The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Embarrassing. Shameful. Unfathomable.
These were words used to describe the unprecedented coup attempt by the United States government yesterday. One where supporters of President Trump rushed up the Capitol steps to disrupt the electoral vote count for an election that they have claimed was stolen from them. These baseless claims have been spoon-fed to them by none other than the president himself. However, I would argue that the attacks yesterday were anything but unprecedented; they were an ignored omen finally coming true.
BIPOC, the LGBTQ+ community, and other marginalized groups have been warning their communities about the danger of white supremacy for decades. Yet it seemed as the situation became more desperate, as the cries of the oppressed increased in volume, those in power continually disregarded and pushed these to the side. Not acknowledging the existence of something does nothing to make it go away, but it will always make you susceptible to the inevitable happening. The truth will always come back to bite.
Unfortunately, the truth is this: white supremacy has been utilized as a function of upholding the systems in America that have existed since its founding. It still benefits those it was designed to, while harming those who struggle outside its parameters. While it has always permeated throughout American culture (literally since the basis of its conception), its careful cultivation tangibly boiled over yesterday. Pictures of the Confederate flag being paraded in the Capitol building reached every sector of the Internet. A flag used to symbolize the hatred and divide that left a permanent stain on American history. A flag that means treason, a lost cause behind a lost war.
Even through all this, it is not lost on me the language used by political commentators or members of Congress concerning the events in question yesterday. Some referred to Trump as the worst president we have ever had. Others stated that this was the single worst day in American history. Both of these statements, as well as others like them, are false, and both of them reek of a privileged mindset.
You see, as mentioned before, BIPOC, the LGBTQ+ community, as well as others have spoken about the dangers of rhetoric learned and fueled on by these radical groups. They have tirelessly warned every single person in the country concerning what might happen when these kinds of people would be emboldened enough to act on their hatred. The question is: how were these communities so accurate in their predictions? How did they know that the outcome would be ugly at best and violent at worst?
They knew because this was not America’s darkest day or the worst president we have ever had. They knew because they have always received the short end of the stick. These issues have always affected them.
After all, how can you say that the storming of the capitol was the worst day in American history when we had centuries of slavery and an entire Civil War? How can you react with such shock and disgust when the United States has a documented history of anti-Semitism and poignant discrimination towards Asian communities? How can you say that this is the worst day in American history when we watched as the news rolled in of the Sandy Hook shooting?
In the same vein, how can you say that Trump is truly the worst president we have ever had? After all, many of them were slave owners. Andrew Jackson sat at the helm during the Trail of Tears, an orchestrated event that further decimated the Native American community. Few presidents can escape the horrible mark that they left on this country, if any at all.
What became glaringly obvious yesterday is that many of us are living in multiple versions of our America. For some, the image they always held for their country was shattered. For others, they watched the Capitol building, the reaction of law enforcement, and the treatment of the rioters and realized that they were only proven right.
I want to leave you all with this. If you were shocked by the events of yesterday, I would encourage you to analyze your own privilege in regard to the lens you view your country in. Listen to those around you and what they are saying. After all, their sources are centuries of generational trauma and learned experience.
The storming of the Capitol was not an unforeseen, isolated event. It was a culmination that finally burst into the light.