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Can the Criminalization of Blackness be Reversed?

Have you dear reader ever wondered why it is so EASY for large media conglomerates to criminalize people of color in the media (to include people of color who are victims), while epitomizing any Caucasian Americans misdeeds as an aberration and not the norm? The most interesting part of this conundrum is that the portrayals are more often than not readily accepted. Yet, it is commonly known that many of the most heinous acts of crime are committed by white men. This includes and is not limited to serial rapist, mass shooters, and serial killers. (This is not to say that crime is solely committed by white men) So I ask now dear reader how do the masses easily accept the narrative that decriminalizes the actions of Caucasian men? This question is especially irksome to me, because statistically they are the most likely candidate to commit heinous acts. How are all of their acts of violence not compounded to create a fear of the Caucasian man, instead of labelling each offender as an outlier who is sick and needs help? Why are people of color not given the same understanding and the chance to not be the villain of every story? Can this narrative be changed?

The Black Lives Matters (BLM) protest over the summer of 2020 and the insurrection in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021 are a perfect depiction of the difference in treatment of people of color and Caucasian people. Not only was the different treatments of the groups highlighted, but it also showed that the criminalization and treatment of people of color in many ways extends to the treatment of their supporters.

The massive and international BLM protest came about following the asphyxiation death of George Floyd by the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. The BLM protest were peaceful protest that demanded justice for George Floyd and many other people of color who have been brutalized/killed by police officers. These protest were intended to highlight the disparity between the treatment of people of color and Caucasians by police, while also stating that people of color’s lives are just as important as all other lives. Yet, many of these protest were met with violence from police officers. People were beaten, arrested, tear gassed, and even killed by police. Many of these instances were without provocation.

BLM peaceful protest in capital. Photo Credit: ABC News

Meanwhile, on the 6th of January following a Trump rally, Trump supporters stormed the capital building breaking windows and climbing over walls/barriers. This occurred during the Congressional hearing to confirm electoral votes for Kamala Harris and Joe Biden as the next Vice President and President of the United States. During and following the attempted coup it became glaringly obvious that the domestic terrorist that stormed the capital building were treated more humanely than the many individuals who participated in the BLM protests. Police officers helped people downstairs, asked about their well-being, did not use tear gas, and did not arrest any of the insurrectionist on the day of the event. The treatment of the groups was night and day. The insurrectionist were committed a federal crime, while the BLM protesters were executing their constitutionally protected right to protest.

Insurrectionist freely walking in the Capital Building. Photo Credit: BBC News

The differences between the two groups was that BLM protests (consisted of many people of color and for people of color) was fighting for the basic rights that should be afforded to them by police officers/criminal justice system and the insurrectionist (predominantly white) were marching to keep a leader who had been fairly and legally thwarted. What it boils down to is who is afforded privilege and who is not. Can people of color ever be afforded the privilege to not be the villain of everyone’s story solely because the color of their skin?

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