Today America Showed Us Exactly Who It Is. Believe It.
I know I shouldn’t feel this way. I fight it with everything I have. I’ve worked to feel something other than what my most base instincts are pulling at me to feel. My brain tells me to keep these thoughts somewhere in my gut, away from my mouth and the keyboard at my fingertips. But I can’t help it. The voice is still there: Why aren’t police shooting these people?
January 6, 2021, is one of those moments in American history we’ll always remember. One that redefined the country and tore through a bottomless well of facades built on preserving White myths. Trump supporters — whether Proud Boys or MAGA Nation or neo-Nazis or all of the above or anything else — armed themselves with heavy artillery and stormed Capitol Hill. They scaled the Capitol building. They took the House floor. They occupied the offices of sitting representatives. They did this all on national TV and live on Twitter. They livestreamed themselves doing it.
The whole time, I kept waiting for police to shoot someone.
This is how injustice rots everyone to the core. I don’t believe in police violence. Hell, I don’t even believe in police. But I do believe in fairness, and if nothing else, America is sniper-precise at perverting the notion of what’s fair. I’ve spent the last decade watching police arrest, terrorize, brutalize, hunt down, and violate peaceful Black activists who simply want answers for police killings of innocent people. This past summer, we all watched police with shields and tear gas and drawn guns, with tanks, line American streets with the blood of Black Lives Matter protesters.
And yet, today, the entire United States government has reinforced the need for all of those protests — and exposed its own hypocrisy in reacting to them.
When Black people protest in front of a Target in Minneapolis, police arm themselves for war. When White people storm government buildings they are met with selfies and a meager police force. Black Lives Matter protesters were called anti-police and inciters of police violence when it’s these MAGA goons who are actually attacking police. When Black people tried to make the country #SayHerName, they were called rioters. And today, too many journalists and publications used the word “protesters” to describe treasonous White attackers. Black people were lectured about property damage while it is these White agitators who are looting federal buildings and carrying Confederate flags into the Capitol.
It’s one thing to know the double standards and ways our Black bodies are under siege, to have an understanding that we’d be treated differently if we were White. It’s another to see it play out. To see acts of war and sedition treated with more grace and care than a Black man accused of using a counterfeit bill or a Black woman pulled over for a traffic violation. It cuts a wound I’d long thought had scarred over and become numb.
Each minute that police stand around with their hands behind their back or open the goddamn gates for these White people, is a reminder that the only protected party in America is whiteness. The rest of us are susceptible to the whims of that party’s violence.
Today is the dimming of the gaslight that suggested that America cared about law and order, police, fairness, the flag, Democracy, free and fair elections, the Constitution, the will of the people, equality, police procedure, blue lives, and America itself. The only law of the land is the law that maintains white supremacy. There is no rule of law besides anti-Blackness.
Philando Castile was pulled over dozens of times for driving while Black before finally being killed by police. Ahmaud Arbery was tased for sleeping in his car before he was murdered. Aiyana Jones was killed while napping on her living room couch. These, and far too many more people, will be on my mind the rest of the day as I watch police escorting terrorists through their acts of violence, all the while tamping down my own desire for revenge and the type of violent retribution they deserve.
Tomorrow, these hundreds of MAGA sycophants and the millions who support them will take off their stupid hats and Punisher cosplay attire and walk among us again. Again they’ll blend into society, unimpeded by the obstacles that have worn on the rest of us our entire lives. They’ll be our employers and servers, our police officers and politicians. And as today has proven once again, we are on our own in protecting ourselves from the violence they bring to our doorsteps every day — with the knowledge, more than ever, that they have America’s full support.