"The inconsistent treatment of protesters is fundamentally Black and white.
( @nytimes / Instagram )
It looks like 2021 is kicking off about as uneventfully as 2020 ended.
In spite of baseless declarations of a rigged election, we have mere weeks until a newly sworn-in president has a chance at unifying a bruised, battered and COVID-ridden nation. But, once the New Year's confetti settled, a more abstract disease returned full force.
White supremacy has eaten at Americans — specifically BIPOC Americans — since its inception and on Wednesday, it openly infected the Capitol itself. President Donald J. Trump, chock-full of claims of election fraud and disunification, was patient zero.
When racist rioters start to physically dismantle democracy’s prime real estate, what’s the first thing you do? Call it off?
If you’re Trump, not until the damage has already been done.
In true unifying fashion, the president waited hours before addressing the country for the first time. He reminded his supporters that the election was stolen. It wasn’t until after that he finally encouraged them to go home.
He would’ve droned on, had Twitter not suspended his account for 12 hours. Facebook did one better and pulled the plug on his profile indefinitely. When even Mark Zuckerberg brings your moral compass into question, you know you’ve got some self-reflecting to do.
But the damage was done. Even after the physical, deconstructive threat to the country’s premier legislative institution, the president continued to pit his citizens against each other when faced with the inevitable actuality that Biden would be confirmed.
The insurgents — the party of law and order, according to Trump — were only egged on by the president’s insistence on instilling an “us versus them” mentality, the seeds of which were planted long before he promised to march on the Capitol himself. The riots showcased a flawed thought process in full bloom.
As the Capitol crumbled, Trump’s successor spoke to the nation sooner than he. Biden framed the event as “an assault on the citadel of liberty.” He identified the group as perpetrators of lawlessness and an extreme minority, calling for “true” America to come together in wake of the violence.
No matter how flat they fall, Trump’s actions (or inactions) have consequences. And his response to his most recent clash with reality fell short. Lives were put in danger; Four were even lost.
We must understand that this extremist MAGA rhetoric was not built in a day. Its spirit was not dismantled when Washington’s curfew went into effect. Yes, our systems of government are meant to be challenged, but not in this way — not destructively, violently or in a manner that threatens our national and personal safety/security.
We are living in an age of hypocrisy, and it certainly does not help that our supposed leader perpetuates it.
But, in all honesty, it wouldn’t even matter if the BLM activists and white supremacists breaching the Capitol on Wednesday were using equal amounts of violence to get their own points across; One side is met with rubber bullets, tear gas and police in full riot gear.
The other gets to galavant around, take selfies with cops, parade podiums around like trophies, and lounge in office chairs with their feet on the desk. You tell us who is who.
The sense of entitlement seen in the latter speaks to the President’s empowerment of the most extreme reaches of his base. Their rabid progress raises questions as to whether the treatment of protesters is as gray an issue as the MAGA group’s defenders would lead onlookers to believe.
The inconsistent treatment of protesters is fundamentally Black and white.
And now as the MAGA supporters are empowered, Twitter is on fire. Are we surprised?
No. The same app that President Trump was nearly permanently banned from is free real estate for QAnon conspiracies and other nonsense to be spread in the name of fanatical patriotism and conservatism. It’s clear that Wednesday’s domestic terrorism has further provoked a schism in right-wing politics.
A new “Patriot Party” is on the rise, touting uber-Conservative, far-right principles and beliefs. These self-proclaimed “patriots” have begun rejecting the rest of the Republican party in favor of their own MAGA/white supremacist rhetoric.
When you strip back the nationalist rhetoric, you’ll find what rapper Killer Mike would call ‘I-didn’t-get-my-way-ism.’ While absurd, the movement isn’t to be taken lightly.
The riots will go down in history as a stark reminder that our democracy is as fragile as the egos of the white supremacists who have co-opted power. Those who idolize politicians need to check themselves before it is too late. Hell, even most legislators already have. Even Senator Kelly Loeffler, who objected to Georgia's election results, conceded after the Capitol chaos.
There’s falling with grace, and then there’s spitting in an entire country’s face. Trump and his supporters have harshly committed to the latter.
The violence from the MAGA-clad rioters seen Wednesday is not a disease that was diagnosed on Jan. 20, 2017, but one that has been festering since this nation's inception. It won't disappear into thin air as President-elect Biden takes office.
America cannot separate itself from white supremacy. But we as a people can, if we follow the work laid out before us by generations of black and brown communities. Not only that, but white people must reckon with the privilege and power they hold in society that allowed Wednesday’s events to occur in the first place.
We can’t simply crash through windows to get there. Dismantling white supremacy and racism is much greater than legislative changes, and the steps toward long-term reversal will be just that — long. But we can make our intent clear.
We can do is support BIPOC activists and communities who have actively worked against these malicious forces from the birth of this country. We can call out performative activism, participate in mutual aid, and have uncomfortable conversations with the people around us.
Please do not ignore this nation’s inequalities any longer. Take action against them. Use your voice to ensure that people inpower (especially our President-elect and his administration) make a calculated and concerted effort to ensure that this desecration of our democracy does not continue well into the future.
Websites to further educate yourself on how to stand against white supremacy:
How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
What’s It Like Being Black on a U.S. College Campus? Redefining Ambition Podcast
Donations/ Mutual Aid in the DC area:
Correction: Jan. 8, 2021
An earlier version of this article stated that it is necessary for America to clearly message that it "condemns white supremacy."
Upon further reflection by this article's authors, a correction has been made to emphasize that America's unerasable history of white supremacy. Appropriate edits have been made to convey that "America cannot separate itself from white supremacy. But we as a people can, if we follow the work laid out before us by generations of black and brown communities."
Likewise, the earlier version also stated that "White supremacy has eaten at the United States since its inception." A similiar edit has been made to specify that "White supremacy has eaten Americans — specifically BIPOC Americans — since its inception."
AJ Bafer is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. He spends his free time reading, jotting down loose thoughts and gushing about his affinity for fashion and cappuccinos. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @ajbafer on Instagram and Twitter.
Madison Rosenfield is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. When she's not going down internet rabbit holes at 2 AM, she can usually be found curating the perfect Spotify playlist, celebrating her Jewish heritage, crafting, watching coming-of-age films, or taking action in support of causes she cares about. You can find her at @madisonrosenfield on Instagram or @madisonleahh on Twitter to get a deeper look at her passions and perspectives.
Nabiha Nur is an Online Copy Editor at Rowdy Magazine who contributed to the writing of this article. She is a lover of storytelling, be it through written form or the big screen. When she's not blasting Bollywood music 24/7, making art, ignoring her unfinished screenplays, or learning new languages, she can be found on Instagram @nab1ha.