The White Gaze – Is it Fear or Racism?


The White Gaze should be terrifying to anyone aware of its meaning.  Not only does it strike without warning; but in many cases, it takes, and destroys lives when it does. Is the White Gaze fear or racism?

Though it’s not a physical ailment, the White Gaze is a debilitating sickness, caused by the horribly apathetic state of mind, called racism.  It can cause such mental devastation that even if you survive, the pain is indelibly etched on your brain with heart-wrenching torment.

George Yancy, Professor of Philosophy at Duquesne University stated in a recent article, that the White Gaze is the fear that white people have of blacks.  In short, it’s defined as looking at the world through the eyes of a white person who has undertones of, or is blatant in, their racism.

Simply put, the gaze means that you that you have no right to belong.  You have no right to belong in certain neighborhoods; you have no right to belong in certain schools. And if you’re black, you have no right to belong anywhere that those affected by the White Gaze feel that you shouldn’t be.

When those who are gazing see you as a threat, or someone to be feared, even if the feeling is contrived, murder often follows. Sadly, for many, being at the wrong place or in the wrong situation has proven fatal.

Many Michigan residents are outraged of the November 2nd murder of 19-year-old Renisha McBride. Even more are wondering if 54-year-old Theodore P. Wafer was afflicted by the White Gaze when he took the life of this innocent, unarmed, young black woman.

Wafer, of Dearborn Heights, Michigan shot McBride in the face with a shotgun when she knocked on his front door seeking help after being in a car accident.

Sources say that McBride, who had been drinking crashed her car sometime around 1:00 a.m.  A woman at the scene said that Miss McBride sustained minor injuries from the accident and was bleeding from the head. According to the unidentified woman, McBride kept saying “I want to go home.”

According to sources, McBride, who appeared shaky and disoriented left the scene and somehow wandered to Wafer’s front porch.

The distressed and dazed McBride knocked on Wafer’s door seeking help, but instead, she was met with a deadly shotgun blast which ended her young life.

The question again arises, was the White Gaze responsible for Police shooting and killing 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell?

Reports indicate that Ferrell, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed by police in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Ferrell, who was in a devastating car crash on Saturday, September 14, 2013, ran towards Police for help, but instead he was tased and shot to death.

The former Florida A&M University football star was seeking assistance after he was in a serious car wreck.  According to Police Chief Rodney Monroe, Ferrell more than likely climbed out of the back window of his badly damaged vehicle and ran to the closest house for help.

Upon answering the door, the homeowner inside thought it was her husband knocking at the door, but opened the door to find Ferrell.  Chief Monroe further stated that the woman closed the door, hit her panic alarm and called 911.  When Police arrived at the scene, a man matching the homeowner’s description of Ferrell ran towards them.

Upon seeing the young black man running in their direction, one officer fired his stun gun, but Ferrell still ran towards them for help. At that time Officer Randall Kerrick opened fire; shooting Ferrell multiple times, killing him at the scene.  No one gave Jonathan Ferrell the benefit-of-doubt because in their eyes, he didn’t belong.

Undoubtedly, the most publicized story of the White Gaze is that of George Zimmerman. For over a year, papers were satiated with news of the 28-year-old man who took the life of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012.

Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watch patrolman in Sanford, Florida for a private community, stalked and fatally shot Martin, because in his eyes, Martin didn’t belong in the gated community which he was patrolling. After police arrived, Zimmerman, an armed White-Hispanic man was taken to the hospital for head injuries.  While Trayvon Martin, an unarmed young Black man, was taken to the morgue.

Though no one can say for sure that these murders were White Gaze related, we can undoubtedly say, that they were senseless.   When life is lost to violence, it doesn’t matter whether it’s because of  the White Gaze, fear, blinding racism or just plain-old-hatred, it doesn’t diminish the pain of those left behind.

Though we may never know the true motive for these senseless acts of violence, one certainty prevails, “No one knows what lurks in the hearts of men,” but men themselves.   And the White Gaze is proof-positive of that.

Written By:  DeBorah Heggs-Alston

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