Why Did The 'Patriots' Smear Their Sh*t On The Walls (And Statues)Though?
Have you ever cleaned up shit? Probably, especially if you’re a parent. Let me ask differently: Have you ever cleaned up adult shit off of a statue? No? Me either. But you know who did? Black and Brown people, custodians, police men and women, Capitol staffers who were left to (once again) save white people from themselves.
In early June, just weeks after George Floyd’s murder, “The Help” was trending on Netflix in the Top 10 movies to watch. Do you remember that movie? Emma Stone played a young girl living in the 1960’s aspiring to become an author by uncovering the trials and tribulations of African American maids during that time (played by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer). The movie, as Viola Davis would remind us years after making it, wasn’t the voice of the Black maids but a reminder to viewers that white people have long needed the help of Black (and Brown) people to merely exist. And on January 6th, we were reminded this much.
During President Barack Obama’s administration, we were reminded that the White House is “The People’s House.” Former First Lady Michelle Obama famously said during her DNC speech in 2016 as she rallied support for a Hillary Clinton presidential win to say this: “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves,” she said. “And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent Black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States. So don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again, because this right now is the greatest country on earth.” Built in 1792, nearly 75 years before slavery came to an end in America, the White House was built largely thanks to slave labor.
One year later in 1793, Capitol Hill was built, serving Congress and the Supreme Court, poised to create laws speaking to the needs and demands of the time. Again, enslaved African Americans helped to build Capitol Hill, today a building meant to serve to protect the rights of all Americans — including Black Americans, descendants of the very people who helped to build it. And also the people who have — for over 400 years — carried the burdens of the ignorant, the uneducated, the racists whose rhetoric and actions continue to plague our America today. And it has not stopped; a mere two weeks ago, it got even dirtier.
When George Floyd was murdered, we Black Americans were expected to educate White Americans on how to treat us, how to show us value, and how to understand us as fellow human beings, something that has never been part of our job to do. On January 6th, we cleaned up — quite literally — the feces of grown white folks who showed a complete and disgusting disregard for the America they say they love. One reporter noted, “The feces left behind was just some of extensive damage caused by the mob when they stormed the Capitol in a violent siege that has left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer who is believed to have been hit over the head with a fire extinguisher during the riot.”
The “extensive damage” also rests in the division that plagues our country. Instead of wearing cowardly white sheets, what we saw out in the open at the Capitol riots were men and women who will stop at nothing to take back “their” America — a land that was never theirs to begin with, one they did not build by hand.
The shit smeared on the statues in the halls of Capitol Hill is only a smelly physical symbol of what African Americans have known to be true of white Americans since 1419 — that white privilege will forever hinder social and political progress of one of the most advanced societies in the world. Pictures are documenting that, yet again, African Americans and brown Americans continue to clean-up and provide for white America, in ways that many are too entitled to do themselves.
The symbolism in this gesture speaks volumes. Americans of color are, once again, entrenched in fixing a mess we didn’t create.
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