America on the Brink
January 7, 2021
Kanika Magee is the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and the Special Assistant for Interfaith Programming at Howard University, a leading HBCU in Washington D.C., and a 2020 Interfaith America Racial Equity Fellow.
I can’t say what part of January 6, 2021, concerned, baffled or infuriated me most. Was it the images of the U.S. Capitol being overrun? Was it the confederate flags being marched around in this symbol of freedom? Was it the interruption of the albeit convoluted electoral process? Was it the U.S. Capitol Police and DC Police retreating in fear? Was it the gender-motivated disrespectful gesture If not just breaking into someone’s office, but kicking one’s feet up on the desk of the female Speaker of House?
Was it the revelation of ultimate white privilege: to mount an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and live to tweet about it? Was it the poignant understanding that, had black and brown-skinned people enacted such a revolt, there would have been many deaths, not just one soul lost? Was it the juxtaposition of the armed forces who showed up in anticipation of #BLM protests with the lack of force in anticipation of the Proud Boys, etc.? Was it the reality that black and brown-skinned citizens would never have been allowed to climb the walls, break the windows, or storm the chambers of this – or any other – significant building in these United States without life-taking force being used against us?
Was it the audacity of people to act surprised by this scene when, in fact, the sitting President has been actively calling for this for weeks – or dare we acknowledge four years? Was it the idea that Trump is being blamed as if his words were not fueled and enabled by the cowardly silence of so many alleged leaders who allowed this to brew knowing too well what was really at stake?
Was it the confusion of my 6 and 8 year olds who couldn’t understand what was happening just a few miles away from our home? Or was it the sarcasm of my 15 and 17 year old who have already lost faith in this nation and its institutions?
Is it the sad reality that those who did this have no remorse, feel completely justified…and will likely have no consequences?
This moment has, as so many have before, revealed the deep distance between us. America has at the root of its history the genocide of people who were here before Columbus and a slave trade upon which its wealth was built. Two races of people originally had to be victims for America to become what it is today. And since then, this history of racism and bigotry has repeated itself in detention camps, Jim Crow, immigration laws and a mis-writing of history that discounts the presence and contributions of people of color and the systemic racism that is embedded in our society. This underpinning of bigotry, rooted in hate and fear, fueled by the remarks of a racist and sexist President, fanned by the orchestrated support and glaring silence of those who should know better, led us slowly and calculatedly to January 6, 2021.
Disappointed, yes. Surprised, no. And while I have admittedly grown more pessimistic, I am still hopeful for the future of this nation, and I know we must and will chart our way together.
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