by Vanesa Zuleta Goldberg
Yesterday we witnessed a domestic terrorist attack on our nation's capital. A mob of Trump supporters attacked the nation’s Capitol with relatively little pushback from the DC police or the National Guard. What we witnessed on the afternoon of January 6th, 2021, will forever leave a mark on this nation and serve as a reminder that the evils of racism and white supremacy allowed for such a terrorist insurrection to occur.
Many are astonished at the realities of January 6th, but this is not a surprise to many of us BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) who have been communicating for months — if not years — now that if we did not face the evil realities of the foundation of our nation, terrorist attacks like this would only be the beginning of a reckoning to unfold throughout the United States of America. What the nation and the entire world witnessed yesterday was white supremacy in all its glory: it ran rampant through the Chambers of our nation’s Capitol, it hung nooses outside of government buildings, it used religion as a disguise for its ability to run riot through the streets of DC with less than 100 reported arrests as of today. Men and women with MAGA gear, Trump flags, Nazi regalia, the pro-slavery Confederate Battle Flag, and rage on their faces broke the windows of government buildings, stole pieces of federal property from these buildings, and put government workers' lives in harm's way. President Trump instigated these actions through months of public interaction blatantly in denial of the election results; finally, at the rally yesterday he told the crowds: “After this, we’re going to walk down — and I’ll be there with you — we’re going to walk down, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.” After the insurrectionists broke into the Capitol in an attempt to halt election proceedings (and maybe abduct or kill members of Congress or the media, according to sources present), Trump said on video: “Go home, we love you, you’re very special.”
The police brutality that Black Lives Matter protestors suffered this past spring is still fresh within my mind. The tear gas, rubber bullets, the beatings, the countless arrests of peaceful activists, the brutal pepper-spray attack on the violin players who played in honor of Elijah McClain; all these memories are still fresh within the minds of BIPOCs in America. We know the terror of police brutality and we also know what it looks like for militarized police to establish any form of “law and order.” The reality of yesterday's actions cannot even be reasonably compared to the racial justice protests of last spring. The harsh reality of yesterday’s events is that they were not a protest for justice, for equality, for the liberation of bodies that have been oppressed for hundreds of years. No, it was a declaration of terrorism simply because their presidential candidate was — legitimately — not elected to be the next President of the United States of America. This does not compare to the marches, which were reported and proven to be peaceful in majority, that we witnessed for the Black Lives Matter Movement. What we saw yesterday was a direct attack on the American democratic republic on American soil by Americans themselves. Yet, the very system that we have been told would prevent and protect against violent insurrection like this opened the gates for them to stampede into the nation’s capital. That is the brutal reality of yesterday's actions: there are two radically different systems of justice within this nation, and whether you will face leniency or violence from it is solely based on the color of your skin. We aren’t asking for an increase in police brutality — no. What we are asking for is a long, hard reckoning of the double-standards, bias, racism, and white supremacy in this nation, particularly when it comes to law enforcement. We want equitable consequences for breaking just laws, and that prosecution to be applied consistently across race. Anything less is a violation of our shared human dignity.
Many of us BIPOC have woken up today to messages that attempt to remind us to be hopeful, but the nature of these messages themselves are still tied to a mentality rooted in white privilege. As a Brown Latina I look at the events that occurred yesterday and I am not hopeful. I am not looking forward to the future. I am angry, scared, feeling completely unsafe in the very country I was born in. I am living and breathing in a country where I am more likely to face police brutality (for merely existing as a brown woman) than the white terrorists who committed acts of treason on our nation’s Capitol yesterday. If Black and Brown people had stormed the Capitol yesterday and attempted a coup as these white terrorists did, we would have seen the deaths of many under the guise of “national security.” That is America. That was the narrative of America yesterday, today, and if we do not create space for serious reckoning with our white supremacist history and racial reconciliation it will be our future tomorrow. The reality is that America was not better before this event; we have always been this way, and because of this systemic injustice, we create spaces where domestic terrorist attacks by white people at this scale can occur and Americans have the audacity to act shocked. America has created the facade that we are great, but yesterday we proved to the entire world how far we are from such greatness for all Americans.