On White People’s Obsession With Black and Brown Death (OPINION)

Mar 9, 2021
3:15 PM

There have been many cases of white people being called out over the last few years for their seeming enjoyment of watching Black people being murdered by police. Similarly, many have been called out for using images of dead bodies of color for shock value to generate clicks. More recently, I called out a white author who writes fictional tales about life on the border and Mexican cartels. As is typical with white writers, Mexicans (Latinos) are the bad guys and his white protagonists are always the good guys.

So when this author posted an image of a father and daughter who drowned crossing the Rio Grande River to prove his loyalty to Joe Biden and Democratic policy wonks, I called him out again. I say again because I called him out after demonizing Cubans who didn’t vote for Biden as he did in typical white people fashion. Every time anyone who is not white does something white people don’t agree with, they launch attacks like Tomahawk cruise missiles off of a Navy battle destroyer.

As a first-generation U.S. Latino with a huge number of immigrants in my family, I —like many other Latinos who push for immigration reform— have criticized every single president regardless of party affiliation. Naturally, we’re going to call out Joe Biden as well. Especially since he initially missed the mark in so many ways. This does not make me a Republican. This does not warrant a reminder of the death at the border because of Trump, Obama, and every president before them.

But for white liberals, criticizing Biden’s immigration policies means we must be Republicans who need to have images of Latino death at the border—as if we need a reminder. The thing is, we don’t need reminders because we know from our own experiences and the experiences of our family members. But White people seem to enjoy the murder porn they often share.

I would say they do it for shock value, but the truth is they love seeing it. (FYI, I am not going to share the actual tweet that Don Winslow tweeted out on Tuesday morning.)

Now, some would say ol’ Don is just being insensitive. Others, who attacked me for calling him out argue that I’m ‘going after’ the wrong guy because we’re on the same team. Let’s get something straight. I am not on the same team with people who pander and I’m certainly not allying myself with White people who use Black and Latino death to clout-chase. It’s as if the wealth he’s made off of Latinos isn’t enough that he has to use Latino deaths for clicks.

Winslow represents everything anti-racist writers like myself continue to point out about so-called allies in the fight for racial justice and equality. Not only does he not get it, but he also refuses to because whiteness affords him the privilege of abusing his allyship for his personal gain.

I say this because there is no avenue for what he does if he actually worked with Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC). None. But he does it consistently and is met with open arms by his huge white fan base. As long as white people continue to celebrate the deaths of BIPOC and use them for their own personal gain, we don’t stand a chance.

Winslow can ignore us as his white fans drown us out. He can remain silent and not speak to his mistakes. But let’s be clear, the longer he does this, the more he becomes the poster boy for everything wrong with what white people do and he will continue serving as an example of just how far White people have to go before they actually start getting it. It can’t be on us to educate every single White person, but as long as there are Don Winslows out there influencing their hundreds of thousands of followers, we don’t stand a chance.

That is the key problem. Just like Trump supporters, Winslow’s tone-deafness is purposeful and with intent. Maybe not to do harm, even though he’s doing a ton of it, but to boost himself, clout-chase, and sell more books that demonize Mexicans to willfully ignorant white people. Don Winslow represents everything wrong with how white people think and address the white supremacy that plagues the United States.

He refuses to answer for it because he’s white. His privilege grants him insulation from those he negatively impacts. He doesn’t care because his whiteness affords him that too. And if we call him out, we’re the bad guys. His horde will come after us as they did me. And as most of you know, I can take the attacks. They don’t bother me. But not all of us can say that and White folks couldn’t give a damn about it. They attack us even when they are in the wrong.

If you ever wanted to know why I do what I do, it’s because of white people like Don Winslow.


Arturo Domínguez is an anti-racist political nerd, journalist, and founder of The Antagonist Magazine. He is a top writer on racism on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. If you’d like to learn more about the issues covered here, follow him on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also support his work here.