By Dmitra Smith
January 6, 2021, will go down in the annals of history as a day of terror, violence and sedition.
White supremacist mobs, incited by Donald J. Trump and his conspirators in Congress, stormed the U.S Capitol with the full intent of destroying the certification of the electoral votes for Joseph R. Biden and subverting the democratic results of a free and fair election.
As the country reels from this violent insurrection, it’s become clear that well-coordinated militia operatives intended to kidnap and assassinate members of Congress, and five people are dead as a result of this horrendous incident of domestic terrorism.
It’s the lack of preparedness for what so many warned of, and the shock and awe expressed by politicians and pundits in the wake of this incident, that adds so much insult to injury. One need only look to Tulsa, Rosewood, Wounded Knee, Charleston and more than fifty other massacres in our nation’s history that bear the familiar hallmark of white supremacy. This is who America is.
The foundations of white supremacy are wholly without merit or tangible truth, and therefore, violence must be used to perpetuate it. America has chosen time and again to abdicate the responsibility to dismantle white supremacy. This has served to uphold power and cling to the lie that this country was built on liberty and freedom, even as the slaveholding framers drafted our constitution to declare any non-free individual be counted as three-fifths of person.
As we watch corporations, sports platforms and municipalities boldly declare they will no longer do business with the Trump Organization in the wake of the insurrection, this too is a display of white supremacy. It must be noted that alignment with “very good people” in the Charlottesville riot, babies torn from their parents’ arms and placed in cages, racist dog whistling to militia groups, 26 sexual misconduct allegations, pathological lies, callous disregard for the ravages of Covid-19 in BIPOC communities, and violent repression of peaceful protest for Black Lives, were not enough to break ranks.
It must be mentioned that while no member of Congress should have been endangered, that someone had dismantled the panic button system in Ayanna Pressley’s office, that Alexandria Ocasio Cortez reports she nearly died, and that Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman had to lure a vicious white mob away from the Senate with his Blackness. It must be mentioned that over 250 Black police have sued the Capitol Police Department for racial discrimination since 2001. It must be noted that Black Lives Matter protests since 2014 have been met with tanks and teargas, snipers and beatings, enforced disappearances and unsolved killings of organizers.
The Republican members of Congress who now call for healing, while refusing to fulfill their constitutional oaths, while aiding and abetting a President who committed authoritarian sedition and aligned himself with the terror of white supremacy in this country, must resign. This is the ultimate display of white supremacy and privilege. It demands loyalty while giving none, shirks accountability for its damage and lies, and feels entitled to a double standard which it only extends to itself.
This President must be impeached, to bar him from holding office again and to deny him a pension paid for by the American people, which he does not merit. Let us not lose this moment, in this second Civil Rights Movement. Structural racism still defines this machine. The necessary business, the good trouble, of dismantling white supremacy can no longer be abdicated to future generations.
January 6, 2021, represents what James Baldwin meant when he said, “People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned.” White supremacy must be dismantled, for this country to survive.
Dmitra Smith is the Former Chair of the Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights. To have your topical essay considered for publication, write to us at [email protected]