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January 19, 2021
A Reflective Response
A Reflective Response
The shame of the assault on the Capitol of the United States is the shame of white America. By white America, I do not mean every white person in the United States. I do, however, mean the majority of white Americans. Majority means the more than half of whites who voted in this last election. According to the Pew Research Center, 57% of the whites who voted, voted for Donald Trump. That is almost 6 of every 10 white voters. Once in the confines of the Christian church, of which I am an embarrassed member, the white support increases. According to surveys and exit polls, 78% of white evangelicals, 53% of white Catholics, and 52% of white non-evangelical Protestants, supported him for a second term. That despite his racist rhetoric and actions, denial of a deadly pandemic, bullying and lies, and overt calls for extreme nationalism and white supremacy.
And now we see whites running for the exits, expressing dismay and shock and surprise at the flag-waving mob that took over the Capitol. What happened on January 6th was not an aberration – it is what Trump has been projecting, proclaiming, and calling for in the last several months – and for anyone who listened carefully – the last four years.
The election of 2020 should not have been close, and in fact, would not have been close, were it not for the majority of white American voters. White American voters, especially those of the Christian faith, bear direct responsibility for what happened on January 6th, because their votes enabled, empowered, and emboldened him to act as a mob instigator. What if the election was not even close? What if whites – en masse – had abandoned his divisive hateful political program? He would have been isolated and left without any grounds to claim the election was stolen. His only supporters would have been exposed as the mob that assaulted our democracy.
White America, not all, but most, gave him the power and platform to lead the charge against all we allegedly hold sacred in this country.
Let me again make distinction, this is not about all whites. This is about those who I believe, by their votes, their prayers (without corresponding deeds for the common good), their actions, or their silence – enabled an obviously deranged bully and self-centered racist to act in the manner he did.
You cannot swim in the sewers without wearing the stench. Were most white people assaulting the Capitol? No. Did most white voters support the one who instigated the mob – that very day – to ‘take back our country’? Yes.
Eddie Glaude, author of ‘Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own’; makes the distinction between ‘white people, and humans who happen to be white’. I make that same distinction; for I firmly believe that most white Americas are blinded by the privilege of their ‘color’ and thus are unaware being white supersedes being human or being Christian. Those who are human first, a significant minority, live with integrity, compassion and values. They in fact hold our nation together with their courageous work for justice.
The majority of whites did not storm the Capitol – but they did aid and abet their leader. That, you cannot deny, refute or explain away. It is way past time for white America, those not on the racist terrorist fringe – but those with integrity and conscience – to face the facts of their complicity and do something concrete about it. Anything less is empty words and crocodile tears which lead not to change but more of the same. When is enough enough!?
If white Americas, that majority that voted for Trump, cannot see their role in and relationship to the assault on the Capitol, and take the corresponding and necessary corrective actions; then our nation has a long, painful road ahead. Amazingly, if it were up to the majority of white voters, the majority of white Christians, Trump would be beginning another four years. Whenever I am in a group of white people; that reality disturbs me.
I am reading comments that ‘This is not America.’ As an African-American who has lived through eight different decades, one whose great-grandfather was a slave (and a child by rape of a slave woman by the slave master); I’m here to proclaim this is America. More specifically, this is white America. As Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, ‘by their fruits you shall know them.’ Again, when is enough enough?