The Tradition of White Privilege and Power On Display As Insurrectionists Storm the Capitol

Statement from Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families

“What happened at our nation’s Capitol building on Wednesday was a display of rageful white supremacy that has been stirring for the past four years. An armed, violent mob of mostly white Americans attempted to overthrow our democracy and the will of the people at the direction and encouragement of the person occupying the highest seat of government. The president and his Republican allies incited an insurrection aimed at undermining a fair and legitimate election in which voters, particularly voters of color, turned out in record numbers despite the risks of a global pandemic. Our public officials should act in the most expedient way that would lead to the president’s removal from office. He is an unfit and dangerous leader.

“The events at the Capitol should surprise no one. Dismissing and attempting to silence the voices and experiences of Black and Brown people is a tragic tradition of American culture. For four years, this president has stoked flames of division by validating white Americans’ perceived threat of a power structure that, for once, doesn’t just benefit them. What we saw on Wednesday was a dramatic manifestation of the same white privilege Black and Brown Americans are conscious of every single day.

“After a summer of peaceful protests in which Black Americans and other allies who stood up against racial injustice and police brutality were met with tear gas, rubber bullets and brute force, a violent mob of insurrectionists stormed the seat of our national government, removed symbols of democracy and were calmly escorted out of the building. We can no longer pretend to be shocked. We do ourselves and our neighbors a disservice when we hide behind empty platitudes about how ‘This is not us’ and how ‘We are better than this.’ It’s past time for America to face the reality that we are exactly what we saw on Wednesday.

“White Americans who believe themselves to be allies must consider whether they are truly worthy of the title. Whatever we have been doing, it’s time to do more. The precarious future of our democracy rests in the hands of those who are willing to fight to protect it in ways in which we may not have been challenged to do so before.

“Black women have always done this work. The most recent iteration is seen in the historic Senate victories in Georgia which were quickly overshadowed. Stacey Abrams, LaTosha Brown, Nse Ufot and so many other grassroots organizers of color deserve their due praise for fighting to protect a democracy that so often demonstrates it does not value them. White women have a responsibility to stand in the gap in this fight. I hope you’ll join me as we work toward building an America that finally lives up to its ideals.”

About the National Partnership

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

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