PerspectivesNikesha Elise Williams Jacksonville Today Contributor

Opinion: Hotbeds of hatred

Published on July 27, 2022 at 9:03 pm
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A scene from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6th, 2021. | AP

On Jan. 6th, 2021, I sat beside my mother in my living room, eyes glued to the television watching the attack on the Capitol. I thought, I tweeted and I said repeatedly, “If that had been Black people, they’d have been dead.” 

It’s the same thought that circles my mind every time I see the footage either during the hearings or in the recaps on the news. It’s the same thought I continue to tweet more than a year later. And it’s the same thought I say out loud commiserating with other Black people who snidely say, think and believe the same.

When I see the attack on the Capitol, I am immediately angry and confounded by why the armed police seemed unable to prevent the breach of the barrier.

Where were the warning shots? Where was the tear gas? Where were the rubber bullets? Where were the armored vehicles? Where were the battering rams? Where was the paramilitary protective gear? These are all the markings and accoutrement of how police prepare for a Black Lives Matter protest in virtually every city. Why did they not show up the same for the protesters who arrived on Jan. 6th?


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The only answer is race. And that is the answer that takes me from angry to sad — a conclusion that forces me to shut off the TV, get in my bed and lie down. I’m not asking or advocating for the police to have slaughtered 10,000-plus people at the Capitol. But I am asking why do police continue to slaughter us?

The insurrectionists, many of them armed, some of them proud militia members, ex-military and current cops, marched on the seat of government to overthrow it and were allowed to do so. And when they finished, they went home and complained of being treated like terrorists when prosecutors began finding, arresting, charging and trying them like the criminals they are.

The attempted coup may have taken place in January 2021, but it’s been festering, growing, and spreading in communities across the country for years. Nearly 100 people from Florida have been charged in the attack; the most of any state. Those people hail from places like St. Augustine, Fernandina Beach, Orange Park, Middleburg, Raiford and more across Northeast Florida. However, no one here would dare say that the First Coast is a hotbed of racist, treasonous and seditious sentiment and activity.

Many believe and will soon be legislated to learn that systemic racism doesn’t exist, but when it flares, it is an affliction of the extreme on both sides. As if the notion of Black pride or Black power or Black lives actually mattering is akin to white supremacy.

Racism is not extreme. Anti-Black racism is banal and mundane. As plain as white Wonder bread, hold the mayo, on a sandwich. As American as hotdogs and beer at the ballpark. As common as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. You can count on it to occur. You can depend on it to flare daily. In offices between coworkers, on buses and street corners, in neighborhoods after dark. That is where racism lives. It doesn’t come to visit only when we see a targeted attack like at Mother Emmanuel or Tops Friendly Market. It didn’t arrive only in certain members of some police forces when they were apprehending a Black male subject who fit a description. It isn’t a spirit that just jumped into the bodies of white men who stalk, chase and taunt Black men and boys who have the audacity to not comply let alone listen to strangers.

The anti-Black racist violence we’ve seen exhibited by vigilantes and police alike doesn’t just occur like a spontaneous combustion of wits and wiles. Rather, it lives, breathes, spreads out and gets comfortable in communities and families who have had an ax to grind, a bone to pick, since 1865…since 1965…since 2008. The manifestation of that mentality is what we saw march on the Capitol with guns, knives and Confederate flags with the intent to hang the vice president, kill specific members of Congress and take the country back to make America great again.

When was America ever great? When was America ever the highest version of itself as set out in our own Declaration of Independence and Constitution? The high-minded and self-righteous ideals we all love to quote — self-included — this country has yet to live up to. While there have been some positive outcomes since the insurrection, including the televised hearings and the Justice Department’s investigating the former president, Jan. 6th is a reminder that it will still be a long time before America in reality aligns with the American Dream.

Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.


author image Jacksonville Today Contributor

Nikesha Elise Williams is an Emmy-winning TV producer, award-winning novelist (Beyond Bourbon Street and Four Women) and the host/producer of the Black & Published podcast. Her bylines include The Washington Post, ESSENCE, and Vox. She lives in Jacksonville with her family.

author image Jacksonville Today Contributor

Nikesha Elise Williams is an Emmy-winning TV producer, award-winning novelist (Beyond Bourbon Street and Four Women) and the host/producer of the Black & Published podcast. Her bylines include The Washington Post, ESSENCE, and Vox. She lives in Jacksonville with her family.


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