The Sky Fell…Yet Again
On the eve of a new Presidency…we must not dismiss the events of Jan 6, 2021
On January 6, 2021, not a full week into the new year, as the government was confirming the next U.S. President, the public lived through yet another historic [but unsurprising] event. In an event, unlike anything anyone [currently alive] had ever seen, the country watched as an insurrection took place at the Capitol. Many around the country sat and watched, in shock, some with anger, and some with sadness, but mostly with disbelief with what was happening. Now, a few weeks later, with the president impeached for the second time, the country continues to learn how close to a larger disaster the day could have been. With members of Congress contracting Covid-19, and many fearing they weren’t going to see another day, it’s amazing how quiet your conservative friends and family have been. With an incoming President already making wildly disrespectful and oppressive calls for “unity”, many in America can’t help but shake our heads, as the point is being missed yet again. What happened on January 6, can be clearly [not simply] explained: white supremacy is still held, coddled, protected, and uplifted in this country.
This was an insurgency performed by white supremacists, with the hopes of stopping the democratic process they so claim to love and uphold. This wasn’t an immeasurable act of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy alludes to the idea that there is some respective moral high ground to reject, but this is not how whiteness [the workings of white supremacy] works. Whiteness is willing to disregard anything, even its own ‘principles’ in order for its continuity. What happened on Jan. 6, could not be more metaphorical and literal, all at the same time. A welcomed storm, into one of the highest places in the land. A group of white supremacists were able to achieve success, reaching the seat meant only for vice president, doing so [mostly] untouched. This supremacy clawed its way to one of the highest positions of the country, disregarding all rules of the palace it idolizes. As terrorists stormed the building, they looted and robbed, armed with zip-ties and guns, threatening the lives of those in the building. Most remarkably this same white radical movement had done all things conservatives have tried to use against and demonize Black protestors who have been marching for equality. Whiteness arrogantly disregards any sense of shame in order to maintain what it feels is rightfully theirs: ownership of power. Whiteness knows no bounds of audacity, because it has never needed to, and has been at the heart of this country’s very existence. While the Capitol was being attacked, we all were watching something in our own lives as well. We watched those you know, including your family and friends, aggressive in their defense of the President, crawl back into their holes of hypocrisy, with suddenly nothing to say.
It cannot be dismissed how the President and his allies in the earlier weeks, and even that day were pouring gasoline on a bonfire that had already been playing out in front of our eyes. For inciting this insurrection, the President has been impeached yet again. The public will have to wait until after the inauguration, to see if there are even mild consequences for his actions, but it is four years too late. What we do know is, the “Stop the vote” planning had been going on for weeks, coordinated with members of Congress. This should not have been shocking, to any law enforcement in the area, or to those watching at home. Despite the security [lack thereof] questions, as white America [including white liberals] sat home scared and in awe, Black America watched with no surprise at whiteness doing the thing it always does: kick and scream, knowing the world will hear them, coddle them, with no real repercussions to stress about.
The trauma of white supremacy is unique to the Black psyche. I live in a continual state of being gas-lit, as I recognize the blatant truth in front of me. What was angering about what happened on January 6th, wasn't the fact that Washington D.C. was under attack. The Capitol and the “principles” which it was built upon, mean nothing to me. The principles on which the Capitol was built, were never meant for people who look like me. It was never meant for the Black women this country has found a new spirit of thanksgiving for. It was never meant for Stacey Abrams and the Black women organizers, from sex workers to “traditional” activists, who flipped the Senate. What drew a deep sense of vitriol was seeing that even still, this country chose to protect the same white supremacy from which it was now under attack. I remember watching the events unfold on television as one of my closest childhood friends called me and said, “If that was us…. they would’ve called in the fucking Avengers”. He knew what all of Black America knew, as we laughed through our trauma on the internet: this country would tear itself to shreds without a care, as long as it isn’t Black folks doing it. We knew there weren’t a higher number of casualties because many of the same people who were fighting to turn over a “democratic process” are the same ones who go back home to put on the police uniforms, dress as lawyers, dentists, bankers, and more.
Black America knows what those cops knew that day, many of those cops were in that insurgency crowd that day, just simply out of uniform. I don’t have to imagine what the scene would have been, if it was Black folks out there. We already witnessed it in the summer of 2020, when Black Lives Matter protests were happening in D.C. We saw how the police state pushed Black folks out of the way, and enjoyed enforcing the powers of the empire against Black bodies. The difference played out in front of our televisions, as we saw police helping MAGA terrorists wash pepper spray out of their eyes, and guide them to the steps of the chamber. There is no shock and awe within the realm of Blackness in this country because we have seen what this country thinks of us, what our grandparents and ancestors have passed down to us. Stories that are not folklore or hyperbolic, but that of the truth of how this country continually disregards our livelihood. It was no surprise to see neo-nazis and “proud boys” rip “Black Lives Matter” signs off of historically Black churches the weeks before, only to be welcomed back a few weeks later. Whiteness disregards all limits it enforces on others.
I am not here to diagnose the anger of whiteness. I’m also not here to congratulate white people in positions of power because this was the “final straw” for them. It took white sedition for them to recognize the racism of a man they willingly chose to dismiss. Twitter, Facebook, and other online media outlets get no pat on the back for the bare minimum of what they could have *always* done. Republicans who voted for the impeachment get no recognition for being four-plus years too late after white supremacy has caused an immeasurable amount of Black and Brown death *especially* under this administration. There are no “congratulations” for the echoes of alarm that Black and BIPOC communities have raised for years.
The reality is the disappointment in what comes next. The principalities will not be named, and we cannot expect this to be the end, just because 45 is leaving office. What happened at the Capitol is certainly not the end. There is an incoming President, already making disgusting calls for “unity” with the people who choose not to see my existence as anything valuable. There will be calls under this new administration to “heal this nation” of the wounds from the last administration, as if this country was not built for exactly what happened on November 4, 2016, and January 6, 2021. My own university, which heralds itself as the “peace capital of the west” has called for unity, in an embarrassing fashion, failing to call out what many were shocked by. How many times do we have to do this? How many times does white America have to “recognize” the sky is falling, while the Black community [especially] suffers slow deaths because of the arrogance of white America thinking this country is above what has happened. The cries of “this is not who we are” fall on deaf ears. As Isabelle Wilkerson states in Caste: The Origins of our Disconnects:
“It is a measure of how long enslavement lasted in the United States that the year 2022 marks the first year that the United States will have been an independent nation for as long as slavery lasted on its soil. No current-day adult will be alive in the year which African-Americans as a group will have been free for as long as they had been enslaved. That will not come until the year 2111.” (Pg 47–48).
This does not include the eras of Jim Crow and Civil Rights of the ’60s. This is exactly who this country is. Black America is not shocked. We have told you for lifetimes what this country has been, and there are no rewards for just now recognizing the blatancy of what whiteness is willing to do in order to hold on to power.
What do you expect from a system which sells us the lie that the freedoms of one come at the cost of another? Of course, freedom hasn’t been free under this young reckless empire. It has come at the cost of those who have been massacred under this nation’s imperialistic rule abroad, and under the pseudo-philosophy of capitalism at home. A false doctrine that tells us “there isn’t enough”. The anger of the whiteness which allowed an insurgency against this country’s false gods has been built on that very lie. BIPOC communities and Black folks especially have felt the effects of this lie since 1619. We recognize the lie because we are especially forced to survive it. Black history in this country is just an early preview of how the empire has oppressively worked and is working on all of us. This is not a time for healing, this is a time for recognition, which I believe this country will fail to do. This can be a moment to name the principalities for what they are, and to give a name to the creature that “shall not be named”. This system of exploitation, oppression, killing all of us, has shown up in an exceptional fashion over the last year with COVID-19. In the U.S. alone, 400k dead, mostly Black and Brown folks dying at an exceptionally high rate. Now the rest of the country seems to be taking notice of the lies of the empire. There is a new awareness in relation to the same system that crushes us all, despite our skin tone, ethnicity, or race. We have witnessed a Congress made of both sides, fight over whether they want to give us $600, or $2000, when not enough are asking, “why haven’t you BEEN doing this, even before COVID-19?”. Arguing over money that won’t even reach a large portion of people who will need it more than you or I ever will. I have witnessed Southern California over the last few years argue how to solve a homelessness crisis, only to see Gavin Newsom write a bill to house the homeless in hotels, in the early stages of COVID-19. I have witnessed restaurants use every workaround to build “outdoor-indoor dining” in a matter of weeks, while we let the homeless die every day. I have watched how mutual aid has brought communities together in recognizing that we are the only ones to save ourselves. I have watched all people, Black outstandingly, but white people and others lose their jobs, and have their livelihoods fall apart under an economic system that is willing to sacrifice our young and old, so you can get back to work. People are tired, angry, hungry, and trying to survive. What do you expect from people who are exploited to the brink of survival, which they barely recognize? Both are true, we all suffer under the systems of this empire, but white folks need to be specially called out for believing the lie, that their resolve comes at the cost of my people.
The lies of capitalism are not true, there is enough, for all of us. We can reimagine what this future looks like, but we must first be willing to call out the systems for what they are. This isn’t about “healing the nation” in a way that draws us to a weak moderate position, which will only go to empower the surveillance state. This is about giving names to the principalities which oppress us, firstly with white supremacy, and on a deeper level, an exploitation that robs us all of an imagination to see what can actually be. There is enough, that is not a radical concept. A woman died on January 6, trying to rush the House Floor. She went looking for a problem and was given a solution. That is the truth, just as I hold the truth of not wishing anyone to die under the police state, especially unarmed. Both are true. I do not welcome these white insurgents, but I do want them free from the systems we both suffer [in very different ways] under. If exploitation wasn’t crushing us all, white folks wouldn’t need whiteness to “save” them. Let me be clear, we are not the same…at all. I write no sympathies for a people who disregard my life and stand on the carcasses of my people. The ultimate system under which we suffer is the same. I could not care less about why the MAGA lover hates me. Being Black is a divine spiritual experience, which holds me, and has ancestrally given me strength and resiliency they will never know. I do care about their suffering. Not only because their suffering comes at the costs of my people, but because truly: none of us are free until we are all free.
Credit: Caste, Black Liturgist Instagram, Washington Post, NPR, NBC News, Politico, Insider, Business Insider, CNN, NBC Washington, Stanford Medicine, Bloomberg.