I have been struck recently by these two images–and the responses to them.
The one on the left is of Colin Kaepernick, a former football player who is African-American, quietly taking a knee during the national anthem to protest the systemic racism that has long been a part of American life. He took this action not because he is anti-American or anti-military. Instead, he took it to try to draw attention to the problems so many African-Americans face when they simply try to live their lives in America.
He was vilified for that action…and has not played football for a couple of years because no team has been willing to sign him. The fact that he visited with a former Navy Seal…and that they had a good discussion about the concerns and were willing to listen to each other…has been negated.
The picture on the right is a recent one of some of those who protested the stay-at-home orders of the Michigan governor. They were part of a large group who were in the Michigan legislature, many of them armed.
I can only imagine what would have happened if their skin color had been different…because it’s happened before. There would have been immediate police action…arrests…calls for them to have been locked up for years…comments about how inappropriate it was for them to have carried guns in a threatening way around legislators.
But these men were white.
They have received support…including support from the president. In many areas they have been seen as “heroes.”
It doesn’t seem to matter that the actions they are protesting have been taken in an attempt to keep people safe. They want their “freedom” to do what they want, regardless of how it impacts others.
If you are tired of hearing talk about “white privilege”…if you don’t think it exists…I ask you to simply think about how these two different protests have been viewed. If Kaepernick’s skin was white, would we have thought differently about his protest? If the Michigan protestors’ skin was dark, would we have responded with anger at their actions?
Privilege exists. It is real.