The Philadelphia Eagles and White Privilege

Photo by: EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/GETTY

On February 4th, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41 to 33. Eagles fans celebrated their first-ever super bowl victory exactly how you would expect. Mass riots ensued and fans were seen in the street destroying public property in the name of a super bowl celebration.Thus far, fans have been seen flipping cars, setting things on fire, and climbing street poles.

Some would argue that this form of celebration is warranted being as though this is the Eagles’ first super bowl victory in the history of their franchise, that is subjective. Police have even complained about being unable to contain celebrating Philadelphia fans. Imagine if the majority of the people vandalizing downtown Philly were of a deeper complexion, would the police still be having this same “difficulty”?

What cannot be ignored is the stark difference between the reaction towards the destruction of public property depending on who the perpetrator is and what their reasoning is. Black activists have often taken to the streets and acted in the same manner but faced intense opposition and police force. In the past, we have seen Black people kneel in protest of police brutality and the rampant killing of unarmed Black men. They are labeled "thugs." and other racially charged epithets. Black activists have been met with tear gas, tasers, and some have even died as a result of public backlash to their protest.

In the eyes of American law enforcement, property damage is permissible so long as the individuals are celebrating a sports victory but, what cannot be tolerated is when the property damage is caused by individuals who are fighting for their civil liberties. People are allowed wreak havoc in the name of sports, not just in Philadelphia but all over the United States. Fires can be started, windows broken, cars flipped, so long as the individuals are not protesting the injustices they face.

The situation in Philadelphia is another piece of evidence that further reveals our reality is shaped by white privilege. When people speak of property damage and safety concerns after protests they really are not concerned about the property. What they actually are considering dangerous is the political message and the people delivering it.