If We Don’t Check White Privilege, It Will Kill Democracy

Faith Lee, Co-Editor-in-Chief

After Jan. 6, no one can tell me that white privilege does not exist. The terrorism we all witnessed is proof that white privilege indeed exists in this county and it has gone unchecked for too long.

Wednesday was supposed to be a day of celebration and democracy, but white supremacy reared its ugly head and brought the real issues to surface. 

There is no doubt in my mind that the insurrection on Capitol Hill would have been a blood bath if the protesters were African-American. I’m sure they would’ve been met with an immeasurable amount of force: tanks, rubber bullets, tear gas and the National Guard as they were in the summer. 

Over the course of the Black Lives Matter protests, thousands of peaceful protesters were arrested. Those protestors were exercising their first amendment right, demanding justice and trying to fix a broken, unfair system.

While law-enforcement presence was heavy during the Black Lives Matter protests, half of the police force was seemingly out to lunch during the siege of the Capitol despite having prior knowledge about possible violence. 

The mob disrupted a democratic process, ransacked and looted one of the nation’s most sacred buildings. According to CNN, only 61 of them were arrested that day.

They took to the Capitol shouting, “We pay for this,” because they felt entitled, as a result of their unchecked white privilege and that unchecked privilege’s support from Donald Trump. 

On May 29, following the death of George Floyd, Trump responded to the Black protesters in Minneapolis calling them “thugs,” and threatening that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” On Jan. 6, following the insurrection at the Capitol, Trump released a video “condemning” the mob saying, “We love you. You’re very special people.” 

In Trump’s America, if your skin is darker, you are an assumed threat or a thug even if you’re innocent, and the only way to control you is to shoot with no questions asked. If you are white, you can cause an insurrection at the Capitol, make it out alive and still be considered a “special person.”

Watching people smash windows and scale the walls of the Capitol on live television was like a slap in the face. For years, Blacks have been battered, jailed or killed for peaceful sit-ins and marches, but I guess we were doing it wrong. Even when African-Americans protest peacefully, it’s still considered a threat.   

The riots that have occured in the country over the past nine months are unnecessary because violence solves nothing. Insurrection and rioting doesn’t stop democracy; it only creates chaos, anarchy and embarrassment.

I become bitter and irate because people think being Black in America is not hard, but trust me; it’s hard. It’s hard to see people parade haunting reminders of racism and the Jim Crow era: a confederate flag, a noose and a giant cross. It’s hard to see this country fail Black Americans continually. 

Honestly, it makes you wonder: how is this still real in 2021? 

Simply because white privilege isn’t acknowledged, and in some people’s minds it does not exist. 

The way bigotry and hatred has taken root in this county is disgusting. The truth is: those terrorists are afraid. They’re afraid because Georgia elected its first African-American senator and a Black woman will be the Vice President. They’re afraid that change is on the rise and maybe, just maybe their white privilege will disappear. 

I’m afraid too. I’m afraid that if we don’t address white privilege and white supremacy now, it will be detrimental to our democracy. 

The insurrection placed white privilege right in our faces, and there is no way America can continue glossing over this issue. We can’t afford to anymore. There’s real change on the horizon and we have to stay the course if we want to uproot white privilege.