I guess I should be shocked that a judge and a psychologist in Texas would see a rich white kid as a victim of his privilege before seeing the people he killed as victims of his drunkenness.
But I’m not.
That’s the thing about privilege; it extends to being able to rewrite rules and to turn logic on its head. And that’s what happened in Texas recently, in the case of 16-year-old Ethan Couch. This kid was sloppy drunk, driving 70 mph in a 40 mph zone, and, as a result, killed four people, including a mother and daughter, and severely injured another.
But his parents’ money bought him a good lawyer and a cunning psychologist who told the court that Ethan was a victim of too much privilege; that he had never been reprimanded for his actions in the past and therefore, was not responsible for the deaths that he caused.
Poor Ethan, he said, suffered from “affluenza.” And the judge apparently bought it; instead of sending him to juvenile hall for 20 years with probation eligibility after two years, he gave Ethan 10 years of probation.
I call that white privilege on steroids. But it’s easy to see how things have come to this.
For many years now, white youths and rich white people in general, have been able to get away with crimes that black people, and especially poor black people, would be put under the jail for.
An example: A 2005 Urban League report showed that black men are three times more likely to be jailed for crimes than white men once they are arrested, and 24.4 percent of black people arrested that year were incarcerated, compared to 8.3 percent of white men.
Then there’s the media, which tends to portray white youths who shoot up schools and drive drunk or use drugs as being clean-cut kids who went awry, while casting black youths who get into fights at school, or curse or smoke as hopelessly incorrigible.
What turns logic on its head here is that privilege ought to help parents raise decent kids without the pressures of poverty. If anything, it would make more sense for a poor struggling kid with no options, no access to therapy or to the Betty Ford Center, to succumb to drinking or drugs to deal with the despair he or she sees every day.
And why in the hell is Ethan the victim of his parents not reprimanding him? It’s not as if they are too consumed with survival issues to not take the time to raise him.
But I guess they don’t have to worry about that. A judge has already bought into a psychologist’s asinine diagnosis of privilege being an illness and not an asset.
Eric Boyles, the man who lost his wife and daughter to Ethan’s drunkenness, said that the teenager never apologized or showed remorse for what he did. And why should he? He’s been told that he’s not rude. Just sick.
And so is the system that let him get away with murder.
Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her @tonyaajw. Or like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonyaajweathersbee.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
1 of 25
2 of 25
3 of 25
4 of 25
5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
5 of 25
6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
6 of 25
7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
7 of 25
8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
8 of 25
9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
9 of 25
10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
10 of 25
11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
11 of 25
12. Late nights mornings
12 of 25
13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
13 of 25
14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
14 of 25
15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
15 of 25
16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
16 of 25
17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
17 of 25
18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
18 of 25
19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
19 of 25
20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
20 of 25
21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
21 of 25
22. Claudia Jordan: ....
22 of 25
23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
23 of 25
24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
24 of 25
25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
25 of 25