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The Real America

James Warren January 07, 2021
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Listen, I absolutely knew today would happen. Listening to Trump over the past few years, months, weeks and days, especially after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the election, I knew this would happen.

As Trump lost nearly every court challenge, and even a few Republicans stood up to him in statehouses and courthouses to say, no, actually, this election has not been stolen, and it’s time to move on, I knew this would happen.

After Ted Cruz threw his support behind the traitorous obstructionist movement that took place in the Capitol today, and was proudly the first one to state his objections to certifying one of the most closely scrutinized, guarded, secured, protected elections in history, I knew this would happen.

After Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won Georgia’s senate seats, I knew this would happen.

So I went to bed last night slightly encouraged that the next four years might enable the country to move forward, but also worried and wary of what would come today.

Trump met my expectations.

He told these people to march on the Capitol.

He told them to show strength.

He told them not to back down.

Were these people easily manipulated? Sure, but they’re not just people who feel like they’ve been wronged and are merely expressing their displeasure. They assembled prepared to make this assault on the Capitol all the way. I saw confederate flags being paraded through the Capitol. I saw nazi salutes. I saw American flags with Trump’s likeness added to them. I saw Josh Hawley raise his fist in solidarity with the mob. Truly, this is a day that will live in infamy.

But check it out: like I said a few months ago, I’m not particularly interested in convincing those people, the same people who don’t believe that Black lives matter, that they are wrong.

I’m not interested in convincing people who think the election was stolen from them, that it wasn’t. They can wrap themselves in as many 1776 American flags and wear patriot hats as they want, proclaiming “don’t tread on me” all they want.

No one is treading on them. They are treading on us. On the U.S.

The people who used the lie that the election was stolen from them as their cause to storm the Capitol today cannot be convinced to stand down with logic and reason. They have bought into Trump’s lies, because those lies are exactly what they want to hear. They feel right to them. They wanted someone to speak into existence what they feel: that this country is being taken from them, that this election was stolen from them, and that they can restore their past way of life through rebellion.

Lies.

Damn lies.

Nothing I can say will change their minds, so I’m not going to waste my time, energy, breath or words on them.

What I am interested in is speaking to the rest of America, what I consider to be the Real America, who believe that better days for America are only achievable if we are willing to overcome our divisions rather than deepen them.

And within that, I want to speak to four different mindsets and lived experiences:

  • Black People, Brown People and Indigenous People – historically the most disadvantaged, de-privileged groups of people in this country
  • Allies and advocates who have supported Black People, Brown People, Indigenous People and other people of color, and other groups of people who have been persecuted, marginalized, disadvantaged…
  • Poor and working class white people who have suffered, especially economically, but don’t believe that taking over the Capitol is the way to solve your problems…
  • Wealthy white people in positions of power and privilege, who see these things happening and know that they are wrong, but are uncomfortable “getting involved,” or “speaking out” because you don’t want to rock your boat…

Here’s what I want to say.

Black People.

I know you see this and you are outraged at the hypocrisy, the incomprehensible disparity in the way white lives were treated today by law enforcement in the Capitol during one of the most heinous acts in our country in recent memory, and the way Black lives are treated every day for the most mundane of actions, the uppitiness of Black existence – never mind how Black lives are treated when we protest the most egregious, violent, lawless treatment of Black people in this country at the hands of law enforcement. I know that is hard to watch, because hypocrisy is one of those things that trigger intense emotions, the utter unfairness and immorality of it all. I get it.

Stay strong. Stay focused on what we have always been focused on, what our Brothers and Sisters in Georgia just showed us for the umpteenth time, that when we put our efforts towards courageous leadership and inspiration in this country, we can change it.

Brown People, Indigenous People and other people of color.

I know it can be hard to believe that this country cares about you, when you see so many people who don’t look like you descending en masse on our Capitol to protest the end of a presidency that has done so little to protect you and so much to disenfranchise you, and to obstruct the transition to a presidency and administration that has a clear mandate to fight for you. I know it’s hard. Just remember. You are America. You have always been America, and you always will be. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Allies and advocates.

Thank you for your continued support of Black and Brown People, Indigenous People, and every group who has been disadvantaged, marginalized and de-privileged. We appreciate you and urge you to redouble your efforts. You have stood with us in the fight for freedom, justice and equality and now you must stand ever stronger. Square your shoulders. Step in front. Continue to root out hatred, bigotry, injustice and inequality wherever and whenever you see it.

Poor and working-class white people who have suffered economically.

I know you have suffered as opportunities to make a living for your family have been harder and harder to come by. I know you long for the days when life was simpler and perhaps easier for you and your loved ones. I know that you know that the real cause of the lack of opportunity is not the fact that there are more people of color in this country. It’s because as a country, we have failed to ensure that the people who work hard to ensure the nation’s prosperity be able to partake in it more equitably. I empathize with you, and I urge you to remember that America has always been strongest when we take care of one another, work together and live out the promise that all people are created equal, and all of us are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – not at the expense of one another, but together. Don’t let evil forces divide us.

White people with power and privilege who want to do the right thing.

What I really, really, really need you to know is that you can make a difference. I get it. It will be hard for you. But I implore you to look into your hearts. This is not about comparing grievances. This is not about “what abouts.” This is about you using your power and your privilege to make a difference. For four centuries, white people with power and privilege have shaped the future of this country. Now it’s time for you to share your power and apply your privilege to do the right thing for this country. Condemn white nationalism. Condemn anti-democratic forces. Condemn the lies of a stolen election. When you speak, people listen. When you decide to act, stuff gets done. Be a light in the darkness. Start with your family and neighbors. I don’t care if you don’t do it on social. Just do it. Don’t be passive. Help this country heal.

Lastly, to all you, who share my desire to be part of a truly United States of America, to see that dream of equality and unity finally – finally – come true, I say this to you:

Today is NOT the end of our democracy.

Today is NOT the end of the American way of life.

Today is NOT the beginning of a revolution fueled by hatred, treason and rebellion.

Today IS the day that we see more clearly what we have to do, to become the America we want to be.

Today IS the day we realize that democracy is not a given, it’s not on autopilot, and it requires stewardship.

And today IS the day we can make it a priority to show in words and actions that our love for America must be based in liberty, justice and equality for all.

Fight injustice. Love one another. That’s how we get through this.

 

Photo credit: Trevor Adams on Pexels

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