The Double Standard
Updated: Feb 1
By Lauren Lennon
Growing up, my parents constantly drilled into my head that I should “stand up for what I believe in, no matter what.” I use these words as strength as I learn more about activism and advocating for myself and my community.
However, despite my personal efforts aligned with community advocacy, actual change has yet to be realized. What is more, if there was any change at all it felt more symbolic or like a distraction from the larger issues at hand. Why was it so hard for people to listen to us? Why did we have to scream to the top of our lungs for justice when all White people had to do was whisper and see immediate action?
Throughout my 19 years, it took me a long time to fully understand what the double standard was and how it affected people of color, more specifically, Black people.
A perfect example of the double standard in play are the Capitol Riots that happened earlier this year. When compared to the BLM protests the stark contrast in treatment is truly heartbreaking.
Tatiana Robinson, a University of Miami Sophomore from D.C., recalls the incident that took place where she calls home. Robisnon has dreams of becoming the Mayor of D.C. and describes herself as a “firm believer in taking action” and stepping up to any challenges that may present themselves. On January 6th, 2021, the day the Capitol building was raided by belligerent Trump supporters, Robinson, like everyone else in the world, watched anxiously as chaos engulfed the city of D.C. Robinson was not able to see the riots firsthand and she felt helpless. Her friends and family were reaching out to one another, sending pictures back and forth, and ensuring that they were all safe. Yet, despite the turmoil, Robinson remains optimistic, “we are gonna come out of this like we do everything else. We are a strong city.”
The world watched with Robinson as rioters broke several laws with ease, scared several members of Congress into hiding, and endorsed the vile messages of Former President Trump. People who didn’t even blink when my community was hurting.
Now, let's take a moment and recall the events that happened this past summer: unjust murders of Black men and women, civil unrest, the fight for basic human rights, etc. Black people fought injustice by exercising their First Amendment right—freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble. We were joined by people across the world who showed their support for Black lives both through social media and protests. However, despite the clear and valid reason for these protests, there was a lot of backlash. I don’t need to remind you of the injuries that were inflicted on protesters as a direct result of these protests, nor do I have to remind you of what Former President Trump said about people (Black people) who were protesting; but I will anyways. Protesters were tear gassed, harassed, and shot with rubber bullets without hesitation. These actions were supported by one of Former President Trump’s infamous tweets. He refers to the BLM protesters as, “Anarchists, not protesters...Biden voters,” he then continues with, “Disgraceful. Never seen anything like it. Thugs." Thugs. Those determined to bring justice—thugs. Say what you want about the BLM protests, you are entitled to your own opinion, however, I think it is important to distinguish the protests from the BLM organization.
So in summary, Black people were standing up for themselves and their community through the act of protesting. But of course, we were seen as the thugs, disgraceful, disrespectful, and basically described using many negative terms. No empathy at all for our cause. Protesters fighting for their lives were treated completely differently than those who were upset that their president lost. But why? The events that have transpired over the past 10-12 months have uncovered the ever so present double standard in today’s society. This has always existed, however, it just took several incidents of injustice and a few months of quarantine for people to see it.
It is not news to anyone that this country is built on racial inequality and is designed to benefit White men. So when angry Trump supporters raided the Capitol, was the Black community surprised that there were little to no consequences? Not at all. We’ve seen this type of dynamic unfold for centuries. One thing we were, and still are, was tired. Tired of being overlooked. Tired of being dispensable. Tired of injustice.
Black people and people of color alike, are forced to be 100 times better than the average White person just to be seen as equal. Then, we have to work 200 times harder to get that promotion, raise, or to even be seen as a valuable asset. We have been harassed until we proved that we live in a nice neighborhood because society does not believe we deserve or can afford luxury. We are required to be overly kind and respectful so we aren’t seen as rude or having an attitude.
So, after years of being told “stand up for what you believe”, I now have come to understand who has the privilege to fully believe and act on that phrase.