The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all. – John F. Kennedy
“This isn’t who we are.”
“America is better than this.”
“This is not what this country is about.”
That’s what I keep seeing in my social media feeds today and I just want you to know that they are all lies.
This is exactly who we are.
We built our country on white supremacy and we are continuing to reap the consequences. I watched yesterday as far right extremist-Trump loving-domestic terrorists violently stormed our nations capitol with confederate flags flying right alongside Trump 2020, Jesus Saves and F*** Biden flags. I watched as they broke windows, destroyed offices and stole private property. I watched as they erected a lynching post complete with a noose. I heard audio of what they were screaming. I saw video of them chase a black police officer fearing for his life, so they could get to the senate floor. A picture I won’t soon forget–An American citizen standing in front of the doors of this nations Capitol building wearing a shirt emblazoned with a Nazi acronym that means they wished more had died in the Holocaust.
And I wept.
What we witnessed yesterday was what white power does when it is threatened. It has happened throughout our history. We are not better than this. This is who we always have been. We are reaping what we sow.
We murdered millions of indigenous people so we could steal their land. Then we declared it our country.
(We never had a collective reckoning over this.)
We enslaved millions of black and brown bodies decade after decade after decade and only saw these human beings as property. They were bought and sold like cattle and their lives and work were only seen for how they could benefit our selfish financial or personal desires. We separated thousands of families and made them live in squalor.
(We never received any repercussions over this, nor did we ever pay any form of reparations.)
When a civil war finally declared slavery wrong for all of our United States, Americans immediately created a white run policing system specifically designed to keep black bodies in chains. We then proceeded to take away every human right that they should have been entitled to as American citizens.
(We never had consequences for this as a country in which we were solely responsible.)
They could not vote, own land or homes, get a good job or create a free life. It was not and has not ever been, “Justice for all.”
(Again, no retribution for white people. It has actually benefited us greatly in every way and on every level.)
We hung them from trees and made mothers watch their babies brutally murdered by the KKK. When they wailed and tried to help, they were lynched alongside them. *According to the Tuskegee Institute, 4,743 people were lynched between 1882 and 1968 in the United States.
(There was never a collective consequence or retaliation against white people for all the years we put fellow human beings through hell on earth.)
But that wasn’t enough, we also segregated them after slavery, told them where they could and could not live. We had different bathrooms, water fountains, restaurants, schools and businesses where they were not allowed or they would risk death. One white persons word against a person of color was a death sentence.
(We didn’t suffer any consequence for this as a country.)
We policed their every movement. Police dogs attacked children and used water hoses on them for simply wanting to swim in a public pool with other children.
(No retribution for this, either.)
We spit in a little girl’s face and screamed obscenities at her when she was just trying to go to school. Called children the N word for wanting a desegregated, decent education. *Look up photos from these events. There are white “Christians” in all of them holding signs to uphold racism, inequality and white power all in the name of American nationalism.
(No retribution for this, instead we erected statues memorializing and paying tribute to the confederacy and confederate soldiers.)
We told them they couldn’t sit at the front of the bus, only the back of it. When a woman used her American right to sit where she pleased, we protested that action too.
(No consequence for the abhorrent behavior/policies that created this.)
We told POC you aren’t really an American, so we will call you “African Americans” to further separate “us” and “them.” I’ve heard family members say they like this term because black people “aren’t really Americans since they *came from Africa.” *kidnapped/abducted/stolen
We fight and champion for gun rights and yet don’t want those same rights to apply to black bodies when they own guns legally.
(No consequences for us.)
We ripped out from under them every single basic essential human right from the very beginning, and yet white Americans raged for years when a black man using his First Amendment right to kneel peacefully and respectfully in protest because he understood that the almost daily murder of unarmed black men didn’t start in the last couple decades. It is a continuing symptom of our disease of racism, implicit bias, nationalism, corrupt power, patriarchy and white privilege.
(No retribution for our actions to be seen.)
We set up institutionalized slavery, a for profit prison system that thrives on black bodies being incarcerated.
(Again, we have had zero consequence for doing this to fellow human beings.)
We created a policing system full of double standards that does not serve and protect all Americans, where POC are in constant fear for their lives just driving home or walking to school.
(I’ve never been asked to get out of my car in the 25 years I’ve been driving. Not once. My black friends say for them, it’s every. single. time.)
When white people call the police on black boys, they get shot on site for playing with toy guns, getting a sweet tea or skittles at a gas station but armed white men and women with tactical gear were able to show up in the thousands and breach our Capitol building and wreck havoc with minor resistance.
This country was built on slavery, racism, white supremacy and nationalism. We must stand up as a nation and denounce these evils once and for all by changing our culture in our work places, our family tables and using our voices and influence to to help create a more equal and just future for all Americans no matter their skin color, ethnicity, sex, sexuality or religion.
We must acknowledge our actual past by implementing intentional, meaningful and lasting reparations in hopes that this nonsense of glamorizing our atrocities as “southern heritage” will end with this generation.
Our republic cannot stand anymore with those who are still on the side of the confederacy. Yesterday’s events proved to the world that there are still too many of us in this country who side with traitors and are willing to sacrifice democracy for dictatorship and authoritarianism. The confederate army lost in 1865. It should have all been stomped out then but instead, here is where it has led us to… our nations capitol stormed (first time since 1812) by thousands of violent, armed, confederate flag waving fascists who believe the lies of a washed up, bankrupt, narcissist, power hungry celebrity over people who have served our country for decades, over scientists and doctors, over experts on climate change, over every single reporter/news outlet/newspaper, over veterans who fought for our democracy and freedoms, over literally everyone.
How are we even surprised our country is in turmoil? We handed the reigns of this nation to a man who called white supremacist Nazi’s “very fine people.” He stoked their vitriol with his racist campaign speeches and white power propaganda. He gave them a platform– a megaphone from his rallies, a presence on his Twitter account, and their words regurgitated in his TV interviews. Then, he offered them a seat in the white house and flung open the doors to the capitol building for them to desecrate to their hearts content.
Of course white power doesn’t want to give up control. They see their power slipping away–historic wins by black leaders, Trump voted out, their conspiracy theories proven false, confederate statues being taken down, state flags finally being corrected to no longer be a symbol of the confederacy. It makes sense that they are seething with anger. Trump validated their bogus conspiracy theories and assuaged their dangerous nationalism to get votes and now (mostly thanks to black voters and leaders!) we are two weeks away from having a president who will no longer excuse their evils, pander to their basest desires or incite their violence.
Trump is not the cause of America’s racist roots–not by a long shot, but he has dug them up and exposed the fact that over 70 million of us (most of who identify as “Christian” or evangelical) were ok and even enthusiastic about voting for a man who publicly mocked a disabled man, has 50+ rape/sexual assault cases against him/lies regularly and brags about touching women without their consent. Some of his voters want to live in a confederacy and are actively calling for another civil war as I type. I don’t believe all Trump supporters are right wing Nazi extremists who want to live in a dictatorship and storm federal buildings. I know that because the sweeping generalizations made about Democrats from the right are not true, either. No Democrats or moderates I know are for taking everyone’s guns away, partial birth abortions, communism, rioting and letting everyone out of our prisons. They are not “demon-rats.” They are beautiful, amazing humans that I love. Politicians want to get your vote, so they tell you these crazy generalizations to keep us in the political box and keep us voting straight Rep or Dem. The left and right madness, name calling, broad generalizations/stereotypes have to stop because it is contributing to the false narrative our society is being swept up in right now. There will always be extremists on both sides but the actual number of extremists is much less than the rest of us. We cannot let the extremists dictate our political culture and that is exactly what they are doing.
What we are experiencing are minor repercussions from the society we created with our own implicitly biased, white privileged policies/laws/bills/culture/ideologies. We continually exploited and abused people in this country (and other countries) for personal profit/financial gain since the inception of this nation. We never rectified these events nor apologized for any of them, we never received any kind of consequence or provided any reparations to those we perpetrated heinous acts against throughout our history.
If our democracy is shredded after a racist president served in the highest seat of the land for the last 4 years—a president who was too scared to call the national guard yesterday on his own white supremacist cult members who he himself inspired and incited towards a violent coup attempt on our nations democracy, then we deserve it. We deserve every last bit of what has befallen our country.
Is it–finally time for America’s reckoning?
Vote as if your skin is not white, your parents need medical care, your friend is a missing indigenous woman, your spouse is an immigrant, your land is on fire, your child is transgender, your house is flooded, your sister was the victim of gun violence, your brother is gay, your water is unsafe, your daughter is a sexual assault survivor, because our privilege has no place in an election.
**Getty Public domain images are not my own.**