The riots that took place at the Capitol building were not only a destructive and immature display of the worst conduct but also showed how white supremacy has and continues to have such a domineering presence in the U.S. One of the most shocking and disturbing aspects of the whole situation is how it further highlights the racial inequality so deeply rooted in this country. Law enforcement’s polar opposite reactions to the peaceful protests for Black Lives Matter versus the more lax treatment shown towards these rioters further emphasizes this divide.
On the day of the riots, Ibram X. Kendi tweeted “White privilege is on display like never before in the U.S. Capitol. If these people were Black…well, we all know what would be happening right now to them.” White privilege is a concept that has been further explored and highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement. It is shown in obvious and discrete ways, on small-scale and large-scale forms. It covers everything from having accurate representation in the media to going into a store and not being followed, and recent events have shown that white privilege also includes being able to breach the Capitol building wielding a Confederate flag and wreaking havoc and not expecting punishment but rather a selfie with a police officer. During the peaceful protests for Black Lives Matter, people stood in solidarity fighting for the human rights and equality that Black people should have been afforded long ago, and apparently this called for tear gas and excessive militant force. But when rioters disturb the peace and leave a trail of destruction in their path, and even re-enact the murder of George Floyd underneath a BLM banner, they’re deemed “patriots.” President Trump adds to the pile of hypocrisy in the way he condemned the BLM protests and called the (non-violent) protestors “terrorists” but spoke with “love” for the violent rioters and called them “special.” If the mob had been mainly comprised of people of color, there would have been an immediate and visceral reaction from law enforcement, but because it was a mob of white supremacists they were given a temporary free pass.
Not only does this incident highlight the marginalization and unequal treatment of people of color, but it also just shows that losing gracefully is a lost art to some people, especially this pro-Trump mob. If Trump had won and Biden supporters were pulling the same stunt and protesting the result, Trump supporters would write them off as “anarchists” who can’t accept the victor who won fair-and-square. But when the election doesn’t work out in their favor, then the conspiracy theories come flying out about how the whole thing is a sham.
This country was founded by slave-owners who believed that White people were the superior race. Now, only a week into the year 2021, this white supremacist mentality that has gotten off on the exploitation and dehumanization of people of color has reared its ugly head yet again and proven the point that while many things have gotten better, genuine and real change is still a long-term goal the nation needs to work towards.