Olympic swimmer, Ryan Lochte and his friends-Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen’s involvement in vandalizing a gas station and urinating on it’s premises in Brazil made headline news. Many people were surprised and disgusted by the actions of these young men. Eventually Ryan Lochte apologized over a social media account about his actions that night in Rio but he still faces public scrutiny and dissent over what happened that night. Lochte was suspended ten months from performing in Olympic games as a result of his actions. However it makes me wonder how this would have all went down if Ryan Lochte and his friends were Black men instead of White men. Would they still be given the benefit of a doubt and only be suspended ten months from performing in Olympic games(Ryan Lochte)? Or would they face harsher ramifications for their actions if they were Black men? Hence my analysis would delve into the implications of how White privilege protects the likes of Ryan Lochte from ever facing prosecution and punishment for their wrongdoings.
Brazilian security tapes show Ryan Lochte and his three friends-Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen stopped at a gas station. They were shown vandalizing a bathroom and being disrespectful to workers at the gas station once they were asked to pay for damages that they have done. Security guards had to intervene to stop any dispute between the men and the workers. However, there has been different versions of the story that show that the men didn’t actually vandalize the bathroom of the gas station and that language barrier between the American men and Brazilian security guard led to a misunderstanding. The men lied and claimed that they were robbed at gun point but security tapes showed them to be liars. Nonetheless, Gunnar and Bentz were pulled off the plane trip to the USA while Ryan Lochte took a plane back to the USA after the incident. But Lochte had his passport seized by a judge and ”apologized” for his actions on a social media account.
Here is what Ryan Lochte had to say about the whole incident on his Instagram account:
All four men have differing stories of what happened that night. However a few of their accounts closely resembled what was seen on the security tapes than the other stories. Feigen and Lochte were charged with lying to the authorities as the story picked up steam in the media. Such an incident would be usually punishable to eighteen months in jail but neither of the four men face prison time. Instead Lochte is given ten months suspension from performing in Olympic games, lost many endorsements from companies, and will appear on the reality TV show, Dancing With the Stars.
Do you believe that Ryan Lochte would have been given ten months suspension from performing in Olympic games?
Personally, I believe that a Black man will face harsher ramifications for such actions. Black man has to be twice as good to prove himself worthy in society and can’t afford to have an incident like this bring him down. A White man is considered good and worthy regardless of his character. White supremacist system gives him the privileges to not be as harshly punished for their wrongdoings. White privilege enables the entitlement of White men like Ryan Lochte to lie and cover up their wrongdoings because they know that the wider system will protect them. Look at the incidents of many White men that have gotten away with their crimes. Why else would he lie to the authorities and say that he was robbed at gun point to cover up what really happened that night? Fortunately, the Brazilian security has security tapes that disproved Ryan Lochte’s lies came to light and he was charged with his actions. Though Ryan Lochte did face the consequences of his actions, it is best to believe that if Ryan Lochte was Black, he would have faced jail time. Or he would have never been allowed to perform in Olympic games again. White supremacist system has somewhat shielded Ryan Lochte from facing the full consequences of his actions.
Ultimately, Ryan Lochte and his friends will learn not to vandalize the bathrooms of gas stations while staying in a foreign country to complete Olympic games. Or will they? White privilege will always ensure that White people and White identifying people have more privileges to make their lives more livable. Hence the ramifications of how White supremacist system enables the likes of Ryan Lochte to slide through the system while punishing minor crimes and incidents when it comes to people of color.
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