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“While our president has called BLM protesters ‘thugs,’ Black children sitting in front of a television screen Wednesday afternoon watching as the president’s supporters vandalized the capitol saw Donald Trump call his followers ‘great patriots,'” writes VOX teen staffer Daya Brown. “The same people destroying our country, fueled by the insanity of what he, their leader, has taught them.” 

Above artwork by Aidan Ventimiglia, VOX teen staff

The War Has Already Begun: How Young Black People Saw The Capitol Riot [Opinion]

by share

On January 6, 2021, the world woke up to the news that the United States Senate has officially been turned blue by the state of Georgia. As our leaders, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff prepared to introduce themselves to the world, their success was immediately obliterated out of the news cycle by Trump supporters attacking the United States Capitol. 

The timing of this attack was to intentionally stop the count of the Electoral College Votes for which they did succeed. The vote was temporarily stopped as Congress adjourned for safety reasons. The vote finally resumed at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Biden/Harris’ victory was formally certified by Congress at 3:40 a.m. Thursday. 

For people of color watching the white majority mob of Trump supporters occupy the Capitol building, it was difficult not to reflect upon George Floyd’s murder and the outcry of those of us going to the streets pleading to feel wanted in this country. The United States is so afraid of our skin color, police in riot gear are often dispatched to Black Lives Matters protests before our marches even begin.

The Trump supporters who took it upon themselves to go to the Capitol Hill and terrorize our democracy on Wednesday faced no such police presence. Even as they continued to involve themselves in domestic terrorism, rioting, and looting, many were not stopped while participating in these actions. 

What makes these incidents different are the time, place, reason — and the power of their skin. It’s one thing to fight for equality and another to fight and threaten our democracy because your candidate didn’t win a presidential re-election. In the same situation, a Black man’s blood would be flowing throughout the streets, unlawfully killed by those who are sworn to protect us. The cause of death on our death certificates remains being Black in America. 

The war has already begun.

We, as so-called American citizens who sat back and watched the uproar taking place at our nation’s Capitol, the anger shown by the insurgents who made it clear they feel like something is being taken away from them – that they thought they deserved – is what gets me the most angry. I saw the disbelief and fear in my Black nine-year-old brother’s eyes as we watched the United States Capitol being vandalized, witnessing the exact opposite of democracy. As we watched, I thought it was funny to think that this is the America that is called “the land of the free.”

For us, there is no land of the free, American dream, or freedom. I sat back and watched as those who burst into a federal property were greeted with minimal repercussions from those in authority. The lack of a national guard presence. The lack of someone being held accountable for their actions. What am I now supposed to say when my Black little brother looks me into the eyes and says the words, “Is this truly our America?” 

In the novel “A Tale of Two Cities” by author Charles Dickens, he writes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” 

This country continues to stress to people of color that we indeed live in a tale of two cities. What comes to our minds as we watch the news in bewilderment is the thought, if only they were Black. If only they were Muslim. If only they were Hispanic. Because my people would’ve been shot and killed, just for wearing their skin proudly across their backs. They would’ve been killed for walking, jogging, being pulled over, in their jail cells, and sleeping in their rooms.

Our survival is a revival, and our pain is America’s. Our blackness is continuing to be wounded by our oppressors. While our president has called BLM protesters “thugs,” Black children sitting in front of a television screen Wednesday afternoon watching as the president’s supporters vandalized the Capitol saw Donald Trump call his followers ”great patriots.” The same people destroying our country, fueled by the insanity of what he, their leader has taught them. 

During the Black Lives Matter protest, in early September, Trump tweeted, “These anarchists, not protesters, are Biden voters. Disgraceful. Never seen anything like it. Thugs.”  On Wednesday, Trump proceeded to tell his supporters in a video, “I know your pain. I know your hurt…We had an election that was stolen from us…We love you. You’re very special.” 

As Black and Brown children watch and learn what is on the news, they start to question their identity because the police enforcement during a Black Lives Matter protest is vastly different from what is being shown as insurrectionists tear down the U.S. Capitol. 

My eyes filled with tears as supporters of Trump imitated George Floyd’s death in the eyes of many Black people watching. Video footage has emerged of rioters taking selfies with Capitol Police after breaking into the building. As I watched this, it reminded me when George Floyd was repeating the words, “I can’t breathe” because a police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck until May 25, 2020 became his death date. 

At that moment, I realized that Trump’s legacy will forever be remembered as the division of the people. There are two Americas. Black children are forced to come face to face with the question, “Which America do I live in?” The ability to survive and thrive in a country that doesn’t want us in power. Trump supporters only see power being taken away to be given to those who rightfully deserve it. Some may not have the ability to handle that power is evolving. These people who cannot handle the movement of change are the people who are marching on the Capitol’s steps.  

Let’s take the time to recognize those who decided to get into what late Georgia Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis called good trouble: People like Stacey Abrams, now-Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. In this war we find ourselves in America, they become our weapons of justice, continuously fighting for the injustices and a seat at the table. 

However, their accomplishments don’t stop there because they’re building an army of fearless, young, versatile, outspoken, and intelligent leaders who will continue to get into good trouble. And unlike the rioters who threatened our democracy this week? This was a war, now we are the victors. 


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comments (18)

  1. Allison

    Such a powerful piece. Well done, Daya.

  2. Farrah brown

    Outstanding commentary

  3. Ayana Ages Foster

    Very profound and powerful. Prayers for our nation.

  4. Monique Nunnally

    Love that you brought to bear our own tale of two Americas…great parallels! We are truly in a war but I wouldn’t quite say we have won just yet. For too long we have gotten representative justice in the form of lip service but no real change do now we have to come for real change now all these “progressives” in office. I guess that’s why we got you Daya! Amazing piece and know that this is your America too even if you have to shout it out loud so others know it too. Dope piece!

  5. Omari Mack

    Great article. Excellently written. So proud of you.

  6. Teneka Frederick

    This was excellent!

  7. Reggie Hammond

    “Our survival is a revival, and our pain is America’s. Our blackness is continuing to be wounded by our oppressors.”

    Wow, Daya! Just wow! So very well said and so very necessary. Thank you for taking the tome to share.

  8. Donna Meredith

    Well written and factual. We must be bold enough to continue to “get into good trouble!”

  9. Athena Manning

    Very good and on point perspective!! Great job Daya

  10. Stacie V

    Powerful perspective from our youth.

  11. Beliyou

    Great job. Well done.

  12. Shirley

    Daya, you are so wise! Your commentary so beautifully written. You wrote what Black lives’ hearts where feeling , but believing there is hope♥️. Good trouble is happening!

  13. Andrita Hammond

    Beautifully written.

  14. Melissa Turnipseed

    This submission speaks truth. May it be a reminder to all that young eyes are always watching and deserve to have better examples of leadership in front of them.

  15. gordon Marshall

    Greatness in the making which we need for the victory to spread non-stop

  16. Jill Estensen

    Thank you Daya for being you. Thank you for using your voice to enlighten. Thank you for dispelling hateful and confusing rhetoric with honesty, courage and GOOD TROUBLE! March on.

  17. Dr Peter Janney

    I commend Daya Brown for her article here! She awakes to the truth of what has been taking place in this country since its inception; for we are a country whose bedrock foundation was based on slavery and genocide of the American Indian. Until we, as a country, face the complete truth of who we are, we will never heal and evolve as a nation.

    Thank you Danya Brown for your courage in standing up for TRUTH !

  18. Dj

    Because young people are able to see so clearly and speak so truthfully, I have hope for America’s future. Thank you, Daya Brown.