“White privilege means you don't get killed by police when you break into the literal Capitol.”
This is a sentiment I shared on Facebook yesterday, and I believe it deserves further discussion.
First let me say, these views do not represent those of Springfield Business Journal. It is not the policy of SBJ to make editorial judgments as a whole on political, or any other, events.
While the editorial department does not issue opinions on behalf of all staff, I do want to share some background of the work SBJ is doing as a company.
Last month, SBJ staff members, including myself, held two meetings with prominent members of the business community who are people of color or part of other underrepresented groups to discuss how the business journal can improve its editorial content and events to be more inclusive.
It's part of an internal diversity and inclusion committee that has met weekly for months after the racial unrest that occurred in the summer. One key takeaway from last month: We have to be intentional about including people of color and other underrepresented groups in our coverage while staying true to our business-to-business niche and mission.
As Publisher Jennifer Jackson said in a June 2020 statement addressing the civil unrest, "Springfield Business Journal stands in solidarity with those saddened and angered by the unjust killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the countless other lives and acts of racially motivated violence these incidents echo."
I believe we are making progress, and we've committed to holding ourselves accountable.
That said, I want to be vulnerable for a moment. I'm sure many of you can relate: Yesterday I went through various levels of shock and tearful sadness all the way up to vehement anger and back again as I watched the U.S. Capitol being breached by insurrectionists.
White privilege certainly was on display as extremists encouraged by the president’s social media posts sieged federal property. Video and photos showed a sea of white faces, many wearing inflammatory messaging on their T-shirts or carrying offensive flags, such as the Confederate symbol.
Shockingly, the insurrectionists were allowed to so brazenly breach the Capitol that they made it all the way to the House and Senate chambers and even into congressional offices.
Think about how things would have turned out if the individuals who breached the Capitol were people of color.
I think it's safe to say we'd have a lot more than a handful of dead Americans in the wake, based on the violence perpetrated against people of color over centuries.
Let's go back to the racial protests that were sparked last year by the police killings of Black people. Many peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors were met with harsh resistance by police. Sure, some bad apples took advantage of the situation to break into storefronts, but nothing even close to the Capitol building fiasco we saw yesterday came to pass.
The white extremists yesterday did not face such tactics, as the National Guard was delayed in its duties and Capitol Police were overrun. They freely strolled into the building, destroying windows and tagging graffiti on their way, with very little repercussions as of yet.
It must be noted that Jan. 6 likely would have been a very different, much more violent day had Black folks stormed the Capitol.
Their history with the police is long and horrifying, and reform efforts, rightfully so, are underway across the nation.
We have a long way to go to address the divides facing the United States. We cannot forget the insurrectionists – or their enablers – and we must be more inclusive as a society.
It's not about us. It's about future generations. Our children deserve to live in a country that is free of this nonsense.
We’re working to do our part at SBJ, and I look forward to learning how the business community will respond in turn.
Springfield Business Journal Web Editor Geoff Pickle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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