As the nation and world were transfixed by the sight of pro-Trump insurrectionists storming the U.S. Capitol last week, a familiar refrain emerged: Had this been a Black-led protest, the police response would have been swift and unsparing rather than tepid and restrained.

But this comparison does not fully capture the racial divide on display. This is not just a story of police treatment of protesters. It is a story of how the anger of a patchwork of Americans — united in their rejection of the election and their loyalty to a president who stoked their hostility — was allowed to simmer openly until it exploded into violence and death.

It is a story of how aggrieved White Americans can leverage that anger toward political action in a way that Black Americans cannot.

My research examines how race shapes people’s emotional responses to politics, and the translation of those emotions to political behavior. Wednesday’s assault painted a particularly vivid picture of what I call the “racial anger gap.”

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