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Making Cultural Connections to the Capitol Commotion

By Dr. Lamont Ali Francies

January 10, 2021

On January 6th, 2021, the world watched in anticipation while tens of thousands of President Trump’s ardent supporters invaded the nation’s capital in zealous indignation. Donald J. Trump loyalists came from all across the country for a “Save America” rally to invalidate the outcome of the 2020 presidential race. An election that was largely decided by strong African American voting turnouts in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. As a result, Black Americans are responsible for altering the course of world history by once again protecting a democracy that in so many cases refuses to protect us.

As we investigate the carnage of his failed coup, we see how the commander in chief decided to utilize his executive authority to once again silence Black opposition by cloaking the routine of racism in the rhetoric of American patriotism. This procedure however is not new to the presidency. It has been practiced for years without a serious nationwide examination. What we witnessed was a white rage that operates overtly and covertly through laws and legislation designed to create a sense of entitlement. It was this entitlement that propelled the Capitol invasion. Donald Trump further incited insurrectionists by creating conspiracies and constructing caricatures of the opposition. Today it is these myths that remain pillars of pedagogy in education and continue to shape racist practices that produce predictable outcomes. Trump supporters responded to his apocalyptic rhetorical rants by yelling, “Stop the Steal! Stop the Steal!” But in reality, if the United States had lived by that sentiment this land would still belong to the indigenous peoples, many Black Americans would have knowledge of their African ancestry, and Melania Trump would’ve had a totally different convention speech.

The President of ‘law & order’ privately cheered as his followers violently broke into the U.S. Capitol building. Ironically, as Donald Trump promised to build a wall to maintain order, his followers climbed walls to create disorder. Trump loyalists pushed past an overwhelmed and unprepared capital police force. Some officers were even captured taking selfies with the seditionists. Although the writings concerning this act of war were on digital walls, the 2,000-member Capitol police (whose job it is to secure the legislative complex) were caught flat-footed. Truthfully, we have seen a better security detail from COGIC (Church of God in Christ) ushers on Easter Sunday or from ‘Day-Day’ and Craig in a Southcentral strip mall. The truth is that their unpreparedness revealed a cultural and racial blind spot.

As these domestic terrorists moved throughout the Capitol building they sought to desecrate and destroy symbols of a ‘sacred’ democracy. They injured officers, destroyed desks, obliterated offices, turned over tables, and had elected legislators running for their lives. As many were horrified by the sight of their profane presence, Black people are reminded about Tulsa, Oklahoma 1921, Rosewood, Florida 1923, Botham Jean, 2018, the home of Breonna Taylor 2020, and the many African countries today that can echo the same sentiments about the European powers of imperialism. In South Africa for example, not only was the region ravaged by Dutch & British invaders, these uninvited guests have settled in and placed their name of the deed on the country. So as the nation looks at this recent act of pillage and plunder with disgust, I wonder what will be their collective response to the physical, structural, and psychological invasion of Black America? As people of African descent, we can no longer accept empathetic rhetoric with no results, we must demand reparations for the past and present institutional ravishing of Black America. We must hold enemies of racial progress accountable for their actions by identifying their platform(s), their partners, and their procedures.

In 1865, Confederate insurrectionists were given pardons by President Andrew Johnson. They were allowed to retreat to their corners, however, they never took off their gloves. The rebels today are still waging war on Black America through misinformation, miseducation, economic castration, and mass incarceration. We have always understood nevertheless that racism isn’t regional. We witnessed rioters congregating in the Capitol from all parts of the country while gaining strength from their brotherhood of bigotry. As the Capitol is now cleared out, we see the spirit of those confederate insurrectionists retreating however it has never been removed. Therefore the next Donald Trump will not have to resurrect that spirit, only simply revive it.

As U.S. elected officials seek to give consequences to the co-conspirators of this American catastrophe, we must not seek to blame this on one individual. Racism did not start with Trump nor will it end with him. The truth about Trump is that he did not act alone. Trump is an enigma created by the myth of American ethnocentrism and exceptionalism. He was both sanctioned and supported by Blacks who wanted his prosperity and by whites who desired his protection. His infantile reality-show presidency was given a microphone by the media, a megaphone by Twitter, a pulpit by his party, and constant coverage by his competitors. There is plenty of blame to go around. It is clear today that Donald Trump is not an aberration of White supremacy, he is the embodiment of it. Obama is who the nation aspired to be, Trump is who we are. President Trump may have fanned the flames of racial division but he did not start the fire. The fire was started at the inception of this country and in 2021 the flames are still burning bright. At this time Donald Trump and his loyalists feel rejected, robbed, invisible, and ignored. Well, Mr. President, welcome to the world of Black America.

Photo Credit New York Times

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