Yesterday, as the steps of the Capitol Building were being cleared, I witnessed a black D.C. police officer kindly escort an elderly white woman, clad in trump supporting gear, down the capitol steps. This image clashed violently with the sight of angry Q-Anon supporters chasing another black policeman up the steps of the building’s interior with intent on bodily harm. I wondered if this elderly woman was aware her presence was simply a smokescreen to justify the sedition planned by far-right insurgents intent on making real the Day of the Rope? (Day of the Rope references a fictional event – depicting the slaughter of all Non-Aryans). The image of a rope in the form of a noose has become the homegrown homage to the Neo-Nazi idea that educators, academic, lawmakers, liberals, and all elites should be hung for treason. Would this woman, who received such kindness, have stayed home if she had known she would be forever linked to the mission of neo-Nazis and white supremacists?
There was a wooden gallows erected on the far side of the reflecting pool in the U.S. Capital January 6, 2021. The expertly tied noose was supported by 10 x 10 uprights and a cross beam that suggested the construction of this gallows was not haphazard. It had been planned and implemented by more than one person. I’m guessing the elderly white woman having trouble negotiating her oxygen canister down the capitol building steps was not one of them. The sight of the gallows did not, as was expected, instill fear in me. Rather I was immediately engulfed in an ancient and historical sadness that has, over the years, kept me and other people of color from really engaging in the political apparatus of this democracy. Then, it was easy to feel defeated knowing that white Americans were, at their very core, racist. The notion that blacks alone were doomed to fight a losing battle with racism was underscored for me in the 90’s when I sat in a meeting of educators and administrators and made the statement that I’ve been driven to believe that if all blacks were too vanish from the country tomorrow there would not be one white person who would care enough to ask about our disappearance. Indeed, after the meeting, not one person among them, some whom I’d considered friends, cared enough to disabuse me of my notion of hopelessness.
I credit the group Black Lives Matter with restoration of my hope. Last summer, when I looked at the faces, young and old, people of color and whites gathering and marching in protest of racist police tactics – I was no longer hopeless. I am no longer hopeless when I witness the work of people like Stacey Abrams who’ve done the monumental task of real grassroots organizing and getting people out to vote in record numbers. No longer will I be afraid or delayed in speaking out against racial injustice.
So today, while that gallows was intended to create fear in me, I see through that hateful intent. That gallows was erected by those who fear BLM, Stacey Abrams, and all people of color who refuse to be marginalized and made so fearful that we don’t vote. The result of November’s elections, fair and free from fear, have flushed out the haters and driven them to Washington to take back a country that they’ve never lost – because they’ve never owned it. Fear is the tool of tyranny. Fear is the hammer this president has used to pound into the palms of those who’ve lost control of their ability to reason. Those are the Americans who would rush into the arms of any tin-pot messiah who promises safety from the imagined demons of his making.
Justice is here and we are no longer afraid.