The Ernest Opinion: Please don’t let this Villanova Parade be another display of white privilege

The Ernest Opinion: Please don’t let this Villanova Parade be another
Michelle Gustafson

Monday night was total madness.

Hundreds of people partook in public intoxication while littering the streets with broken beer bottles and damaged property. Some of them went so far as to remove a bush from a flowerbed and start a huge bonfire. There were five people hospitalized and 25 people who suffered minor injuries from the ruckus following the Villanova win.

Out of all the craziness, the police only made eight arrests and issued one citation.

No, this isn’t a riot based on protesting civil injustice. Nor did the police release tear gas to stop the melee. It’s just another example of how a predominately white university celebrates winning an NCAA Championship. The fact the city is allowing this parade to occur—despite the mayhem on the Villanova campus—is another visible example of white privilege in Philadelphia.

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But this is nothing new. Over the past few months, I have had to grapple with being called the N-word while on a SEPTA transit during last month’s excessive St. Patrick’s Day Erin Express. I’ve had to see protesters of color who called out the Mummer’s parade for its transphobic and racially insensitive performances be held in custody more often than drunk and disorderly patrons.

While Villanova will cover about $17,500 of the parade’s estimated $22,000 cost, these double standards have reached an all-time high when our city is now choosing to blow thousands of taxpayers’ dollars on a parade to celebrate their victory on Friday. Sure, the college is part of the legendary “Big Five” of the “City Series,” but it’s completely outside of the city’s limits. Furthermore, its reputation of being “Vanillanova” doesn’t quite help improve the notoriety the school has gotten for not reflecting the diversity Philadelphia has to offer.

But beyond the demographics, I’m more concerned with the outcome of yet another potential outpour of public misconduct gone unchecked. The media has done a pretty biased job of labeling these activities as a “celebration” rather than mayhem. When black activists protest events, words like “thugs,” “disruptors,” and “rioters” tend to be frequently used to describe them.

In this case, mainly white rebel rousers are typically referred to as “students” with their criminal behavior labeled as “festivities.”

White privilege is the ability to be justified for your actions at all times moreover disproportionately than those of color. I am willing to bet that if Lincoln University was to have won a major sports championship and displayed the same level of misconduct more arrests would’ve been made – and we most likely would not see immediate embrace of a taxpayer funded parade.

Look at what happened to the Greek Picnic. This once highly-attended event that celebrated Historically Black Fraternities and Sororities was driven out of the city after continuous policing and arrests were made. Some have argued that those unassociated with the hosting Greek organizations led to a rise in crime and arrests during the once weeklong festival — but most of the crimes were never as egregious as the public arson and rioting as seen on Monday night.

We most likely will never see such white “traditions” receive the same level of scrutiny and policing in this town – but calling it out is the first step. Let’s hope that Friday’s parade isn’t a repeat of what we have already seen.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the city was spending $22,000 in taxpayers’ money to fund the parade. Officials say the parade will cost about that much, but that the city is only contributing $6,500 to that amount.

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