Last week, a mob, a riot, an insurgency of right-wingnuts urged on by our traitorous president and sycophantic members of Congress attacked the Capitol Building of the United States of America. They bloodied and killed police, well, they bloodied the police who weren’t holding the doors for them or taking selfies. They terrorized members of Congress. They destroyed property and stole from The People’s House. They basically acted like right-wingnuts.
All during the terrorist insurrection, people were asking where the cops were. You could only see a few who were actively trying to stop the vandals. Partly this was due to bad planning on the part of the Capitol Police. According to news reports, the police and National Guard didn’t believe that Trump’s rally would turn into a riot despite the weeks of social media posts calling for violence that day. Why did they underestimate the crowd and its ferocity? My guess is it was because the misanthropes were mostly white.
We can all remember the show of force the federal government put on during the Black Lives Matter protests. Thousands of anonymous officers dressed as stormtroopers lined D.C.’s streets to keep the Black people and their allies in check because you know how those people get. But white people threatening violence? “Nah, it won’t turn into anything ugly; they’re white,” seems to be the thought behind that poor planning. (There’s plenty of room to start a conspiracy theory myself, but I decline to reach down into that gutter.)
This poor planning led to the riot we all saw — the destruction in our capitol, the killing of five people, including a Capitol Police officer. On the news, I heard many politicians and pundits say, “This is not who we are.”
Hate to tell you but, yes, yes it is. This is precisely who we are.
Cisgender-heterosexual white people are not familiar with this face of America, but every queer person and person of color in this country knows it.
This is the face of America that riots every time any minority makes social progress. (Trump Jr. was attacking trans athletes before the riot as an example of why the mob needed to “take back the country.”) This is the face of America that bombs churches. This is the face of America that sends cops to raid our bars and teargas our peaceful protests. It attacks us on the street, vandalizes our homes, and tries to legislate us back in our place or out of existence. The only difference between what most of America saw in that footage for the first time and what racial, sexual, or gender minorities see all too often is that the hate and anger were directed toward the government and other white people for a change.
I wish I couldn’t write that sentence and be truthful. I wish that that sentence wouldn’t resonate with many people. But it is the truth, and a lot of people know it even if they don’t want to admit it.
There is a way out of this paradigm, though. I truly believe that education can help people understand each other. Education can help people see the difference between truth and conspiracy theory absurdities. Education can open minds and open hearts.
This is why I write, teach, and do public speaking gigs. I am trying to help some people understand how the world looks to others. It doesn’t always work. There will be hateful comments on this essay made by people who simply don’t want to understand how our culture affects minorities. They will try to put me in my place.
But there will be other people who will take this to heart, who will try to understand what being different in a society that craves conformity does to you — people who want to heal the divide in our country and our homes. It is for these people that I write.