Let’s start 2021 honest.
Underlying the U.S. Capitol terror attack is racism. Specifically, it’s White backlash, the hostile reaction by White Americans to the “threat” of full racial equality. Social progress makes us White people nervous. Since Reconstruction, we have argued for incremental advances in civil rights, warning of slippery slopes that will endanger liberty. It’s hard to admit our real fear: equality threatens our unearned power. With this power, we marginalize Black and Brown people while burdening them with our racial education.
Last Wednesday wasn’t about White privilege but White power, a force in every level of society. The failed coup was carried out by private citizens but catalyzed, coordinated, and condoned by elected officials. Anything less than prosecution of those involved shows our government — including the president-elect — isn’t serious about our democracy’s survival.
And anything less than White people admitting that our fear of racial equality fuels systemic oppression shows we aren’t serious about progress. If you’re White and this offends you, please consider one final idea. This isn’t about us. This is about millions of Americans of color who live in pain and fear because we — White people — won’t be honest with ourselves, because we won’t sacrifice certain advantages to make America what we have long pretended it is, a place where anyone can succeed.
executive director, Baton Rouge Youth Coalition