The difference between white insurrections and Black protests, explained

OPINION: Flag-waving conservatives can’t seem to understand the difference between Caucasian coup attempts and Black demonstrations for justice, so we thought we’d explain. 

Trump Supporters Hold "Stop The Steal" Rally In DC Amid Ratification Of Presidential Election
Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio

Ronald Reagan was confused.

Unfazed by the higher-than-average ambient temperature and the screams of agony, he didn’t immediately notice that his mental capacity had been restored to its full working condition at first. As he peered across the hellscape to find a familiar face, he immediately recognized George Washington, drenched in sweat, tossing chunks of a Black substance into a furnace shaped like a dragon’s mouth.

“Welcome to hell,” said Washington, as he dumped another shovelful of fossil fuel into the abyss belching forth the fire and brimstone that surrounded them both. “Grab a shovel and get to work.” 

“Hell?” Reagan replied. “I think I’m in the wrong place. Let me speak to a manager.”

“I’m the manager on duty,” said the American Cincinnatus. “Let me guess, you thought you’d be in heaven. Well…Surprise!”

The Gipper suddenly remembered how he earned an endorsement from the Ku Klux Klan after giving a racist speech at the site of a civil rights murder. He recalled how he ascended to the highest level of American politics by demonizing poor African Americans, defending South African apartheid, opposing the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and every piece of civil rights legislation in his life. He even remembered when he argued: “If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so.”

Marinating in the eternal hellfires, Reagan turned toward the father of his country and offered the only defense he could muster to explain the actions that had earned his spot in the VIP section of Hades, asking:

“But what about the welfare queens?”


Jack Del Rio was confused.

Unfazed by the violent mob’s attempt to overturn one of the “freedoms” he claims to love, the Washington Commanders’ defensive coordinator couldn’t quite comprehend why Congress needed to investigate the attempted insurrection on Jan. 6. As he peered across the political landscape to find an explanation, Del Rio belched forth a chunk of false equivalency into the abyss of social media. 

“Would love to understand ‘the whole story’ about why the summer of riots, looting, burning and the destruction of personal property is never discussed but this is ???” wrote the Washington Commanders’ defensive coordinator on Twitter.

“Welcome to Hell,” replied Satan’s shift supervisor, Nikole Hannah-Jones virtual stalker and penis length expert Andrew Sullivan in a tweet comparing the George Floyd protests to the Caucasian coup d’etat. “$2 billion in property damage in the 1619 riots – which were followed by a surge in murders of black Americans. You can despise this mass violence as well as January 6.”

Lucifer Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) excused the unscheduled Capitol Rotunda tour to pro-insurrectionist activist Steve Bannon by juxtaposing the white rioters with the George Floyd protesters. “January 6 was just a riot at the Capitol. And if you think about what our Declaration of Independence says, it says to overthrow tyrants,” Greene said whitely.

It is not difficult to understand why Del Rio, Sullivan and their fellow lip-deficient Americans struggle to understand the difference between the quest for white supremacy and the fight for Black freedom.  After all, “but what about the Black people?” has served as the justification for white people’s penchant for white people-ing since America’s infancy.

Before ratifying the Constitution, Virginia’s delegation demanded that James Madison tack on an addendum to prevent “licentious and wicked” Africans from rebelling against slavery. Sure, the Constitution created a federalized army to protect white people. Still, founder George Mason asked: “​​But what about Black people?” So Madison created the Second Amendment.

Nine years before he raped and impregnated an enslaved teenager, Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia posited that America’s race-based, constitutional human trafficking differed from ancient Rome’s because Black freedom was incompatible with whiteness. Sure, Jefferson believed that “all men are created equal” in theory. Of course, there is one caveat: 

But what about Black people? 

“Among the Romans emancipation required but one effort. The slave, when made free, might mix with, without staining the blood of his master,” Jefferson whitesplained. “But with us a second is necessary, unknown to history. When freed, he is to be removed beyond the reach of mixture.” 

Still unsure? Luckily, we are here to help. 

To assist you in understanding the differences between Black protests and white mob violence, we put together a list of five questions that will answer the question: “But what about Balck people?”

1. What does the Constitution say about this?

Just in case you haven’t heard of it, there’s this little-known document called the Constitution of the United States. Although the 14th Amendment was added after they robbed white people of their right to own human beings, there’s an entire section that says: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Whether it’s voter suppression abridging our voting privileges or police depriving Black people of due process, equal protection and life, almost every single Black protest is an attempt to force white people to recognize this constitutional right. Conversely, white people have historically organized with the explicit purpose of opposing this constitutional right. Lynch mobs formed to deprive persons of life. Segregationists wanted to enforce laws that “abridge the privileges…of citizens.” 

To be fair, when white protesters gathered on Jan. 6 at the Capitol to stop the election count, they were less focused on abridging the privileges of the people who voted than trying to undo the part of the 12th Amendment that reads.

The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; –the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President.” 

U.S. Constitution

Reading is fundamental.

2. What kind of violence is there?

Let’s be honest, there’s no way to prevent individuals from doing bad things (if there is, then white people have a lot of explaining to do). 

Let’s forget the Washington Post report that the George Floyd protests were less violent than the civil rights protests of the 1960s. Ignore the fact that most of the gun violence at the protests against police brutality was committed by counterprotesters. Pay no attention to the bulletin issued by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center on the 2020 protests that said, “the greatest threat of lethal violence continues to emanate from lone offenders with racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist ideologies and [domestic violent extremists] with personalized ideologies.”

Instead, let’s focus on what violence accomplishes. 

If Black Lives Matter protests are, as you claim, intentionally violent, how does that serve the protesters’ cause? No one thinks that the reason cops keep shooting Black people in the face is that we just haven’t burned down enough department stores. Breaking every window in Louisville wouldn’t have made the judge think twice before he signed the no-knock warrant that led to Breonna Taylor’s death.

But when white insurgents assaulted cops during the mass breaking-and-entering on the Capitol Building, their violence was a means to an end. They had weapons and a plan. Their goal was to intimidate, threaten or physically assault the people responsible for certifying the election. 

See the difference?

3. Look at the facts. 

When comparing Caucasian unrest to a Black uprising, consider the evidence. 

There are blatant, statistically proven disparities in America’s economic, education, political and criminal justice systems. We saw what happened to George Floyd on video. Regardless of the year, location or even the crime rate, all across America, police disproportionately kill Black people; you can count for yourself. Racism is systemic, institutional and real.

Now show me large-scale voter fraud. Show me the ballot harvesters or the illegal mail-in ballots. Show me the non-citizen voters, the dead voters or the repeat ballot casters. Show me one single state or county where any official entity has proven that the wrong presidential candidate received a majority of votes.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait. 

4. Does anyone care?

There’s a good reason why Jack Del Rio believes the people who were arrested, beaten and unfairly incarcerated during the protests of 2020 are “never discussed.”

White people don’t care.

Ask Fox News. The No. 1 political news outlet in America isn’t even broadcasting the Jan. 6 hearings. Instead, they will allow their white audience to tune in to hear Tucker Carlson whine about how immigrants are ruining America followed by Sean Hannity talking about Black-on-Black crime. Luckily, Laura Ingraham will be there to quiet any dissent by telling anyone who disagrees to shut up and dribble.   

Plus, I know Ashli Babbitt’s name, but Marjorie Taylor Greene has never mentioned Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young, the HBCU students who were beaten on camera during the George Floyd protests. After all, why should Greene care about students who live in the state she represents? To be fair, the charges against those six police officers were dropped, unlike the four white officers who pleaded guilty to beating a Black protester in St. Louis who just happened to be an undercover cop. 

Or perhaps the disparate outrage is because the Jan. 6 lynch mob was funded, organized and excused by elected officials who are excusing an attempt to overthrow the government they swore to protect and serve.

Damn you, liberal media!

5. What happened to the people responsible?

The No. 1 difference between white protesters and Black protests is the disparate treatment of the people involved. 

Perhaps the reason why the Jan. 6 violence has received so much attention is that Black protesters who commit acts of violence have already been arrested and convicted. It makes you wonder why the pro-militia, pro-gun Republicans who love Kyle Rittenhouse haven’t defended John “Grand Master Jay” Johnson, the member of a Black, pro-Second Amendment militia who was convicted of assaulting officers. Like Rittenhouse, Johnson traveled to a Black protest with the intention of protecting people. Unlike Rittenhouse, when Johnson brought his AR-15 rifle to a protest for Breonna Taylor, he shot zero people.

But of course, you have to protect police officers. Oh, wait…

At least 52 active or retired military, law enforcement, or government service employees (including at least 19 current or former police officers) have been charged in the Caucasian Capitol Invasion. Grand Master Jay’s potential 20-year sentence pales in comparison to the longest sentence for the people who brought bear spray, cattle prods and built an actual gallows to attack the sworn protectors of fake democracy:

Six years.

Del Rio has apologized and was fined $100,000—about 2.8 percent of his $3.5 million salary—for his “extremely hurtful” comments. But on Twitter, he continues to defend the white-on-white crime mob on Jan. 6. Meanwhile, the senators, the representatives, the prosecutors, the white supremacists and the Supreme Court justice’s wife who planned, funded and organized the attempted overthrow of the United States government have not been arrested, charged or formally indicted.

This country will continue to protect whiteness at all costs.

Not only is this the difference between a Black protest and a white mob, it is also the answer to the aforementioned age-old Caucasian question. Whenever anyone asks, “But what about Black people?” America has a standard response:

“We’re killing them as fast as we can.”

Michael Harriot

Michael Harriot is a writer, cultural critic and championship-level Spades player. His book, Black AF History: The Unwhitewashed Story of America, will be released in 2022.

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