As A Black Woman, The U.S. Capitol's Policing Hypocrisy Isn't Surprising To Me At All

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On May 30, 2020, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times during the protests for George Floyd in which he stated, “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it everywhere.”

And see it we did: yesterday in Washington D.C. when far-right white supremacists and Q-Anon conspiracists bulldozed their way into the U.S. Capitol building. 

They were met with little, if any police aggression — and that is domestic terrorism.

And this, folks, is America.

But yesterday, watching the news footage and seeing Trump supporters gallivanting through the Capitol, all the way to the Senate floor: none of this was surprising to me. Because that’s the reality in a country built on white power.

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The way the media and the police responded to armed "protestors" (read: rioters) as they swarmed a government building amid an electoral college confirmation versus the way law enforcmeent has responded to communities of color organizing peacefully to fight for an actual cause — which are their basic fundamental rights, as outlined by the Consitution, is blatantly racist and the summation of white privilege.

There were no rubber bullets, no tanks, no excessive use of military force. Nothing.

We've seen ex-Presidents and even President-elect Joe Biden sharing the same rhetoric around these riots : “This isn’t America,” “This isn’t what an American democracy represents,” “We’re better than this.”

But I have to disagree.

This is exactly what America is. This is exactly what America was built to do: Uphold white supremacy. 

And America will continue to run into these problems, into the same horrific situation that occured yesterday if nothing changes, if we don’t continue having conversations about race. 

The history of law enforcement dates all the way back to slavery. Patrol groups were created to stop runaway slaves, then were refined to the job of keeping order — but keeping order for whom?

It’s difficult to contend with the racist history of our nation, but there can be no progress without talking and confonting that very difficult past.

The police are trained to protect white people; they're not trained to defend against white people.

James Baldwin once gave an interview in 1969 on The Dick Cavett Show. On it, he said, “Any white man in the world says give me liberty or give me death, the entire white world applauds. When a Black man says exactly the same thing, word for word, he is judged a criminal and treated like one.”

We saw it happening during the summer #BlackLivesMatter protests, folks marching for many Black people who had been murdered by police and white supremacists.

We saw the aggression. 

We saw the arrests. 

We saw the violence. 

We saw Black people go missing from simply a grainy photograph of them peacefully marching.

Racism has always been about who has the power, who benefits from that power, and who upholds that power: the answer to that was staring directly in all our faces yesterday.

Revolutionary change is impossible until we start to address the repressive forces that have plagued this country for over four centuries.

There is no “great America.”

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America was never great — at least not for communities of color.

America has never been a progressive country, or one that has allowed freedom for everyone.

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The system of policing is tragically built on the ideology of power and corruption. Prisons are another form of institutionalized slavery. 

Everything that is happening right now is a direct result of years of ignorance. Years of building and trying to forget.

The insurrection that happened yesterday was not a result of Trump’s presidency, although the last four years haven’t done much to pacify tensions. 

The insurrection that happened was a result of years of allowing white people to still think that this country will always be for them first. 

And to be clear: I don't blame white people for that thinking: the system allowed it.

I can only blame this system. 

Even when Joe Biden is inaugurated in three weeks,white supremacists won’t suddenly drop off the face of the planet. 

They weren’t created by Trump being elected in 2016, the same way they were always there when Obama was in office.

They've always existed and will continue to exist. 

We all saw pictures of Trump supporters stealing from the U.S. Capitol building, one man even walked out with a podium — state property.

Remember: George Floyd was killed for an alleged counterfeit bill.

Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back while trying to get into his car.

Tamir Rice was shot in a park playing with a toy gun.

There needs to be an end to the call for unity.

There is no such thing as unity — only accountability.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Chicago. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.