#WhitePrivilegeMeans Trends on Twitter Amid Nationwide Black Lives Matter Protests

Source: AP
Source: AP

Video of the police killings of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, man Alton Sterling and Minneapolis resident Philando Castile, as well as a mass slaying of five police officers at a peaceful rally in Dallas, dominated the news cycle this past week. The incidents reignited a wave of Black Lives Matter protests and discussion about high numbers of disproportionately black people killed by law enforcement across the country.

But while policing is one of the core issues at stake, so too is the implicit privilege enjoyed by those who aren't the subject of so much physical force by the authorities. On Twitter, users responded with the hashtag #WhitePrivilegeMeans in an attempt to shed some light on the forms this privilege actually takes.

While #WhitePrivilegeMeans has trended before, Twitter user Matt Edelstein (@Shoq) told Mic via email he restarted the hashtag in the wake of the shootings in order to provide an "approach for a complex idea that white people are pretty resistant (or unwilling) to understand."

"I decided to resurrect the tag while the topic was being made hot by the Anton, Phillipe and Dallas horrors ... and all the noise I knew would be on cable all weekend," Edelstein wrote. "... In any event, as a 9 year veteran of Twitter, and a strong friend and supporter of [activist Deray Mckesson, who was arrested during a recent protest in Baton Rouge] and the movement, I felt it was a splendid teaching moment and that tag simply had to be resurrected right now, while the topic was very germane. Especially since the Dallas shooting was giving the #bluelivesmatter crackpot police apologists a chance to seize the narrative."

According to Edelstein, the hashtag trended for approximately seven hours, saw over 180,000 tweets, and resulted in a bevy of negative feedback from aggrieved Twitter users unpleased with the hashtag's message.

Here's a sample of what Twitter was saying about privilege in the past few days.

July 11, 2016 at 6:19 shp.m.: This story has been updated with more information about the revival of the #WhitePrivilegeMeans hashtag by Twitter user Matt Edelstein (@Shoq).

Read more:
• Philando Castile Is the 115th Known Black Man Shot and Killed by Police in 2016
• Alton Sterling Is the 114th Known Black Man Killed by Police in the US in 2016
• This White Woman's Shocking Account of Police Brutality Has a Lesson About Race in America

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Burned Quran stuffed with bacon found outside California mosque

This isn't the first time bacon has been used as an act of provocation against Muslims.

Charleena Lyles was a "powerful lady" — until she faced Seattle's flawed criminal justice system

Like Charleena Lyles, women who experience mental health instabilities have been more likely than men to encounter a criminal justice system that is ill-equipped to treat them.

NFL players donate $20,000 to youth football team that was punished for national anthem protest

"We wanted to make sure that we sent those kids the message that it's OK to stand up for what you believe in," Malcolm Jenkins said.

10 things you might have recently missed in the movement for social justice

From Charleena Lyles and Nabra Hassanen to acquittals and vigils, the last few days haven't been easy to keep up with.

Judge declares mistrial in retrial of officer who fatally shot Samuel DuBose

The jury spent five days deliberating Ray Tensing's fate.

University of Missouri to revoke Bill Cosby's honorary degree

The president of Mizzou said Cosby's actions were not in line with the university's core beliefs.

Burned Quran stuffed with bacon found outside California mosque

This isn't the first time bacon has been used as an act of provocation against Muslims.

Charleena Lyles was a "powerful lady" — until she faced Seattle's flawed criminal justice system

Like Charleena Lyles, women who experience mental health instabilities have been more likely than men to encounter a criminal justice system that is ill-equipped to treat them.

NFL players donate $20,000 to youth football team that was punished for national anthem protest

"We wanted to make sure that we sent those kids the message that it's OK to stand up for what you believe in," Malcolm Jenkins said.

10 things you might have recently missed in the movement for social justice

From Charleena Lyles and Nabra Hassanen to acquittals and vigils, the last few days haven't been easy to keep up with.

Judge declares mistrial in retrial of officer who fatally shot Samuel DuBose

The jury spent five days deliberating Ray Tensing's fate.

University of Missouri to revoke Bill Cosby's honorary degree

The president of Mizzou said Cosby's actions were not in line with the university's core beliefs.