Crushing White Sedition and the Hope and Promise of Dr. King’s Dream
Through the heartbreak and grief at the loss of my sister, who died a week ago, I had to really push myself to say something on this day of remembrance. I know people are hurting today for different reasons. Some of us are experiencing personal grief and there is also communal and ancestral grief.
I pushed today because this feels like an exclamation point at the end of a four year conversation about racism and white supremacy. We saw these systemically dysfunctional dynamics play out in full scale, in real time, over the last election cycle.
When we think about American History, we know what the challenge has been. We know what the contradiction has been and we know the serpent wrapped around the legs of the table upon which the Constitution was signed and at which the Declaration of Independence was crafted — it was this belief that white people matter more than others. Since the inception of America, there has been this ideology of whiteness. When we think about every moment of crisis and most of the major moments of crisis in this country, the places in history where we have challenged the basic precepts of democracy, they have been in defense of this belief — that this country ought to remain a white nation, an old vane of Europe.
It was about an ideology. Yes, of course there were economic underpinnings, but those events were about an ideology that insisted that this nation had to be a white nation.
And now when I think of the 20th Century and Dr. King’s sacrifice and the sacrifices of everyday, ordinary folks for us to actually make good on the promises of radical Reconstruction — why was it undermined? In what ways did we roll those promises of radical Reconstruction back?
It had everything to do with this consensus behind us — that this country ought to remain a white nation — and everything about the recent moment is that we saw people sacking the Capitol in defense of a world that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sacrificed his life to destroy.
Those rioters are holding onto a world that Dr. King gave his life to dismantle and it is up to us and others to do the hard work of imagining America apart from this insidious view — this whiteness ideology that some people ought to be valued more because of the color of their skin.
We have to fully uproot this so we can step into the promise of American life.
Let’s look at some more facts.
Although there has been scant progress since the 1960’s, if those rioters who led the insurrection into the Capitol were Black or Brown, they would have been shot in the face and killed. If Black and Brown men and women had been organizing a protest to disrupt the election and bragged about that protest on December 6, 2020 — there would have never been a protest.
Right? They would have never been able to get permits (or rather permission) to lead an insurrection and vandalize the Capitol.
Perhaps now, there is not much disagreement about what the leadership has been over the last four years and what the Terrorist in-Chief stood for — a direct appeal to deny Black voters the right to vote, corruption, violence and physically assaulting folks who disagreed with him. He brought this Administration together to seek out violence and the Republican leaders who enabled the Terrorist-in-Chief the most Mitch “Bull” McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Kevin McCarthy, Ted Cruz were knowingly complicit, taking license to overthrow the democracy.
The genre here is tragedy, not mystery.
In order to reconcile with the violence and damage created by the insurrection we must start by telling the truth and addressing the Jim Crow tactics that were used.
- The men and women who took an oath to defend the Constitution were unfaithful to their office.
- They are faithless with regards to American democracy.
- They have poisoned faith and belief in the legitimacy of the system (which was already cracked).
- This is the very definition of a newer Jim Crow. It was not even the pretense of guessing how many jelly beans in a jar that allowed Blacks to vote. It was a federal action taken by the Congress led by the Republican leader in the name of retaining the loser of the Presidential election Donald Trump who incited violence upon the people of the United States as the Capitol of the United States fell to a seditious mob.
- We have to address the fascistic enterprise that is alive and well in America
- We have to address the autocratic movement supported by 42% of Americans.
- We have to dismantle the systemic forces that work against equal justice and equality. A struggle we are still in 53 years later.
Before we talk about reconciliation we must also talk about accountability and justice. We must talk about the punishment for the violence onto the government of the United States. The white sedition must be crushed. This undemocratic moment must be met head on.
Dr. King saw something from that mountain top that we have yet to see. He saw that justice and equality would be real for all humankind. He saw a nation where we would turn to each other and not on each other as we seem to be doing today. He saw a true United States of America and this is what we must work toward.
The past 10 days and the struggle toward progress revealed how much work we have to do. Our nation was summoned to call upon the mothering spirit within all of us. I am hopeful that we find the strength to love and see the interconnectedness within us. I am hopeful that this year we will choose relationality over individuality and live up to the ideals of Dr. King to create the beloved community.
To create this beloved relational community we have to know where we are going and we have to have faith — something we cannot quantify — but we can feel. We will get there and Dr. King promised we will get there. The killing of George Floyd brought the issues front and center and the hope I see is that one of the most racist, bigoted Presidents in my lifetime was situated between the first Black President and the first Black woman Vice-President. Trump is spoiled meat in the middle of two slices of what America could be. Both black and white folks have to keep fighting for what America could be.
In memory of my loving sister Jennifer Ann “Jan” Smith. August 8, 1964 — January 10, 2021. Rest now, knowing you are loved and you leave behind a beloved community of family and friends.