Community Leaders say Capitol incident was white privilege

Written by on January 7, 2021

Community Leaders say Capitol incident was white privilege

By Monica Evans

January 7, 2021

Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. Jose Luis Magana / AP Photo

If the Black Lives Matter movement tried to storm the Capitol Building, police would have responded with a violent crackdown and more shootings. Instead, law enforcement appeared to allow the Pro-Trump mob to enter the halls of Congress with no resistance. That’s the word on the street today.

Listen to the story.

Rev. Gregory Edwards is the pastor of Resurrected Life Community Church in Allentown. Camilla Greene is a Community elder and civil rights activist. They spoke with PBS39 Courageous Conversation host Monica Evans. 

Monica Evans: How did it make you feel watching police respond to the mob storming the Capitol ? 

Reverend Gregory Edwards: 

What we saw was white privilege in action . If they were black folk, if they were black folk that did what they did and storming the nation’s capital and gaining access to the Rotunda and walking into the chambers of Congress, a black man, a black woman, a black child would have not gotten through the front door with such motivation and the terror the terror that white folks felt in that moment. Members of Congress on both sides of the terror that we as persons of black African heritage have felt for the last 400 plus years in this America . So when folks say, ‘Oh , this is not my America.’ Nah, this is the America that we have dealt with and experienced.”

Q: Miss Green, how are people of color reacting to this? 

Camilla Green: 

“People of color, I think, and I don’t want to speak for all, but I know we’re just sitting back, nodding our heads and saying we tried to tell you we tried to tell you, and now that you see it, now what are you going to do? Because we have lived in this America . When people- — I get so angry — I didn’t listen to media yesterday because I didn’t want to hear people saying, ‘This is not who we are.’ This is who we are and when do we begin to grapple with it and accept it and work towards being better?”

Q: Describe how it made you feel compared to how Black Lives Matters protesters were treated .

GREEN

“There are examples when Black Lives Matter try to protest and there’s a guard on every step from one side to the other to prevent entry. And yet my life is not valued, and that’s an image of the extent to which my life is not viewed.

Q: There are people who believe police are biased. What did yesterday’s events elicit?”

EDWARDS: 

“White folks don’t view other white folks overwhelmingly as terrorists. They don’t view them as having some kind of criminal gene, as they do with black folk. So when they saw white men, mostly white men come towards them with clubs and with Confederate flags and Trump flags, I think there’s a difference when you see one of your own. And I think what implicit bias does is it robs you of the ability to be a critical thinker in the moment that could save your life. So, I’m sure there was a great deal of inner turmoil that one of their own, for thousands of their own, were actually coming towards them and they could not control them. Didn’t want to shoot them. Didn’t Billy club them, didn’t stun gun them, didn’t arrest them. I mean, all the things that have happened to us under the guise of protect and serve.” 

Q: What lessons can we take from this ? 

GREEN:

“That white people need to think critically about their own. That we as a nation, and white people in particular, have been enabling white men to their own detriment and possibly their own demise. And there has to be a line in the sand”

Q: What are your thoughts on that Reverend Edwards?

EDWARDS:

“In the words of Brother Malcolm, the chickens have come back home to roost. If white people do not interrupt white supremacy and white privilege in real time, it will inevitably destroy them and the nation. And I think it’s a mistake. Folks label those very violent domestic terrorists as crazy and as lunatics, and you don’t address this as a systemic issue. This is a byproduct of a president who was a symptom of an American pathology called racism.”

Q: There are some that say there are two playing fields: one was a civil rights issue with Black Lives Matter. But what we saw yesterday, some believe it was a disregard for democracy. Miss Green, your thoughts on that?

GREEN

“I believe that America, at its very core, is a racist country and that everything that happens happens in support of white supremacy. I believe the people in power have no intention of creating an equal society where all of us can live in our full humanity.” 

EDWARDS:

“I absolutely agree with Sister Camilla. I would also say the reality is that there are people who benefit from the unlevel landscape until they see themselves as a part of the problem. They can’t be a part of the solution. America and white folks in positions of privilege and power must see that they themselves are at danger if they don’t address it.”

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