Being White Is Living Life in Easy Mode

How Race Played a Role in the January 6th Attack on the Capitol

Tristan Prosper, Staff Writer

Last week’s insurrection at the Capitol building was a monumental, history-making disaster, to say the least. To put things into perspective, the last time the Capitol was breached was by the British during the war of 1812. Yeah. Big news. Immediate reactions aside however, the riot, specifically the law enforcement’s response to the riot, highlights one of our biggest societal problems today: white privilege. 

Right away, the fact that the pro-Trump extremists were even able to get into the Capitol is genuinely astounding. The raucous rally of rambunctious radicals easily overwhelmed security at, what should be, one of the most heavily guarded areas in the country. When backup finally came, it was several hours late. 

The only response I have to this is: Why? Why was security so barren? Anyone with access to the internet would have known this was a planned event, with MAGA followers tweeting about “taking back America” since as early as November. So, why was it so easy for them to get in?

It did not take long for me, as well as many other Americans, to realize that there is only one answer to my question, and that answer is white privilege. 

White people, who made up the majority of rally attendees, simply have it easier in life. They don’t have harmful stereotypes against them that cause police to shoot on sight. White people also don’t have to deal with systemic racism, which puts them at a natural advantage in many parts of life. And per last week’s events, they apparently don’t have to worry about the consequences of inciting insurrection at the Capitol in Washington D.C.

In order to truly comprehend the effect that white privilege had on the police response to the MAGA rally, we must first take a look back at the same police force’s response during the height of 2020’s BLM protests. The difference between the two is night and day. 

First, there was the police preparation. Many of the Black Lives Matter protests were scheduled, and thus the police saw it fit to show up in large numbers hours in advance, covered head to toe in full riot gear, holding weapons and violent crowd control tools. If that sounds like it makes no sense to you, that’s because it doesn’t. The protests were planned to be (and were) peaceful, so the police had no reason whatsoever to do what they did. 

Compare this to the MAGA riot, which was discussed beforehand by radicals on at least two social media platforms and which turned violent very quickly. The stunning lack of police presence isn’t a coincidence. In fact, it’s pretty obvious from this evidence that the police’s priority isn’t protecting the public but rather self-preservation

The police benefit strongly from three main factors: systemic racism, a bloated budget, and white privilege. BLM supporters are extremely vocal about these issues, so the law enforcement felt the need to protect themselves and their status. Because both the police and Trump supporters play a huge role in upholding white privilege, they were on much friendlier terms come January 6th. 

Next, there’s what happened during the BLM protests. I need not go into too much detail since nearly everyone has seen the videos by now, but it suffices to say that the police’s response to the nationwide BLM protests consisted of tear gas, rubber bullets, violence, injury, kidnapping, swarming, and curfews. 

There was hardly any of that on or following January 6th. This once again goes back to the double standard created by white privilege. White people are not seen as a threat in the same way that people of color are. They are given the benefit of the doubt in situations where POC would be judged immediately. Because of this, white people can do all sorts of things people of color cannot. Case in point: insurrection. 

Yes, by now the FBI has taken action and the radicals are now facing the consequences, but if POC had decided to invade the capital, they wouldn’t have made it out of their own states. 

I’m not saying that White people should be treated with the same violence and prejudice that Black people have to face every day, nor am I saying that POC should be allowed to trespass on Capitol grounds. There’s a middle ground between these two unjust situations, where people of color are not killed for protesting peacefully and white people do not have a natural advantage in life. However, this middle ground will never be a reality when many white people, as well as corrupt organizations like the police, continue to uphold white privilege as a deciding factor in our society.