Only White Men Get to Have Bad Days — and Only Folks of Color Pay for Them

A White man’s bad day is never victimless. A White man’s bad day is terror.

David Dennis, Jr.
LEVEL
Published in
4 min readMar 20, 2021

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Captain Jay Baker, of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, speaks at a press conference on March 17, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo: Megan Varner/Stringer/Getty Images

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Last Wednesday, Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee Sheriff’s department in Cherokee County, Georgia, stood in front of reporters to explain why Robert Aaron Long had killed eight people — six of them Asian women. “He was pretty much fed up,” Baker said, “and kind of at [the] end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.”

Really. Bad. Day.

Given the fact that Baker himself once released racist anti-Asian merch, his implicit sympathizing with a mass murderer wasn’t even off-brand. Still, you don’t have to be that blatant of a racist to have your first instinct be to defend Whiteness no matter how heinous one acts. Chalking Long’s actions up to a “bad day” was violence by another name — a reminder that only White men are allowed to have bad days, while the rest of us are left to survive the consequences.

Marginalized people exist in an endless time loop of bad days. White supremacy is just a series of things we have to overcome in perpetuity. And yet, living our lives in any way that reflects the days we’ve experienced puts our lives in danger.

Meanwhile, White men who shoot up schools, shoot innocent women, kneel on unarmed Black men’s necks until they stop breathing, and sack federal buildings in hopes of usurping power are given a seemingly infinite supply of bad days.

Entire criminal justice systems are built upon a belief that Black and Brown men are inherently too violent to experience bad days peacefully. Black women suffer from adultification biases and deadly stereotypes of “angry Black women” that rob them of adequate health care and fair treatment in classrooms and leads to their mistreatment from law enforcement. “Bad days” betray our stereotype-based expectations of how Asian women are supposed to act, resulting in…

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David Dennis, Jr.
LEVEL

Level Sr. Writer covering Race, Culture, Politics, TV, Music. Previously: The Undefeated, The Atlantic, Washington Post. Forthcoming book: The Movement Made Us