‘This is Treason, Sedition, Insurrection!’ Trump’s racist words on the BLM protests come back to haunt him

Protestors with the White House in the background

Miki Jourdan / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Nicole Duncan-Smith

Black people in America are acutely aware that their citizenship (and all that that means) is fragile.

Disguised mostly by smiles and hard work, they wake up every day to make an uncomfortable intellectual compromise on how to navigate in a nation that pretends to be welcoming. It is a survival strategy that we teach our young. The training goes back to the apron strings of enslaved-African mothers who instructed their children in hush tones on how to deal with the Missus and Massa.

The siege of the Capitol building on January 6, was a petrifying reminder that systemically and socially the spirit of white supremacy continues to be threaded in every part of the nation.

We saw that in the domestic terrorism streamed live on TV and social media for all the world to see.

The treasonous act of rushing into the building, perpetrated by Pro-Trump anarchists, showed that Americans are not all created equal. It communicated that despite whatever The Cosby Show taught us about mobility or whatever the Barack Obama presidency symbolized, half of this country believes the contrary.

The scary thing is that a sizable amount of that population is willing to be arrested or die to relay that truth.

The siege was terrifying. It was traumatizing. Watching it invoked some of the cultural outrage that prompted the civil unrest of 2020, the same civil unrest that the president, Donald J. Trump, condemned last spring and summer—but has also in the quiet spaces of Black vulnerability triggered the demons of post-traumatic slave disorder.

Last year, as a community of oppressed people, we (with a huge multicultural coalition of allies) finally erupted against racially charged police-violence against people of color.

Instead of the president considering the legitimacy of the national outcry, he took to Twitter to move with a hard hand on the “anarchists, agitators or protestors” who vandalized or damaged various federal courthouses and buildings throughout the nation.

Less than half a year later, after this actual insurrection at the Capitol (one planned on the dark web for months now with the intention of taking over the government), the country’s chief executive did a video declaring his love for those individuals involved — even calling them special. The contrast was stark.

On one hand, 2020’s civil unrest was prompted by numerous occasions of police-involved killings and incidents of violence captured on social media. On the other, 2021’s insurrection was prompted by the Big Lie that the presidential election was rigged and the current government was unwilling or unable to do its job.

On one hand, 2020’s civil unrest was an explosion that exposed the world (with proof) to the systemic bigotry of American law enforcement. On the other hand, 2021’s insurrection was an explosion of race-based fear that linked back to the Reconstruction era where whites felt like their rights were being siphoned by the suggestion that they share basic liberties with people they deem beneath them.

On one hand, 2020’s civil unrest was organic and sprouted through a prophetic agency of necessary change. On the other hand, 2021’s insurrection was organized by racist hate groups who falsely use Christianity to justify their misguided understanding of exceptionalism and believe a nation that they stole from Indigenous people, was actually being stolen from them.

Nevermore has Ida B. Well-Barnett’s words, from her book Mob Rule in New Orleans, rung more clear.

One has to ask, “Why speak out when your voice will be squelched? Why seek equality when you are constantly reminded that no such thing exists?”

Again, the contrast was and is stark … and the feeling of terror still abounds.

Memes did not make things better.

In closing, it was refreshing to see GOP head honchos like Lindsey Graham, Mike Pence, and Dick Cheney denounce the violence of that awful day. It was a relief to see that elected officials were safe and it seems that the electoral college’s votes will be honored.

But at the same time, there are questions about the value of Black bodies and mental wellness that are too exhaustive and abusive to even ask. The constant memes are unwanted souvenirs of inequality that either induce anger or socialize inferiority.

Screenshot / Instagram

The specifics surrounding the lapse in the Capitol’s security are not the issue. We must instead remember how peaceful protestors were viciously moved by the National Guard blocks away so that the president could have a photo opt with an upside-down bible in front of a church he had never visited.

No one really cares about when the National Guard was called in, we just remember that Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old white man, was pushed down by law enforcement for participating in a demonstration to bring awareness to the death of George Floyd.

There’ll be much written about the insurrection over the next few days, and questions of whether the 25th Amendment is actually used to reprimand 45.

But what matters right now is that we must care about the sacred memory of that Alexander Hamilton and Crispus Attucks, Harriet Tubman and Thomas Garrett, John Lewis and Joan Trumpauer Mulholland — who came together to work for freedom for all, sacrificing their lives so that even those fools who tried to take over the government in a quasi-revolution could have the right to liberty.

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