The two Americas

Ariel Cooper, Staff Writer

Of all the awful, unpredictable things to go awry in the past ten months, it is disheartening yet necessary to say an outright coup attempt was probably something we should have expected. The dangerous gas leak President Trump initially created four and a half years ago during his initial campaign has now ballooned into a titanic explosion, engulfing the very heart of our democracy in flame. 

Yet, despite endangering the lives of dozens of lawmakers, the rioters who stormed the Capitol building on January 6 did not face a police force as lethal as that which the Black Lives Matter protesters did during the summer of 2020. 

In fact, there exist dozens of photos showing these far right rioters simply walking around the Capitol with a recognizable confidence that can only stem from a lifetime of white privilege, and most people seem notably without any fear of being shot, beaten or even arrested. Compare this with the hundreds of images of people of color at BLM peaceful protests being beaten, tear-gassed and arrested by police in full riot gear. 

In Colorado, a peaceful vigil for Elijah McClain with violinists was interrupted by the same police officers who shot him. In Washington D.C., hundreds of Trump supporters stroll into the Capitol building and barely encounter a police force at all. Nothing could have better illustrated the two Americas people live in based on nothing but the color of their skin. 

One America lets people scale the sides of one of the most significant government buildings in the nation, the other experience is subject to assault for sitting in the street in peaceful protest. 

The difference in experience violates the product of the American Dream we have been sold since childhood. The idea that anyone of any origin can succeed, that we are all eligible to achieve our own definition of success, is only freely accessible to one America at birth, while the other has to fight to exercise the First Amendment without being beaten in the process. 

Though the American Dream is currently unattainable in practice, this does not mean that we should not strive to make it a reality. Despite the past four years, we are still standing as a nation and over the next four, we will continue to work hard at creating an equitable future for all of us.