Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

We Need to Talk About Violence in the White Community (Seriously, We Do)

Perhaps the most revealing takeaway from the House insurrection panel's first day of testimony was the level of astonishment regarding the violence on Jan. 6.

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Image for article titled We Need to Talk About Violence in the White Community (Seriously, We Do)
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

During Tuesday’s House select committee examining the Capitol coup attempt, there were tears. There was justifiable outrage over Republicans’ unwillingness to admit how close the throng of domestic terrorists came to overthrowing the government of the United States. There was shock, sadness and public shame.

Viewers were moved by the testimony from police officers Harry Dunn, Michael Fanone, Aquilino Gonell and Daniel Hodges. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) wept openly about the pain and trauma inflicted on the officers. And all the while, the panel avoided the simplest explanation as to how a political rally transformed into an out-of-control lynch mob. They hopscotched over the reason the FBI dropped the ball, why the Pentagon overlooked the danger and why the Department of Homeland Security, the House sergeant-at-arms, the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms, the Capitol Police’s chain of command, and every single individual or institution ignored historical evidence, contemporaneous facts and multiple warnings about the prospect for violence on Jan. 6.

It is easier to hear the word “nigger” on the floor of Congress and watch grown men cry than to acknowledge the unavoidable truth gained in Tuesday’s hearings: They couldn’t believe white people would do it.

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Perhaps it’s time we talk about it.

It’s OK to Say ‘White People’

I have never killed anyone. Ninety-nine percent of Black people have never taken another person’s life. However, people with unwashed legs often claim that I am part of the 13 percent of the population who commits 50 percent of the murders.

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Because most of the people making this claim don’t quite know how numbers work, I rarely respond to people whose lips move when they read. But if they believe that racist blanket statement to be true, then they must also admit that they need to address the white community’s elephant in the room.

According to the Chicago Project on Security and Threats’ analysis, 93 percent of the 532 people arrested by federal authorities for the Jan. 6 attack are non-Hispanic whites. Fifty-two percent live in counties that are more than 70 percent white. The vast majority (87 percent) had “no connection to existing far right militias or groups.” Eighty-six percent were employed, and 19 percent owned businesses. Two out of every three arrestees were over 34 years old.

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They did not storm the Capitol because of economic anxiety. They were not young and impressionable. They were not the subjects of “groupthink mentality.” They were just white people who lived around other white people in white communities. That’s all. We need to talk about this.

First, I must confess two things:

1. I have no idea what white people talk about when Black people are not around. I assume they trade cooking tips on how to remove the seasoning from chicken recipes. Maybe they argue over which Beatle was more mediocre (Ringo) or discuss their favorite brand of boat shoes (Sperry). I don’t know.

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2. White people don’t know what Black people talk about when they are not around. But unlike me, they think they do. One of the reasons Black people get pissed off when white people deflect any discussion by bringing up Black-on-Black crime is that it is one of the most talked-about subjects in Black America. Contrary to white popular belief, Black people talk about violence in the Black community all the time.

While we know that crime is a socioeconomic phenomenon, there isn’t a Black church, barbecue, barbershop or baby shower where the topic doesn’t come up. The “Stop the Violence” movement was a thing three decades before “Black Lives Matter.” If you check your local event calendar, I guarantee there have been more Stop the Violence events than Black Lives Matter rallies in the past year. But the community initiatives from countless sororities, fraternities, charity fundraisers and church events aren’t particularly newsworthy. And, because white people typically avoid Black spaces where there’s no one rapping, dancing or running, they apparently have no idea that Black people don’t support or condone murder.

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The innate thuggery that lies in every Black person’s DNA seems to be the only social issue that people think we can cure by talking about it. Any mention of racism is immediately followed by an accusation of “playing the race card.” Simply saying the words “white people” conjures up complaints of being “divisive.” Pundits can discuss the habits and issues of “Black voters” but any mention of “white voters” and white issues becomes “identity politics.”

We should also acknowledge that the definition of violence is subjective. In many states, selling marijuana and other illegal drugs is a violent crime but selling or illegally prescribing prescription medication is not. Resisting arrest is a violent crime even if the person arrested turns out to be innocent. Punching or tasing a person who is not resisting is fineShooting one person is violence. Taking away healthcare from a million is not. Kidnapping one person is violence. Incarcerating 450,000 people for nonviolent drug offenses is okay. Black communities are violent because they lack education. Creating an unequal education system is not violent.

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Many observers have noted what would have happened if Black people had gathered in large numbers at the U.S. Capitol Building. But there is no need to speculate. We know that police arrested five times more protesters during the Washington, D.C., Black Lives Matter demonstrations than they did at the Charge of the White Brigade. We watched officers use tear gas to disperse police brutality protesters so Donald Trump could pose in front of a church like He-Man summoning the power of Grayskull. We heard him tell police officers to thwart gang violence and illegal immigration by injuring the perpetrators.

Unlike the handling of Black protesters, almost every single person who testified before Congress on the issue said they erred on the side of caution to protect the insurrectionists’ First Amendment rights. In an October 2020 threat assessment, the DHS noted that “violent extremist media almost certainly will spread violent extremist ideologies, especially via social media, that encourage violence and influence action within the United States” but they did nothing. According to a Senate report, the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office had disseminated a social media post that literally said:

“Be Ready to Fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent . . . stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war . . . .”

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So why didn’t DHS produce an intelligence report for Jan. 6 even though they had credible threats of violence? Why did the assistant director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Steven D’Antuono, insist “there was no indication of anything other than First Amendment activity?” Why didn’t anyone do anything?

There is no logical explanation except one. So let’s talk about it.

A Brief History of White Violence

If you live in one of 22 states, it may be illegal to read this article in school because it could possibly be categorized as Critical Race Theory, anti-white indoctrination or one of the myriad parts of white history outlawed by free speech advocates.

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Those subjects include the transatlantic slave trade, legal murder of enslaved people, the Founding Fathers who were rapists, child molesters and hypocrites, the Confederacy, Reconstruction, mass lynchings, racial terrorism, Jim Crow, the Red Summer of 1919, the Ku Klux Klan, White Leagues, race massacres, the Nativist Movement, the Know-Nothings, the Lily White Republicans, segregation, integration, redlining, the New Deal, racist presidents, Klansmen who served in Congress, Klansmen who served in the Senate, Klansmen who served on the Supreme Court, COINTELPRO, white supremacists in the armed forces, white supremacists on police forces and white supremacy.

Even though history is replete with examples of white mob violence, even when there is credible evidence that white people are preparing to do what white people have historically done, even though the people who can stop it have concrete proof that could save lives, no one will say what needs to be said.

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And, if we contrast that with the immense number of people who insist that Black people could solve police brutality, criminal justice disparities, unequal schools and the wealth gap by simply talking to each other about violence, crime, education and hard work, we must ask ourselves why one group is immune to criticism while the other can only cure their social ills by condemning their “culture of violence” loud enough to reach white ears.

Surely there is a logical explanation for this double standard. I’m sure there’s some kind of justification for why the long history of violence from the white community is repeatedly ignored while Black people are thought to be products of their environment. Perhaps there is a rationale for why this article will surely be considered divisive and “race-baiting” while addressing Black-on-Black crime is so “necessary.”

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I would really like to understand why states have passed laws essentially outlawing Black Lives Matter protests even though 93 percent have been peaceful. I’d like to talk about why federal agencies use undercover agents, recording equipment, drones, social media and proprietary software to monitor Black anti-racist groups but are so proactively keen on protecting the First Amendment rights of violent right-wing whites. I’d wanna know why the FBI didn’t believe white people were going to storm the Capitol even though they said they were going to storm the Capitol only months after white people stormed a capital.

Anyway...there’s this phrase called “white supremacy.”

But no one wants to talk about that.

.