Jane Fonda has now been arrested for the fourth week in a row while protesting on Capitol Hill to bring attention to the climate crisis.
Jane, who is a life-long activist, previously declared that she is intended on raising hell every week for what she calls Fire Drill Fridays (inspired by Greta Thunberg‘s Fridays For Future).
She recently amended her intention, however, after learning that getting arrested too many times for the same offense can land her 99 days in jail. She told Vulture,
“I decided that Jane Fonda’s martyrdom is not exactly going to be helpful for the movement. It’s not the getting arrested as much as it is just calling attention to the crisis and raising attention for the urgency.”
Jane is using her platform for an incredibly important cause. But make no mistake about it, her ability to get safely arrested is a byproduct of white privilege.
For many people of color, transgender individuals, immigrants, and more, getting taken into custody by the police can be extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening.
Activist Laverne Cox expressed this sentiment quite eloquently in October 2018 and said,
“I don’t do a lot of marches, and I have a lot of guilt about that. But as a black trans woman, me getting arrested is different. Trans people experience horrible shit in prison.”
And Laverne is right, of course. Trans people, especially when placed in a prison based on their assigned sex at birth and not their gender identity, are not safe in the prison industrial complex.
According to the organization Mapping Police Violence, black people are three times more likely to be killed by the police than white people.
As a white woman, and a prominent one at that, Jane Fonda is more likely to be treated with care by the police who arrest her, especially with the nation watching.
Of course, nobody can control whether they are born with privilege. But they definitely can control what they do with it.
Jane has decided to use hers to bring attention to our current climate crisis. She uses her platform to bring attention to a topic that not nearly enough people care about and her ability to get arrested ensures that she will make the news.
It’s time we all take notes from Jane. Because everyone who is born into privilege has a duty to use to for good, whether it’s spreading the word about an important cause or sharing your platform with those who need it most.