Yesterday was nothing short of horrifying, but unfortunately, I can’t say that I’m surprised. This act of domestic terrorism was not unexpected. It was the result of one of the most divisive American presidencies of all time; it was but a likely consequence after months of repeated baseless allegations of election fraud.
That is why I am sick of the “this is not our America” rhetoric. Because this is exactly our America right now, and we best believe it. The “this isn’t our America” rhetoric lets us think that what happened yesterday was unpredictable. It allows us to neglect that the riots stemmed from a system historically built upon and contemporarily sustained by white supremacy. If we begin to believe what happened yesterday was an anomaly, it lets us shirk away from accepting that the root of the problem is deeper than the current presidency: it is an entire system that is in dire need of reform.
When we say “this isn’t our America,” what we really mean is that this isn’t the nation we want to see, that these aren’t the values we want to uphold. So then, we would be better served to open our eyes and accept that this is the country we have allowed it to become. Sadly, this is our America, and only by acknowledging that will we ever feel compelled to do something about it.
The America that many of us want to believe in does not exist right now. For almost a year, we have lacked competent leadership throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, which contributed to 2020 being the deadliest year in US history. This is our America. Currently in the USA, use of police force is among the leading causes of death for young men of color. This is our America. To date, over 600 parents of children separated from their families at the border in 2017 are still missing. This is our America. And yesterday, domestic terrorists led an attempted coup on Capitol Hill. This. Is. Our. America. Let it make us uncomfortable, let it make us angry, and let it fuel our meaningful action.
What happened yesterday on Capitol Hill is our America, but it doesn’t paint the full picture. The November 2020 election reinforced the power of the people’s voice and showed us an evolving country. Just yesterday morning before the violent insurrection, we again celebrated a glimpse of the kind of America we want to live in, as the people of Georgia spoke through their votes. If we truly believe that the violent mob of yesterday does not reflect our country, then we can continue this momentum. An America that actually serves its all of its people – including racial, ethnic, gender, and religious minorities – is our emerging America. If we persist in mobilizing, organizing, and speaking up for this rising America, then there will come a day we can again start to say, “this is our America” with pride.
Roma Gujarathi is a second-year student at BC Law. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.