Each bit of news I hear knocks me further off of my axis.
In my own village of Oak Park, a local resident has filed objections against the candidacies of the only two Black men who are running for Village Trustee, and the hearing on those objections is today. This local resident, of course, says that his objections have nothing to do with race. This morning, a brick was thrown at a local coffee shop that doubles as the candidates’ campaign office, and wrapped around the brick was a paper with the message, “no niggers on the ballot!”
Warnock has won his Senate race in Georgia and Ossoff looks likely to do the same, handing Senate control to the Democrats. Congress is conducting its ritual of certifying the presidential election, while many Republican lawmakers attempt to overturn the results of that lawful and fair election. Trump stoked the rage of his supporters with a speech in front of the White House, pushing Vice President Mike Pence to block electoral votes unfavorable to Trump, which Pence doesn’t have power to do. Then Trump began urging his supporters to march to the Capitol, where thousands of them began protesting and hundreds broke into the Capitol building, forcing Senators and Representatives to go on lockdown. As I write this, protesters have broken into the Senate chamber.
We have endured the past four years of Trump, one year of a pandemic, months of BLM protests and electoral processes. As a white man, that feels like my starting point. But I should say, this nation has endured nearly 250 years, and 150 years before its inception, of white supremacy. Maybe “endured” is not the right word, because white supremacy has made this nation what it is.
White supremacy created the conditions in which we live. And in those conditions, we are trying to strike Black men from the ballot and hurling bricks inscribed with racist messages here in Oak Park. We are protesting the lawful election of Democrats to the government because the Democratic Party offers slightly more protections to Black people in specific and people of color in general than the Republican Party. Our protests have metastasized into a coup attempt involving an invasion of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
Too many of us white people are willing to say that if democracy is not just for white people — if Black people and other people of color have to be fully included — then we do not want it.
I will not stand for it. This racist mindset is leading us to white supremacist anarchy. I will do what I must to stand for racial justice, antiracist action, and full democracy. And we cannot let anyone — Republicans, reluctant Democrats, our own fears — stand in our way. I will spend the rest of my life trying to live out those aspirations. And sometimes I’ll get knocked off my axis and onto the ground. But you better believe that I will get back up, arms locked with my family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues — Black, white, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, Middle Eastern and all — to push through.
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