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Thursday, January 14, 2021

It’s on you, white America

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The insurrection at the Capitol is as American as apple pie.

I know many in white America have a hard time believing this, often stating the common refrain, “this isn’t who we are,” or “we are better than this.” Black people can tell you this has always been America. I’ve been saying for a long time it’s time to take the blinders off and be honest about America.

Violence is the very foundation of America. It’s sugarcoated and celebrated as righteous. The Boston Massacre and the American Revolution are heralded events in America’s history. Tea smugglers John Hancock and Samuel Adams are celebrated as patriots. Nat Turner isn’t viewed as freedom fighter but a crazed man hellbent on killing white people. Violent uprisings by white people are viewed as a justified means to an end and these moments were needed to gain the freedoms Americans enjoy today.

Policing and controlling Black bodies is also as American as apple pie. Black people realized in order to gain favor with white people, we had to let them beat us, hose us and sic dogs on us. Any time Black people exert what America says is our right to protest, we’re met with violence or at least the threat of violence. Not so with white Americans. You don’t have to go that far into history to see the difference. The stark contrast was on full display this summer. Protests for police to stop killing unarmed Black people were met with a vastly different reaction from law enforcement than protests to open the states and end the lockdown. Remember Black people getting nose to nose with police officers at statehouses around the country? Neither do I? Black people protesting means police are coming out in full force with riot gear and tactical equipment.

It’s not just police who kill Black people because they’re Black, regular white folk do it too. Father-son duo Gregory and Travis McMichael chased and killed 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery as he went for a run in a coastal neighborhood in Georgia in 2020. The murder of James Byrd by white supremacists Shawn Berry, Lawrence Brewer and John King in 1998 made me realize murdering Black people wasn’t a thing of the past. The cruelty that allowed them to drag Byrd by a truck for three miles exists today.

And if white people don’t go as far as killing us, they tell us what we can and can’t do. We can’t barbecue, sell water, take a nap in a common area in a college dorm, bird watch, take pictures in a park or any other mundane activity white people do every day. Any way we protest or challenge is wrong and unpatriotic. We are labeled as thugs and radicals when we bear arms to protect ourselves. We say Black lives matter only to be called racist and exclusionary and told no, all lives matter and blue lives matter — except when you’re white and the police are in your way.

Now, we’re told the insurrectionists need us to listen to them and understand their plight so we can heal the nation. They’re angry, frustrated and feel ignored by their government. Well, America has barely listened to Black people for 400 years. We’re used to feeling angry, frustrated and annoyed. These insurrectionists are the biggest bunch of emotionally stunted adults I’ve ever seen. All they do is whine about being the victim. Meanwhile Black Americans are told, “suck it up, buttercup” and “if you don’t like it, go back to Africa.”

White America this is your mess. The insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021 is laid squarely at your feet. You allowed this to happen by pretending these wannabe Sons of Liberty and Daniel Shays aren’t your family members. You allowed symbols of the Confederacy to remain, calling it Southern pride. You made excuses after Charlottesville, Virginia. You were silent about the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. You allow Fox News to spew racist, hateful rhetoric 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You blame unarmed Black people for their deaths at the hands of the police. You defend racist cops. You allow white supremacy to flourish because you benefit from whiteness. You allow domestic terrorists to come into your home, break bread with you and date your daughters. You worry about the radical left but never see the radical right. These people are your family and friends, and on some level you agree with them that’s why you give them a pass.

This has always been America. If you remain silent, it always will be. If you don’t like the America you saw, fix it.

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