We been told y’all
I never wanted things to come to this. I take no pleasure in what I’m about to say, but I believe that I speak on behalf of millions of Black Americans when I say: We BEEN told y’all.
We told you that a day like the day that insurrectionists laid siege to the U.S. Capitol building would come. We didn’t know when. We didn’t know how. Our magic doesn’t go that deep– because it’s not magic at all–but we knew. We knew because we have spent a lifetime listening to our elders. We knew because we know the stories of our ancestors. We knew, because despite being called liars, deceivers, and “the real racists,” we committed ourselves to knowing and reciting the full history of race in America. We are well versed in and unafraid to tell the whole story, to proclaim the full counsel of whiteness: How whiteness doesn’t simply play by a different set of rules, it makes the rules.
T’Nahesi Coates tried to tell y’all when he declared that Donald Trump was the first White President. Nikole Hannah Jones tried to tell y’all when she told you that the beginning of this experiment called America was not 1776 but rather 1619. Colin Kapernick tried to warn y’all when he took a knee during the anthem. Colin was told to shut up and sit down as though this subservient posture of kneeling was the greatest possible offense to the anthem, the flag, law enforcement, the armed forces (as though no black bodies ever shed their blood in uniform for this country) and everything that America thinks that it represents. Black tried to tell y’all it was the “Re-Open” protestors temporarily taking over the state building in my native Michigan. Y’all didn’t hear us though.
The image that stands out the most from the first breach of the U.S. capitol building since 1814 was a clip of one of the insurgents, the ones who think of themselves as the “true Americans,” using a pole bearing the Stars and Stripes as a jousting spear to push through a wall of law enforcement. Apparently, “Blue Lives” didn’t matter at that particular moment. Black people are often found in contempt for not honoring and obeying democracy, but the “true Patriots” can use the flag as a tool to carry out treason.
There is so much that can be said about the insurrection, but none of it is new. Nothing can be said that hasn’t been said already. Black people told y’all Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous. We told y’all he would embolden white supremacists. We even told y’all that aligning your “evangelical” churches with a demagogue would hurt your witness, if not put the final nail in the coffin of Christendom. We have been so invested in telling y’all that we can recite many of your replies, your whataboutisms, and your “both sides” diatribes for you.
To see so-called “patriots” and “true Americans” literally break into the halls of our nation’s legislature was a reminder of what Malcolm X told y’all nearly sixty years ago: “The chickens have come home to roost.” The chickens of white supremacy, conspiracy theories, and myths have come home to roost in the form of insurgency in the U.S. Capitol building.
Now Black people are sitting back and waiting to see which of y’all will do right, and which of y’all will rally around what’s white.