My Feelings About Our Country After the United States Capitol Building Attack
The day after the United States Capitol attack, I wrote this article as a way to sort through all of the thoughts and feelings that I had in my head. I thought I would share it on the blog because I think the feelings following that attack are important to highlight. I hope you enjoy!
When I woke up on Jan. 6th, 2021, less than a week into the new year, I came downstairs to my mom with tears in her eyes as she watched a militia of trump supporters storm and break into the Capitol building in an attempt to put a stop to the congressional certification of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. My mom grew up in D.C. and even worked in the Capitol building for a time. Her mother, my grandmother, also lives 10 minutes away from the Capitol and had been on Capitol hill at the post office that day. Knowing that my grandmother was so close to all of the violent insurrectionists(most of whom are racist white supremacists) and seeing her home town descend into chaos, was a lot for her to handle emotionally. In addition, seeing a building that is supposed to represent the democracy, fairness, equality, and peaceful political debates,that America promotes as its core values, be defaced by people who call themselves patriots is not only heartbreaking but creates a sense of hopelessness in times that are already filled with so much despair.
Because my mom is from D.C., I go to visit my grandmother and family members often and have been there so many times that I treat it as my second home. I have spent so much time visiting every museum, historical site, and landmark, including the Capitol building, so I too felt extremely saddened as I watched this event unfold for hours. In the end, the rioters were pushed back and despite the long delay, the members of Congress were able to confirm Joe Biden as the victor of the 2020 election. This was the only good thing to come from that day. Confirming Biden’s victory, for many young people, represented the idea of a brighter future that was lost in the four years that Donald Trump was America’s President. He created an America where many of us felt that a dark cloud had fallen over the country because it was as if racists and homophobes were gearing up to take the progress this country has made a step back. Though Biden’s victory is a win for democracy, our government and our country are far from perfect and January 6th proved that even more. As a young person living in this country, the events that occurred at the Capitol Building that evening created a sense of hopelessness for the future.
I am 19 years old and a freshman in college. My life is just getting started and I am beginning to look forward to my future career, my future family, and a better future where love and acceptance can prevail. How can I have hope for a better future when democracy is being threatened, violence is running rampant, and people who are much older, more experienced, and supposed to be more knowledgeable than me are treating the operation of this country as a game and something to be won as opposed to thinking about how they can make every citizen feel safe and equal? The violence that I witnessed that evening not only made me sad, but fearful. I hope to raise a family at some point in my future, but I don’t want to raise children in a place where grown men are sore losers and where violence is tolerated when you don’t get what you want. This does nothing but create chaos and an unsafe environment.
As a young black person, seeing this means even more. In June, as Black Lives Matter protesters peacefully protested against police brutality and the end of systemic racism, they were met with rubber bullets, tear gas and the National Guard. So many arrests were made and so many people were injured. The looting that occurred wasn’t from the protesters, but from ANTIFA, white supremacists, and others who aimed to take advantage of the movement for personal gain. The violence that occurred was brought on by police and military force who would not allow the protesters' voices to be heard. All of this violence was in response to peaceful protesters who were fighting against true injustice and the wrongful murders of black Americans. They came together as a united front in the streets of their hometowns and cities. Yet, when insurrectionists break into one of the most important governmental buildings and stop the certification of the next president, all while making threats towards congressmen and breaking into government offices, most of them are let free and get to walk out of the building unscathed. What they did was not a protest or a riot, it was treason. They betrayed the systems that they boast so highly about and contradicted everything that this country claims to be which is everything that they usually praise.
The comparison between the BLM protests and the Trump insurrectionists proves the deep systemic racism in this country because the only reason Trump supporters were pushed back as opposed to being shot or injured is because they were white. Their whiteness gives them privilege and in this country, black and brown skin is associated with being lesser than and more violent.
If it had been people of color or the BLM protesters storming the Capitol that day, there would have been a massacre and instead of seeing people be slowly guided out, there would have been bodies and blood on the steps of the Capitol. This is a violent and unsettling event to picture, but it is true and it is time that we face the facts. As a black woman, why would I want to bring children into a world where they come out of the womb already at a disadvantage? In order for black youth, to regain hope for the future, this needs to be addressed. When I say addressed, I don’t mean a social media campaign or posts on Instagram stories. I mean on a national and systematic level. The problem lies with what we teach, the messages we send out, and it really comes down to the system. Our government is rooted in racism and until the day that it is finally addressed and changed, I will always walk the streets of this country in fear.