The following represents the views of the undersigned members of the Community Editorial Board.
The White insurrectionists who rioted at the nation’s capitol on January 6th were Americans.
The wildly unprepared Capitol Police, at least one of whom was available to stand back, stand by, and take selfies with protesters during the rioting were also Americans.
The individuals who died, including the Capitol Police officer, and over 50 others who were injured were Americans.
The president of the United States of America incited said violence. And yet, the resounding mainstream media and politicians’ refrain was, “This isn’t America.”
Americans across the nation: It’s time we face who we are. We are residents of a country founded on violence and white supremacy. Our past is our present.
White settlers murdered this nation’s indigenious people to “discover” the land of the free and the brave. White property owners stole, sold, enslaved, maimed, raped and killed Africans who literally built the White House and the United States Capitol. Worldwide protests erupted just this past summer when White American police murdered unarmed African Americans George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
And we’ve glossed hundreds of years of global atrocities initiated by the United States of America to protect freedom and democracy. The ideals that make us great are dripping with blood.
Trump’s hubris and hostility embodies the despotic gangster that American pop culture reveres so much. Sixty-three million Americans elected him president in 2016. Their reasons range from believing he was the best candidate to sharing the aspirational desire to be untouchable, Obama backlash, anti-Hillary/anti-woman sentiment, and the belief that Trump would indeed make America great again.
America is not greater, but its divisions are clearer. If the insurrectionists had been Black or Latinx, there would have been few arrests because they would have been dead. Black Americans are daily murdered and imprisoned by the police for so much less.
Let us be clear: This country will remain divided. And historically, divided Americans resort to violence. At the height of Reconstruction, White mobs swarmed state houses in the South attempting to overturn fair and free elections.
What happened at the Capitol was shocking and disheartening, but it was neither new nor unpredictable. The stoking of anger, fear, and hatred as well as the emboldening and normalizing of White supremacist views were in play long before Trump.
Last week’s events exist on a continuum. We are neither at the beginning nor at the end of our conflicts. The Capitol riots were not an anomaly. Our hunch is neither will be whatever comes next.
The beginning of January 2021 demands a reckoning. Who are we? We cannot arrive at our ideal selves until we face our actual selves. Our reflection must ripple through a violent past of double standards and injustice before we can even arrive at the present or imagine a future.
Individually, White Americans must reckon with their White privilege. Americans of color must reckon with their proximity to said privilege. We are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. Collectively, as a city, we must also ask who we are.
The data shows Long Beach is also divided. We are a tale of two cities with deep disparities for COVID-19 deaths, food insecurity, houselessness, unemployment, compromised longevity, etc. If these disparities represent who we want to be, so be it. But let us not further disrespect those who have suffered the most injustice by lying about who we are. If this is not who we want to be, then all levels of city government as well as the community must work together to ensure equity in our city.
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