By Sikivu Hutchinson
In 1967, Black Power activist Stokely Carmichael commented, “When you see an individual white boy, you are not afraid of that individual white boy. What you are afraid of is the power that he represents because behind him stands the local police force, the state militia, the Army and the Navy.” Yesterday’s bloodlust at the Capitol bore out Carmichael’s statement, as well as the power of state violence manifested in the protected bodies of individual white people across gender (white women played a key role in the terrorist attack. According to the DC police, eight of the current arrestees are female and the sole individual who was killed during the attack was a white woman). Black Power exposed the fundamental lie of American “democracy” and its basis in white supremacy, white terrorism, and white imperialism. Black Power, like the Black Lives Matter movement that draws from its legacy, identified the heart of terror in a police state that normalizes white violence via the courts, the jails, law enforcement, public policy, public education, and private capital. Hence, it should have been no surprise that there were no riot police, rubber bullets, tear gas or pepper spray deployment on the protected bodies of white terrorists in contrast to the violent backlash against BLM protestors.
A decade ago, after the election of President Barack Obama, white Tea Party terrorists and armed militias stormed state capitols across the nation in resistance to the Affordable Care Act, “illegal” immigration, and delusional threats to the Second Amendment. In townhall after townhall, they ginned up violence and hate against Obama, “criminal” Black communities “on welfare”, and undocumented immigrants while infamously screaming ignorant bullshit like “keep your government hands off my Medicare”. Throughout the rise of both the Tea Party and Trumpism, white pundits across the political spectrum have invoked economic grievance as an explanation for these displays of unadulterated white racism and white supremacy. But the white supremacist terrorism that the entire globe watched on January 6th had nothing to do with white “proletarian” angst or class struggle. It was fueled by the same barbaric anti-Black demonization that fueled the Confederacy, Jim Crow terrorism, and Northern style apartheid. Poor whites, such as those who boarded buses and planes to ransack the Capitol while flying “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, gain capital from white supremacy just as they did in the aftermath of Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 (which, among other things, codified the right of working class whites to assemble, bear arms, and hold property). To all Black folks watching, the Capitol violence was yet another gut punch reminder that being white confers concrete class privilege and carte blanche to commit mayhem on public institutions with impunity. White pundits and politicians who lamented that the assault desecrated Western democracy were soundly smacked down on social media by Black folks who schooled them that Amerikkkan “law and order” has always been forged through the violent domestic and global suppression of Black and brown bodies. Even though the superficial targets of the January 6th terrorist uprising were the Capitol and the election certification process, the assertion of Black self-determination, human rights, and social justice — as embodied by last summer's racial justice uprisings, Black mobilization around the presidential election and the Georgia Senate race — were the ultimate targets.