Sandy Hudson, co-founder of BLM Canada, on the riots in the US Capitol and how hatred against blacks has grown in political strength without consequence
It’s Monday, January 11th. Last week a violent crowd of white supremacists stormed the United States Capitol. A few days ago, Facebook and Instagram announced that President Donald Trump had been banned from using their platforms indefinitely after originally announcing it would be banned until after President-elect Joe Biden took office. Twitter announced that Trump would be permanently banned from his platform after initially being banned for a 24-hour period. Yesterday, Amazon kicked Parler, the Twitter platform popular among white supremacists, from its servers and taken them offline. It was announced today that two Capitol police officers have been suspended in connection with the storm on the Capitol.
The news is moving so fast I need to let you know exactly when I’m writing. It feels like this week was a month long at the same time and like we never really left 2020.
And I am indescribably sad.
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The type of legal work I have chosen to do means that when difficult situations arise, I get down to work that have deep connections to racism and white supremacy in our society. I write, I speak, I prepare others and I try to give people tools that will help them critically understand how to think about the event.
I found it very difficult this week.
Let me remind you where we were early last week. There was an astonishing election vote in which the Democrats won the US Senate seats in Georgia for the first time in 20 years. This was an incredibly important runoff election; The results mean the Democrats will have a Senate majority of one vote and will control the legislative and executive branches of government. The result will send the first black senator from a southern state and the 11th black senator in United States history to Washington. The win was thanks to the incredible organizational work of the Black Community in Georgia.
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The night after the Georgia elections and before the Capitol storming, white supremacists gathered on the streets of DC. They claimed they were there for a rally to “stop the theft.” The lie Trump and his husband had propagated that the Democrats had won the 2020 election because of electoral fraud. So they said they were there, but there are recordings of the crowd singing “f – k BLM!”. over and over.
I’m sad because it’s so clear how much these people hate black people. And they were allowed to increase in number and political strength without consequence.
On the day of the violent events in DC, one of the most disturbing images I saw was of two white men gleefully mimicking George Floyd’s murder during the Capitol storm. Again, these are people who say their actions are related to election fraud, but they feel the need to recreate that violent act – why? This week in Los Angeles, the city I currently reside in, a black woman who was walking downtown was violently attacked by a white supremacist mob. They tossed her nickname, doused her with pepper spray, tore the wig from her head and squeezed it during the attack. The police were nearby. You didn’t do anything.
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These pictures hit me to the core. What kind of depravity creates the motivation to do these things? I will never understand the impact of white supremacy and anti-blackness on the psyche.
But there is a logic. It informs about the destruction of the Breonna Taylor bust in Oakland. It informs about the desecration of mosques across Canada. It informs about the vandalism of images from demonstrations by the Black Lives Matter in Toronto.
After the elections in Georgia, the state’s Republican legislators immediately decided to change the electoral laws (unlike Canada, individual states in the US set specific rules for voting in federal elections). If they pass, the new rules will restrict postal voting and voters will be able to vote and impose strict photo ID requirements for those who meet the new postal voting restrictions.
The clear implication is that Republicans are trying to prevent blacks from voting the same number again.
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Maybe a coup will happen. But it’s not just staged in the violent attacks that have taken place on state lawmakers and the Capitol.
As I argued elsewhere this week, Canadians cannot be hypocritical. Let’s not forget that Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford, once named Proud Boy of the Month by the Proud Boys, cut the size of Toronto City Council by nearly half in the 2018 Toronto City Council elections. When the station lines were redesigned on the last day of the candidates’ registration period, several aspiring color councils were excluded from the race.
The disenfranchisement of blacks, the acts of violence we are often exposed to, the resistance of the politicians in power to even deal with the way the police attack and kill us, the poor education, the aim of imprisonment, the devaluation of our being – that’s me so sad, angry, sick and tired of living in a society that hates me.
I am beside myself.
Too much blood was spilled. It feels like my brain is giving me away. Surely it can’t be true that so much overt hatred could be spat out against black people, and so many would ignore it, say it was harmless, explain it as something else and just let it go on?
When will we face this honestly and seriously?
I’m just so incredibly sad.
Sandy Hudson is the co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Canada, co-hosted the Sandy and Nora Talk Politics podcast, and co-edited the bestselling book Until We’re Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada.