“This isn’t who we are.”
President-elect Joe Biden said these words in the aftermath of Wednesday’s assault on the US Capitol. Politicians like to say this during events like this. I believe that President-elect Biden and others who use that phrase mean nothing but good. They want to say that as Americans we aspire to higher goals and that what happened is something that is uncharacteristic of who we are as Americans.
This phrase comes from a good place. It’s also incredibly wrong. This is who we are. This is who we are as a nation.
African Americans, Native Americans and other persons of color are more aware of the dark sides of American history, where people are not treated equally. Those dark sides still continue to this day. It is not too far fetched to say that white Americans and persons of color had two different views as they saw the mostly white crowd running amok within the walls of the US Capitol. White Americans think “this isn’t who we are.” But African Americans and other persons of color shake their heads and say “This IS Who we are.” We say that because we know that this event wasn’t just about crazy Trump supporters. It was about race. President Trump wanted to overturn a fair election by invalidating the votes of millions of Americans in six states, many of which have substantial African American populations. While America is a better place for African Americans than it was in the 1950s and earlier, there are still challenges and that includes what happened on January 6.