Telling Us to ‘Tip Our Mask’ Is Racist
We are living in a world where Black people in masks are racially profiled, but Whites with guns are not
By now you have seen the images of heavily armed, angry White mobs storming government buildings around the country. Their overly dramatic handwritten signs are printed with sayings like “Give me liberty or give me death,” “Down with fascism,” and “Sacrifice the weak.” Despite the content of their messaging, what they are really protesting is their own health and wellness, while also flaunting their White privilege. Aside from the stupidity that involves leaving their homes decked out in American flags to protest an invisible virus that has killed tens of thousands in just two months, their brazen contempt for authority is infuriating. What’s becoming evident during this global pandemic are the stark differences between why different communities in this country protest and how each is treated by authorities.
When White people protest in the United States, they come armed as if they are extras in the movie Platoon. As of late, we have seen them dressed head to toe in what resembles military garb, complete with ammunition, AR-15s, and gas masks that obscure their entire faces. The goal here, it seems, is to not only intimidate but also showcase their White privilege as the protesters walk up to police officers and scream in their faces while slinging their weapons over their shoulders. They are so completely secure in the currency of their Whiteness that they know the likelihood being jailed, let alone shot, is damn near nonexistent.
When White folks here protest en masse, it is almost always tied to what they believe is their right to harm and oppress others. Think about it. Anti-choice protests are about the right to control another person’s body; pro-gun protests are the right to inflict harm and fear in others no matter the number of mass shootings; the White supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, was about the right to spread hate and stoke fear. Today, the Covid-19 protests are about the right to spread a deadly virus and kill off vulnerable populations. Liberty for White people isn’t about freedom from oppression—it’s about the freedom to oppress.