All around the country, people have been protesting against systemic racism. Most recently, in Kenosha, Wis., protests have ensued after the police shot Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, multiple times in the back in front of his children.
During the protests, Kyle Rittenhouse, a White 17-year-old, shot and killed two people and injured another with his AR-15 rifle. He was peacefully arrested by the police.
If Rittenhouse were a Black man, his arrest would not have been peaceful. This is not just an unsubstantiated conjecture; this is based on what has happened to numerous Black people the police have gone after, such as George Floyd, Atatiana Jefferson, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and countless others. The police killed these five people and none of them even came close to shooting and killing two people and injuring another. They were killed because of the color of their skin.
White privilege is a certain societal privilege that benefits White people over people of color. It exists, and feeds into the systemic racism that plagues our society, whether people wish to recognize it or not. It should be blatantly and painfully obvious, given the history and current state of the nation, yet not everyone believes that it exists.
White privilege is the reason why Blake was handcuffed to a bed in a hospital for a week, despite being paralyzed from the waist down, while Rittenhouse was peacefully apprehended despite being a murderer. White privilege is the reason why Tamir Rice, a Black 12-year-old child who the police killed for carrying a toy gun, was referred to as a threatening 20-year-old man, while Brock Turner, a White, then 19-year-old, who raped an unconscious woman only went to jail for three months as Judge Aaron Persky was concerned that prison would have a “severe impact” on him. White privilege is the reason why Floyd, a Black man, was killed after an officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds simply because he was accused of paying a clerk with a counterfeit $20 bill, while Matthew Bernard, a White man charged with three counts of first-degree murder, was merely sprayed with pepper spray during his arrest after he ran from the police and tried choking a bystander.
Clearly, White people benefit from White privilege, while people of color tend to suffer. Yes, there are other types of privilege that come from affluence, religion, gender and sexual orientation, to name a few, but if the color of your skin does not contribute to making your life harder in any way for you, you benefit from White privilege.
White privilege evidently has devastating consequences. Numerous people of color, namely Black people, have lost their lives because of the color of their skin. In many cases, it is the police that hold these biases.
As of Aug. 24, 2020, Black people are three times more likely to be killed by the police than White people. Out of all the people the police have killed, Black people make up 28% of the total, despite only making up 13% of the entire U.S. population.
Police brutality is an obvious problem, and a great part of that is because of White privilege. It is time to recognize this, and work to fix the system.
In a recent episode of “The Daily Show,” host Trevor Noah emphasized the fact that police brutality is driven by systemic racism.
“Why is it that the police decide that some threats must be extinguished immediately while other threats get the privilege of being defused? I’m asking these as questions but I feel like we all know the answer. The answer is that the gun doesn’t matter as much as who is holding the gun. Because for some people, Black skin is the most threatening weapon of all,” Noah said.
Systemic racism and White privilege must be acknowledged, and society must be radically changed so that everyone, regardless of skin color, is treated equally. Start by reading articles and papers and educating yourselves on the issues. Find petitions to sign, places to donate to if you can and people to email or call to demand change. The only way to fix the system and prevent more people from dying is to radically change it as fast as we can.
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