Where exactly to begin? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve started this essay. Volumes will be written about the failed coup and botched response (if not by design) by law enforcement for years to come. Anything I write here will only scratch the surface. With that in mind, I’m going to focus on a point I made a week ago: There is no depth to some people’s hatred of Black people and loyalty to white supremacy.
Need proof? Complete the following sentence.
If the domestic terrorists/insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2020, had been Black, ________________________________________ .
My response: the Capitol Police, National Guard, and all four branches of the military would have been deployed in full body armor, brandishing batons, with fire hoses, police dogs, and ultra military-grade tear gas in tow. And nary the sole of one shoe worn by a single Black person would have come with twenty yards of touching a step of the U.S. Capitol. Yea, nary a sole.
If you’ve been living in these United States for at least the last twelve months, you understand the elements that make my completion of the sentence wholly accurate:
- America’s fear and loathing of Black people
- America’s love of white supremacy
These two documented facts inform anyone that Black demonstrators would never have reached the Capitol alive. Photos capture the marked difference in police response to the Black Lives Matter demonstrations of summer 2020 and yesterday’s riot at the Capitol.
So please, no more tears. No more cries of “This is not who we are.” What you and all the world witnessed in all its raging hate and shame Wednesday is exactly who a sizable portion of white America is. This an established habit that needs to be stopped in its tracks. The fact remains: this is America. Own it.
For those of you with short memories, the events of January 6 are not a one-off or an aberration. It’s the latest in a string of predictable events. Remember the storming of the capitol in Lansing, Michigan over a stay-at-home order and the way white domestic terrorists stormed the capitol? Dress rehearsal.
Or the deployment of the national guard over George Floyd protests in Seattle? Or how the national guard occupied Portland, Oregon, for weeks?
Wednesday’s response was yet another well-documented example of how white supremacy is maintained in America. Instead of meeting domestic terrorists with a show of force to protect democracy, the capitol building, and legislators, insurrectionists were met with a negligible police presence which was easily overwhelmed and paved the way for easy access to the Capitol interior. And after it was all over terrorists were allowed to walk away as if they had just clocked out of a typical day’s work. And as of this writing, less than 100 arrests have been made.
Why the difference in police response on Wednesday? The answer is white before your eyes. For white guys, the genie of a thousand wishes is another white guy.
“Calling what happened a ‘monumental security fail’ (WaPo) presumes that the system of law enforcement was established to protect against white violence. But it was actually established as an ARM of white violence. So, not a bug in the app, but a feature . . .” —Tim Wise, Twitter
There are a number of white people who have long lived on the side of equality. It doesn’t matter whether your adherence to this belief system was instilled in them by their parents or they chose to walk this road themselves. They may not be familiar with the racism pyramid or the politically correct buzzwords. That’s okay, perfect and complete knowledge is not a prerequisite to antiracism. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t grow in their understanding. Or that they should be discouraged from continuing a stand. The point is these people are guided by a moral sense of fairness, and right versus wrong.
White folks, there is no reason on earth—real or imagined—to believe that you cannot have a positive impact in this battle over racism. Right where you are. There were a lot of people gathered in Washington, DC, who obviously know a lot less and yet chosen to use their life as their platform for hate.
Your time is now.
Stop making excuses for why you shouldn’t take a stand for racial equality. Or that your contribution is insignificant. This isn’t a competition. Do you think any of those yahoos who showed up at the Capitol thought for a minute that their presence was the “most important”? No.
If not now, when?
Love one another.