Anytime I remember or see images of the Jan. 6th Capitol riot, I recognize that I have felt these feelings before. Because being Black in America is a constant loop of traumatic deja vu. The violence, the chants, the outright entitlement. Words spoken at the end of the rally by former President Trump were things that I’ve heard after social progress is made.
We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said. “So we are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue – I love Pennsylvania Avenue – and we are going to the Capitol.”.
God forbid anybody of color has an opportunity to bask in hope. The Capitol Riots wasn’t just one event. It’s America’s dirty laundry that’s likely never getting washed.
Jan. 6th was the August 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Va, where white supremacists in sweater vests, khakis, boat shoes, carrying lit Home Depot tiki torches, paraded around a Thomas Jefferson statue shouting, “you will not replace us.” Former President Trump declared that there were “mighty fine people on both sides” as a young woman named Heather Heyer was killed being run over in a car in a counter-protest.
Cover stories were devoted to people with these crazy conspiracy theories and providing racism a “both sides” platform. Then, the news networks covered every single rally like it was the NFL draft and hired pundits for the sake of ratings. The chaos of the Muslim Ban left people stranded at airports and detained for hours.
January 6 is no different than Trump’s speech branding a group of people as helpless and giving an excuse for everybody else to view them in that light:
“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed – what the hell do you have to lose?”
Lastly, it was every Facebook and Twitter post dripping with misinformation that was allowed to fly for engagement’s sake. There are many more examples I could provide, but my point is the violence at the Capitol building didn’t happen in a vacuum–it was always in motion. Jan. 6th was happening in pockets on a sequence for years. You can even go as far back as turning hoses and police dogs on Black women in the 1960s or the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. Jan. 6th is a generational cancer. We all just had to be sitting at home to see it.
Just like the 11-minute video of George Floyd being murdered, America couldn’t run from this. The people who committed the insurrection weren’t used to losing. They had four years of an administration who constantly obliged that they were “the underdog,” and it was time to “Make America Great Again,” fueling a long-simmering fever of white supremacy.
Even before the election happened, there was the conditioning: “mail-in ballots are bad. The only fair result is if I win.” One thing about those who live by prejudice is that there is never enough. Just when there was a hint that someone else who didn’t look like them was going to get a chance, out came the biking helmets, zip-ties, and face paint.
But then the 2020 election happened. Then, the Georgia special election with two vacant Senate seats. Look at the backlash when Black people and minorities start to have ample access to vote.
Even now, Jan. 6th is still happening. There’s currently an attack on what is being taught to children in schools under the guise of an anti-Critical Race Theory movement. As noted by The Washington Post, 163 Republicans, who believe the 2020 Election was stolen, are running for state positions. If they win, that would give them authority over any future election outcomes; 147 current Republican lawmakers still won’t acknowledge Joe Biden as president.
We’ll continue to mark the anniversary of Jan. 6 for every year to come, but Black people saw this coming long ago.