On January 6th, 2021, thousands of armed — mostly White — Americans stormed the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. seeking to invalidate the results of the 2020 presidential election. Spurred on by the President of the United States, many of his surrogates, and over 100 members of Congress, this mob hunted for politicians they deemed insufficiently loyal to Donald Trump or viewed as enemies of the Trump movement.
In itself, this action is shocking and unconscionable. But to fully digest the attack — and its underlying roots — we must shine a light on the weaponization of race as a central theme.
It was the brashness of White maleness that Donald Trump carried into the White House — and invited into Statehouses — its material and deferential trappings on full display.
It was the drumbeat of “Make America Great Again” and “America First” — a reactionary attempt to de-center inclusion while giving White dominant narratives center stage.
It was four years of governance dubbing Black and Brown cities and nations as inferior; their leaders unfit.
It was and continues to be the endless, baseless, assertions of voter fraud and the illegitimacy of the vote in cities with large populations of Black and Brown residents, a systematic denigration of the very people who swung the election to President Joe Biden.
Of course, the culminating scene was a disillusioned White mob, draped in White Nationalist and White Supremacist symbology and slogans, continuing to insist their demagogic leader be installed in his rightful place atop the nation’s most powerful seat.
But, for every overt word and act asserting the superiority of the White race, there remain countless covert efforts to solidify racial hierarchies and inequity.
And it is against these efforts locally and statewide that our organization has organized and will remain vigilant.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the disparate access to healthcare experienced by Black and marginalized communities, the Morgantown/Kingwood Branch of the NAACP has taken the lead on organizing testing and vaccine education. In response to national and local occurrences of police misconduct, we have led the discussion with the City Council on the development and implementation of a Civilian Policing Review and Advisory Board.
The Inauguration of a new Presidential administration may lull some into complacency. Yet whether explicit or implicit, racism on all levels will persist and so too, must anti-racist action.
• The racist ideas of illegitimate votes cannot be realized into racist policies of voter
suppression; instead we must work to enact the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
• The racist idea of Black and Brown intellectual inferiority cannot be realized into racist school policies; instead we must closely monitor local, state, and national policy-making bodies.
• The racist idea of the innate danger of Black and Brown people cannot be realized into racist policies protecting and excusing police violence; instead we must advocate for the enactment of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
The last year has created the opportunity for discussion and policy change in a way that has not existed in recent memory; we are resolved and recommit to taking advantage of that opportunity to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and wellbeing of all persons.