The Natural Consequences of White Supremacy
January 6, 2021 is a day that will live in infamy. For the first time since 1814, an organized hostile entity infiltrated the U.S. Capitol Building. In 1814, it was the British coming to make America British again. This time, it was a group of Americans who claimed that they wanted to Make America Great Again. In reality, it was a group of American white supremacists attempting to interfere with the final step in our constitutionally mandated electoral process.
What we saw at the Capitol is a natural consequence of the white supremacy that has been loud and “proud” in American society for the past four years. When white supremacy doesn’t get what it believes will most speedily accomplish its ends, it becomes destructive. It becomes violent. It changes the narrative and tries to blame Black, Brown, and Indigenous people for its actions.
The insurrection at the Capitol was just one example of the natural consequences of white supremacy, however. We also saw what happens when Christianity is mixed with civil religion and the interests of the state. What you get is a form of “Christian” worship that is hardly recognizable as such. Not only were there people in D.C. waving various types of Christian flags and banners (I even saw a Christian flag on the shoulder of an insurrectionist in the Capitol), there were also people who went to D.C. to pray.
I watched videos of people who had gathered in D.C. to pray near various landmarks on the National Mall. They weren’t standing off to the side somewhere, praying against the tomfoolery that was the “Save America March.” They were the participants. When white supremacy mixes with Christianity, it justifies and excuses being in league with racists by baptizing it in Christianese and wrapping it in the Christian flag.
The “Save America March” and the mass gathering of MAGA protestors in D.C. was about disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Black voters because the outcome of the election wasn’t to their liking. When white supremacy mixes with Christianity, people’s prayers line up with the interests of the white supremacist state and not the values of Christ.
Another natural consequence of white supremacy is that people who are doing the work of white supremacy are handled with loving care by the authorities, even when they commit acts that would get non-white people killed.
The most insidious natural consequence of white supremacy, however, is a desire for normalcy.
America’s default is white supremacy. It was founded on white supremacy. Any and everything that people extol as being “great” about this country was elevated on the backs of racially marginalized people. There is little that we can celebrate about America that doesn’t also come with the baggage of a legacy of white supremacy. White supremacy is what is normal in this country, and so to get back to normal is to get back to white supremacy.
There are a lot of people out there who are condemning what happened at the Capitol. They are right to do so, but it is also low-hanging fruit. It’s easy to condemn the people breaking into government institutions and waving racist symbols. What I want to know is when America will finally going start listening to Black people. When will this country start listening to the people that it oppressed so it could become “great?” When are they going to see that Proud Boys are a symptom of the problem and not its entirety?
The natural consequence of white supremacy is for people to keep on keeping on like we don’t live in a whole entire racist society.
Since the beginning of the Trump presidency, but especially in the last several months, I have noticed a palpable “itch” within mainstream American society for things to get back to “normal.” Getting back to normal only serves those for which “normal” means that they get to have all of the power and none of the oppression.
Black people must reject the notion of “getting back to normal.” As weary as we are, we need to continue our collective fight. You might be thinking to yourself, “But I’m tired.” I’m tired, too. That’s why I say that we have a collective fight. Rugged individualism does not serve us; we must be in this fight together. We must lift up the weakest among us and hold one another up when we feel tired.
Not all of the natural consequences of white supremacy are bad. When white supremacy shows up and shows out, the bond of peace in the Black community grows. This is how we overcome. We shall overcome.