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America’s history of double standards and racism has led to an insurrection.

On January 6, The U.S. Capitol building was stormed, attacked and overtaken. Not by foreign enemies or groups of sophisticated spies, but by average American Citizens — in this case, domestic terrorists. It resulted in several Capitol police officers being severely injured and one killed, along with several other injuries and four more casualties. Since then, several commentators, experts, lawmakers, analysts and “talking heads” have made the claim that this event was “un-American.”

“This is not America!” is what I hear over and over. For those who share that sentiment, I’d like to share some news — this is definitely America. Angry mobs taking the law into their own hands through means of violence and terrorism is uniquely American, and it always has been.

The evidence has been right in front of our faces since the country’s inception, so to think otherwise is to live in denial and delusion.

If atrocities like the Tulsa race massacres of 1921 (on top of several other race massacres led by white mobs), centuries of brutal chattel slavery, a deadly Civil War, the Trail of Tears, Japanese Internment Camps, church bombings, church shootings, school shootings and the consistent police brutality against unarmed young Black men didn’t show you America’s true colors, then your eyes have been closed. As much as you may not want to admit it, you’ve been living in denial and delusion if you believe the events from January 6 aren’t characteristic of America.

Now, I’m not saying the attempted coup that happened isn't unique or a turning point in our country’s history, because it absolutely is. What I’m saying is that this isn’t unlike other atrocities that have gone on to define who we are as a country. Large angry white mobs have a history of successfully storming and attacking government buildings in America with the intention of taking the law into their own hands.

A history of angry white mobs taking the law into their own hands — Tulsa Race Massacres

In 1921, Dick Rowland, a young African American shoe shiner in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was accused of assaulting a white elevator operator in an elevator. The local newspaper published an article claiming that the young man tried to rape the woman, provoking an angry lynch mob to descend on the courthouse where Rowland was being held. They were there to take the law into their own hands by using violence and force — not that different from the intentions of the Trump supporters and domestic terrorists who attacked our Capitol building chanting, “Hang Michael Pence.”

There was an armed standoff on the courthouse grounds between the police, several Black men who arrived to defend Rowland and a mob of nearly 2,000 armed white men. Eventually, shots rang out and many of those who arrived to protect Rowland were shot and killed, while others retreated back to Greenwood, a prominent and flourishing Black community at the time. The lynch mob followed, burning and looting stores, armories and homes along the way.

For the next two days, the mob grew in size and hostility, proceeding to set fire to almost every home and building in Greenwood. Several members of the mob were also WWI veterans who had access to military planes and other weapons, so they flew fighter planes over the community and dropped bombs on the defenseless citizens of Greenwood.

It’s been estimated that nearly 300 were killed, with the great majority of the slain being African American citizens of Greenwood, along with 191 businesses, a junior high school, several churches, the only hospital in the district and over 1,200 homes.

This is just one of many instances in our history where an angry white mob decided to take the law into its own hands through violence, terrorism and destruction. Mob rule is uniquely American, and it always has been. To look at the Trump insurrection and say, “This is not America,'' is just a lie and a slap in the face to all of the different groups and communities who have suffered losses to these lynch mobs. It means you’ve ignored this history because it was convenient for you, similar to how the Tulsa race massacres have been downplayed and ignored. (Many of the textbooks in Oklahoma school districts don’t even make a mention of the event.)

A history of double standards and white privilege

America’s history of racism and double standards is now imploding on itself. As the late Malcolm X would put it — the chickens are coming home to roost.

Remember, America became the world’s superpower that it is today by leaning on an institution of forced slavery and free labor that lasted for over 400 years. A system that exploited Africans in the most vicious ways imaginable for centuries. A system of free labor that allowed wealthy land-owners, families and eventually states to amass huge amounts of wealth without having to worry about any business’s main expense — labor. A system built on hate, racism and torture is essentially what catapulted America into it’s leading position as a world superpower. 

A system that labeled African Americans as threatening animals to be slaughtered without hesitation, while labeling white men as harmless innovators to be pedestalled. This system is now turning on itself and imploding. It created an environment where, subconsciously, it’s almost impossible to view white men as threatening or dangerous, even as large groups of them openly plotted on attacking our nation’s Capitol building. That system allowed thousands of Trump supporters to openly and proudly make plans for sedition and terrorism with almost no resistance. Without correction, that system will continue to implode on itself and manifest in many different ways.

Something that’s hard to overlook is law enforcement’s questionable lack of preparation for the attack. Ample evidence was widely and publicly available that this would happen. There were social media posts, groups and hundreds of people saying very explicitly for weeks that they were planning to take arms and storm the capitol on January 6. Many even made direct threats to kill police officers and public officials who might be involved in certifying electoral votes.

How do we miss all of that with all of the intelligence we have available for tracking for this sort of behavior? With the massive protests and riots we saw over the summer in protest of police brutality? With all of the resources, departments and law enforcement operations we employ? If this had been a foreign enemy invading our capitol, are you telling me there would have been the same response? Did we actually even “miss” it?

Maybe America’s history of racism and double standards created an environment where white men are subconsciously seen as harmless and non-threatening, and put on a pedestal regardless of what they do. Think Ted Bundy. Think all of the people who still refer to the domestic terrorists who stormed the Capitol as “protesters.” Maybe we’re at a point where too many people have lived in denial for too long.

We all know that to fix any problem, you have to first admit that there’s a problem, and then you identify it. The longer you deny it, the longer the problem persists. The longer we live in denial and make claims that acts like this are “un-American,” — instead of admitting we have a uniquely American problem with double standards and racism that allows events like this to happen — the more we’ll see things like this take place (unfortunately).

As long as so many people are living in denial and ignoring our country’s history and reality, they will continue to ignore the signs and this problem will persist.