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Thursday, January 14, 2021

America’s true colors

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I had another column planned for this week. I tried to write it while watching Congress hold a joint session to count the Electoral College vote. I knew it would be eventful, must-see TV, but I never thought it would erupt into the chaos that followed. The night before, I watched police and protesters fight. I thought that would be the extent of it: fights in the street. Arrests. Protests. Chanting. Marching. I never thought people would storm the U.S. Capitol building.

That chaos has left me so angry that I had to switch gears and share my thoughts.
Watching the livestream, I actually heard a thump. Then another. And another. The thumping, I learned, was someone trying to break the glass of the Capitol. The person was successful in breaking through two panes of glass and then opening the door to let more protesters inside the building. If this happened in another country, we would say it was a coup, the country was in disarray and the government crumbling.

Most of the time, I have a couple of days or at least hours to process my thoughts, somewhat. This time, I’m writing my column in real time as the events unfold, so things may change before this column is printed.

President Donald Trump and his ilk have been whipping people into a frenzy for most of the year, if not his entire presidency. Not only has Trump held rallies and prepped people for a time such as this, but he also fanned the flames — heck, he lit the fire — with stolen election conspiracy theories. He’s also had plenty of Republicans — implicitly or explicitly — backing his foolishness. They all bear responsibility in this mess and need to be held accountable. Not long before the Capitol break-in, Trump held a rally where he told people to protest the vote. After anarchy ensued, Trump had the nerve to tweet a request for calm and support for the Capitol police as he sat in the peaceful tranquility of the White House. Talk about a day late and a dollar short. He also sent another tweet asking for calm and reminding his supporters that they are the party of law and order.

And that’s what makes my blood boil. First, where are the rubber bullets and tear gas? Where are the police in riot gear? You would think the police would be suited and booted after the fights on the previous night. They sure would if those protesters were Black. The police response would’ve been vastly different if the protesters were Black. First of all, I seriously doubt a Black person could’ve even attempted to break the window, but if someone did, the attempt would’ve been over after the first strike. Secondly, there’s no way Black people would be walking freely in the Capitol, climbing walls and rifling through the desks of members of Congress. A person was shot and still the police didn’t escalate the situation.

Trump’s reminder about supporting law and order is proof that they support law and order when it’s not about them. They support law and order when it’s about policing Black people. Remember, these undoubtedly are the same people who, angry about lockdown orders, stormed state capitols around the country and got into confrontations with police officers. These are the same people who chant about how Blue Lives Matter when we say Black Lives Matter. Those blue lives mean nothing when they get in the way of violating the perceived rights of some white people.

We watched Black people protest throughout the summer, and these same people who are protesting now are the same ones who continually shouted that Black people need to be arrested. These are the same people who were offended and vocal about Colin Kaepernick taking a knee and disrespecting this country, the flag and service members. So, Black people can’t protest state-sanctioned murder of Black people. Fighting for our rights is offensive to a large swath of Americans. We continually have to say “peaceful protest” to get white America on our side. However, white people can protest, fight police and storm buildings when they believe their rights as Americans are in jeopardy. They believe they’re exercising their rights — defending their rights — as Americans just as their forefathers did. They’re following in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers.

This was white privilege on full display.

Jan. 6, 2021, removed all doubts about who this country belongs to.

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