….the cop gets out his keys and loosens the cuffs.

Because when the story about you is that you’re basically bad, “I can’t breathe” is just noise coming from someone probably trying to do something else that’s bad.  I have very limited and highly transactional Listening for someone I ‘know’ to be dangerous, violent, aggressive, etc.

 

But when you’re basically good and just engaged in really bad behavior, “loosen the cuffs” is a legitimate communication that is heard as request.  The Listening that is brought to this 19 year old – that he is basically a ‘disorderly student’ – has his words be heard as a request.

This is NOT an anti-cop perspective.
It is NOT an anti-White perspective.
It’s NOT even a pro-Black or pro-Arab perspective.

 

If you’ve spent any time with me – or read any of my posts or watched my videos – you likely get that I’m not terribly pro- or anti- anything.

I’m committed to awareness.  To seeing how we see. To seeing the filters, the perceptual design elements that make up what we think of as ‘reality’.The mac & cheese kid is one of the clearest mass media / viral example I have seen in some time of how Privilege plays out in subtle but powerful ways in terms of how we are Listened.

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Mac & Cheese Kid: How Privilege Plays Out”

  1. Also to notice, all parties directly involved in the conflict are white. People are more likely to feel offensive when they are not the same race as the threat. If it were all Black people or all Arab people, I suspect a similar interaction would occur. It is not only about who is giving the threat, but also who is receiving it. He also has a relatively small stature and baby face which I think leads people to believe he is less threatening even after he hits the manager. At 6:47 the manager does seem to choke the boy, which I perceive as very aggressive. The way the boy is pushed out of the doors seems very aggressive as well. I am not saying he is not deserving of these actions but I just wanted to point them out. (side note, I have had very bad experiences with entitled douchey uconn boys and this does not surprise me at all) (go warriors)

    1. Brooke, I think you made a really good point by bringing up
      it is about both the giver and in this case, the receivers of the threat. Even
      though the manager was the primary target of the guy who wanted food, he could
      have potentially directed his behavior at others in the dining hall. The most
      alarming part of the video was that very few people tried to intervene. When
      the boy began to push the manager for the first time, a student tried to step
      in and another one also tried to get the boy to leave towards the end of the
      video. Finally, one of the workers stepped in but based on his comments, it
      seemed like he was more concerned with defending his boss than any real threat.
      You can literally hear the camera guy laughing every time the situation escalades.
      As the boy becomes ruder and more violent, people gather, laugh, and whistle.
      Due to the way his behaviors are being received, the situation becomes more of
      a performance with the majority of the audience giving positive feedback each
      time the boy brings more drama.

      I wonder if no one was around besides the boy and the
      manager, would it have gone so far. If the receivers weren’t encouraging his
      behavior would he have calmed down rather than get aggressive. Would the
      manager have acted in a different way if he didn’t feel like he was being
      publically berated? And as Al suggested, if the boy was black, would the
      receivers simply chalk his actions up to “dumb drunk kid” and laugh or would
      the appropriate precautions had been taken. Regardless of these theoreticals,
      it clear how the receivers respond to the threat has a significant impact on
      the outcome of the situation.

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