Pain vs. Vain: A letter to the future leaders of America


Kalli Tulipano

On Jan. 6, 2021, an attempted insurrection occurred at Capitol Hill. Many made comparisons to the Black Lives Matter Protests. Drawn by Kalli Tulipano.

Bella Nisperos, Staff Writer

Dear teenagers scared for the future of our country after the Capitol riots, 

I hope many of you have thought about the idea of pride these past few weeks. Within the first few weeks of 2021, I already felt my definition of pride fluctuate watching the events in D.C. I urge you to not become discouraged, and to not distance yourself from movements of change. 

“We’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue,” said former President Trump in a “Save America” rally. He said this the morning of Jan. 6—the day that the riots took place on the Capitol building. 

I’m sure you could feel the most outright and transparent pride through your TV screen. Watching what happened at the Capitol showed us a type of pride that we want no part in. A type of pride that we want nowhere near the country we live in- let alone a building that stands as a symbol for our democracy.

It was a different pride that I felt watching the Black Lives Matter protests. Although I wasn’t proud of the systems that caused these protests, I was proud that I live in a country where we recognize injustice and we fight for it. I remember seeing real pain in their eyes- the only pain that comes from years of systemic racism. 

On the other hand, I could only see vain conviction in the eyes of the rioters on Jan. 6. 

After what felt like a news watch party, I took to Instagram to see numerous posts of disappointment, anger, and (mostly) embarrassment. While I am extremely embarrassed and angry, I am the least surprised. America has a history of authoritarianism and violence that ensues from election results. 

I compared this to what I saw on Instagram in response to the Black Lives Matter protests, which was the first time I felt us use social media to express political opinions. I saw posts such as “how to check my biases”, “how I can help the BLM movement”, and the difference between “systematic” and “systemic.” I saw posts suggesting organizations that you can donate or support. I saw dozens of posts shared and scattered in my following’s stories. 

Although the responses to the events were drastically different, I was surprised how quickly people compared the two. These false equivalencies are particularly dangerous, especially because of the misconceptions that were already in place surrounding the BLM movements. 

The police treated the Black Lives Matter protesters in a proactive manner, while the rioters (who claimed to be protesters), were treated in a reactive manner. In the summer, police would show up to peaceful protests before the protesters even got there. On the other hand, the rioters were essentially attacking the police. In sum, they cite law and order until it’s people of color. 

Fighting for your rights is completely different than having an outburst because you lost an election. 

While members from the right distanced themselves from supporting the current president, I urge many of you to not distance yourselves from movements you believe in. If you have not supported those movements, I urge you to reflect on the actions of the rioters at the Capitol, and think about the change our country needs going forward. 

What happened at the Capitol made me realize that although Trump is physically out of office, the white supremacy he uprooted and amplified will linger long after Jan. 20-unless we do something now.