Originally published January 11, 2021
The Double Standard. This article is about privilege, specifically white privilege.
I talk a lot about privilege in my work, in fact Breakfast Culture offers an entire course that teaches about Power & Privilege because we ALL benefit from some form of privilege.
I recall discussing the concept of privilege with a non-racialized friend who maintained that there was no such thing as white privilege. They informed me that they grew up in a lower income neighbourhood and had to work hard for everything they earned. First, kudos, to them, I see how they have worked tremendously hard and are reaping the benefits of their hard work today. I do not discount their lived experience or that things were hard for them.
In Western Society there is a double standard for racialized peoples versus non-racialized peoples. This is white privilege. Period. And white privilege unchecked, leads directly to racism. Racialized peoples see it every single day because we live it.
This month the world witnessed this double standard, this white privilege and/or systemic racism. The two pictures below are from two protests that took place at the U.S. Capitol Building months apart and with different groups of people, one primarily Black and the other primarily White.
The image on the left was taken in June 2020 and it’s the U.S. government’s response to a mostly peaceful Black Lives Matter protest against the regular and often unpunished brutal murder of Black people by the state – the police. Thousands of arrests were made immediately even though no one was killed.
The image on the right was taken January 2021 and it’s the U.S. government’s response to an outright coup attempt by mostly non-Black people. Less than 100 arrests were made days after even though people were killed, including a police officer. Yet, the police rendered aid, took selfies and even helped the rioters to get inside.
This is the double standard. To quote Shree Paradkar, Race and Gender Columnist in the Toronto Star it is the standard. Her opinion piece “The tens of thousands of white people who rioted at the U.S. Capitol were reclaiming white supremacy” is worth a read.
CNN’s Van Jones states: “Every young person, I’ve spoken to, especially young people of colour, got the message loud and clear. That they can be beaten, arrested and worse for jaywalking, for just being an African American in a store and yet you can have a band of White traitors, go and tear up the Capitol Building and walk out... They were basically escorted in and escorted out. They should all be in jail right now… You just sent the best message, or the worst, to a whole generation. Black, White, Brown and otherwise that there is a double standard like you would not believe. Tens of thousands went to jail for George Floyd and thirteen went to jail for way worse. You just taught a generation of people that there is a need for real reform in this country.” This three-minute video clip “Van Jones: Unbelievable statement about race in this country” is also worth watching.
Something that gives me hope is I am noticing how many non-racialized people are finally losing their blinders and seeing this double standard.