About the Siege of the US Capitol

January 7, 2021 | 5:48 pm
Tyler Merbler/Flickr
Adrienne Hollis
Former Contributor

I want to make sure that everyone realizes that what passed for Democracy before the January 6, 2021 events was already under fire. Because systemic, toxic racism runs through our nation like blood in the body. But yesterday was so much more. It touched us—it touched me—on a soul-deep level. More importantly, it did something else…

It finally revealed what was meant by the statement “Make America Great Again.” Most people already had a sense of its meaning, but no one knew it would go this far. For us, it meant genocide, anti-Black, anti-immigration, anti-people of color, anti-anything that was non-Trump. But there’s more…

Yesterday revealed just how deeply entrenched racism and hate and ignorance are in some people (well, there were really a lot of people there and many more eagerly cheering them on from afar, not the least of whom was the president himself). The extreme actions of yesterday lacked one thing—white hoods. Well, maybe masks too because not everyone wore them despite yesterday also being a day when COVID-19 cases hit new highs in the United States.

But most importantly, by yesterday, if there were still people saying that racism and injustice and unfair treatment didn’t exist in the United States, if they still say that, then they are truly lying to themselves and worse—enabling these harms to persist. Look at the way people were treated yesterday—during a coup attempt by domestic terrorists—compared with those who participated in peaceful demonstrations and marches to finally end the endless open season on Black people, on people of color, on Indigenous people, on people who choose to be their authentic selves, on people who just want to live and be treated fairly and with the respect and dignity they deserve.

For some reason, I started thinking about “the Wall” that has been a big topic of conversation for this administration. For me, the Wall symbolizes the activities of yesterday and the meaning behind MAGA. I think about the physical policed wall to keep people out of this country, to imprison people—children—at the border, the wall of police to keep Black people from engaging in peaceful protests, the wall of police on the Capitol steps then, the wall of police cars that we see when one person of color is pulled over, even if it was just a ‘routine’ traffic stop (is it ever routine though?), the invisible wall that keeps people out and keeps white privilege in, that separates races and ethnicities, socio-economic walls delineating the Haves and the Have Nots, and the tangible wall of hatred and prejudice and racism—all used to symbolize US and THEM (only US is not all of us, just some).

Yesterday, I did not see a wall keeping the domestic terrorists from entering the Capitol. Instead, I saw the plexiglass or bullet proof, transparent wall that the outgoing #1 terrorist stood behind while he incited and condoned violence. I saw the flimsy metal barricades at the Capitol steps, easily tossed aside by the terrorists as they simply walked through them, mostly unimpeded by the police. I imagine walls in homes in DC, behind which people gathered and hoped and prayed for protection from these vigilante terrorists, some of whom were renting homes or rooms for yesterday’s events in their very neighborhoods. I saw photos of makeshift walls in the Capitol itself, built by people trapped there, to hide and protect themselves from whatever horror was occurring outside—walls of chairs and desks and whatever material those fearful people could find.

There is my main takeaway. The sheer audacity to hate has always been present, the determination to not only keep the walls up but to fortify them. That hate has been fueled over time by the greatest hate monger of all and all the despicable people around him who have and continue to enable him, and it became yesterday’s inferno. But through all of that, I saw the wall that separates how those people, those terrorists are ‘handled’ by the authorities compared with law abiding people who happen to be, for the most part, Black people and other people of color.

Today my heart hurts. And I can feel my own protective walls slowly going up.