On Wednesday we watched in rage, disbelief and pain as America’s frayed democracy sustained a further blow from those who sought to subvert the results of the November 3rd election.
There is much to unpack from the extraordinary scenes we witnessed, including the impact of baseless claims of election fraud that have spawned rampant conspiracy theories and now an attempted insurrection, the apparent lack of preparedness exhibited by Capitol Police, and the ease with which the fringe group was able to breach the symbolic “heart” of America.
Perhaps most acutely, many of us have seen in this insurrection a jarring manifestation of White Supremacy Culture; for example, the perception of privilege felt by the largely White insurrectionists, the kid glove response by the Capitol Police, the dramatic difference between the treatment of BLM protesters this past summer and the handling of those who assaulted the Capitol. We agree with President Elect Biden’s assessment that if those who were storming the Capitol building were Black or Brown, the police response would have been radically different.
To quote Suffolk County District Attorney Rachel Rollins, “Black and taking a knee = unAmerican; White and taking the Capitol = patriotism; Black and protesting for your life = rioter; White and denying the election results = free speech.”
In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
The Network will continue our work to deepen our understanding of racial injustice and to confront and dismantle racism – in ourselves, our relationships and our communities. We will do this next week through our annual MLK Week of Service, and through ongoing antiracism programming. We are dedicated to this journey and we look forward to having you join us.