Twitter user Ziwe shared an image that blew up on the social media platform, inviting comments about privilege and systemic discrimination.
We've always known that all protests aren't created equal. While some are looked upon as great freedom struggles, others are viewed only as disturbances. It took the civil rights movement decades to be viewed in a positive light. However, never have we seen such stark contrast in where certain people's allegiances lie than in the past few weeks. While white folks are taking to the streets in order to open America's economy back up - potentially risking the lives of thousands of citizens - black protestors have been demanding, well, to not be murdered. According to Twitter user Ziwe, a photograph captured by CityBeat's news editor Nick Swartsell clearly depicts this raging disparity.
May 31, 2020
In the photo, a group of young white folks can be seen seated at a restaurant. Behind them, protestors march with their fists raised up. While their race can't be defined as easily, it is evident that they are part of Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Ziwe affirmed, "There are two Americas: one fights for black lives and the other fights for brunch." The photograph, while highly contentious, is a poignant reminder of privilege and its intersections with institutional discrimination. The Twitter user provided little context for the picture, but it quickly went viral. Since it was first posted, it has received almost 142,000 retweets and over 458,000 likes.
there are two americas: one fights for black lives and the other fights for brunch pic.twitter.com/TFNsKghfmR— ziwe (@ziwe) May 31, 2020
Several users responded to the image, some appreciating the photograph for providing a small window to peer into the status quo of race relations. One person noted, "There's a time for carelessly enjoying yourself at a restaurant. This isn't it. It's not that it's wrong, but it's extremely tone-deaf, and borderline a spot in the face of those demonstrating." Some chose to add a little humor. Actress Jasika Nicole posted, "I AM SCREAMINGGGGG. 'Grandpa, where were you during the pandemic and the black lives matter protests of 2020?' 'Ummmm... Hashbrowns, I think? Crepes... Bottomless mimosas... It was very loud...'"
“eggs benny, but then we had to leave because the smoke from the tear gas ruined the ambience”— Carly Usdin (@carlytron) May 31, 2020
Nonetheless, others weren't so ready to accept the image in simple isolation. "Not buying this," one user wrote. "I’m completely in support of peaceful protest against a completely racist administration, however, this is an incredibly skewed photo and does more damage because of its complete lack of context." Others agreed. Another added, "I can't stress enough how much damage a post like this actually does. You want to protest police brutality, an inept administration, rights, etc. That's the right thing. But publically slandering people who are just sitting at a table... Come on, what did they even do to you?"
Note also the protesters with masks versus the brunchers without.— Grandma Killer (@GasolineJoy) May 31, 2020
People are breaking quarantine to eat out because they don't give a fuck. Protesters are risking exposure for a greater good but are still taking precautions
Of course, those in the latter group are right to consider other non-protesting folks with empathy. After all, it would not be right to make a snap judgment about those in the photo. But we must remember that the image is a look at the United States as it stands today. Though white folks were more than happy to join Reopen America protests, few have been as involved in Black Lives Matter protests. This is evident in the way that the latter demonstrations have "turned violent." Who is propagating the violence? Can silence and complicity also be violence? Let's not forget the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Who's speaking up for those whose voices have been stolen from them? Certainly not those sipping mimosas at brunch.
Austin Texas yesterday as protestors blocked 35 pic.twitter.com/NMW3WbQcSf— Jerry (@Jerrybgo12) May 31, 2020