The recent rowdy celebrations in the streets of Philadelphia following the major victory of the Eagles at Super Bowl LII looked oddly familiar to many spectators. The massive crowds of people damaging public property, turning over cars, and raiding convenience stores may have been interpreted as overwhelming joy in sports while others saw it as a glaring reminder of white privilege and power. In 2017, many members of the Black Lives Matter movement took to the streets of Philadelphia to protest the deaths of many African Americans by police officials across the country. There is a stark difference in how the community reacted and how Philadelphia police handled both situations.
When the BLM movement protested in the streets, they were greeted with crowd control officers, tear gas and walls of clear shielding. The group was also faced much social opposition being that 57% of people in America had an “unfavorable view” of the BLM movement, with the majority of those opposed to the group being white. When sports fans took to the streets and destroyed storefront awnings and flipped cars, the Philadelphia law enforcement received a more passive approach. Many officers were seen high-fiving fellow sports fans as they ran through the streets.
The issue is simply that when an organized movement comes together to protest the innocent killing of African Americans in our country, they get social and legal backlash. They are treated as though they are doing wrong by speaking out against innocent murders of American citizens by law enforcement. They are told they are damaging city property and are hurting the city and especially their own community. Yet, when sports fans take to the streets to destroy Philadelphia property in celebration, they are greeted by law enforcement with passiveness and even encouragement in the name of sports idolatry and celebration.
This is when the idea of white privilege comes into play. Americans see a difference in public reaction when white citizens rally in the streets in celebration to when African American citizens rally an organized movement that focuses on social change. Why is there such a different view on the two acts? If race were set aside, naturally you would infer that law enforcement would be much stricter on intoxication, and rowdy sports fans, over an organized planned protest. This recent article released by Newsweek has many people beginning to think about how white privilege plays a part in our social perspectives.