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  • Writer's pictureAuthor T.D. McLaughlin Talks

January 6th is what PRIVILEGE looks like

On January 6, 2021, the United States witnessed a shocking display of anarchy, fear, chaos, and treason as a treacherous terrorist cell stormed the Capitol. While the nation simultaneously grappled real time events and the ensuing aftermath, I sat home with my sixteen and eleven year old sons watching in awe as thugs brought to light what privilege looks like. The events that unfolded that day were not just about the sheer number of goons that participated but the cloak of privilege that shielded them from responsibility and the stark contrast to historical responses to protest in this country. The common belief is that privilege and power often hinge on a numbers game – the side with the largest following wields the most influence. However, January 6th was a departure from this norm. It was not merely about the numbers but the privilege that accompanied the leadership and actions of those numbers. The sitting president, who could not come to grips with having lost the election and witnessing a rival preparing for culmination, openly fueled anarchy and treason. This glaring misuse of power in the heart of the nation's capital was an embodiment of what privilege could and did enable.

The sharply delineated contrast between the responses to the January 6th terrorist attack and historical reactions to peaceful protests was undeniable. Throughout history when black individuals and groups have marched for their fundamental rights, they have been met with unrelenting violence, lynchings, and brutality. However, on January 6th, there were no shootings, no hoses, and no unleashed dogs to quell the insurrection. The Capitol had not experienced such chaos since the British invasion during the War of 1812. The televised scenes unfolded like a spectacle, showcasing the personification of white privilege as the nation watched in terror and some in disbelief.

In the aftermath, the nation grappled not only with the trauma of domestic terrorism but also with the romanticization of the events. The pied piper of the treasonous act continues to sow division, even attempting and gearing up for another run for the highest office despite his role in fomenting insurrection. The audacity to romanticize and rewrite the narrative of such a traitorous day in American history epitomizes the unchecked privilege wielded by those who seek to shape the historical narrative in their favor. As the story of January 6th is woven into the fabric of history, there are disturbing attempts to normalize it. Some even going as far to suggest commemorating the day, akin to remembering Pearl Harbor or 9/11, conveniently forgetting that January 6th was an act of domestic terrorism lead by an ex-president who views himself as an empirical dictator. The privilege of controlling the narrative allows individuals to disguise their subjective views as objective truths, perpetuating a skewed version of history. The events of January 6, 2021, are a clear reminder of what privilege looks like in the United States. From the uneven response to domestic terrorism to the attempts at rewriting history, the consequences of unchecked privilege continue to reverberate and that's what privilege looks like.

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