The January 6th Insurrectionists’ assault on our Capitol revealed a number of things beyond the American Divide, which is always racial, although this Insurrection was framed as political by most of the talking heads.
Of all the disturbing images and words from this Trump-inspired coup attempt, what cut to the very core of my being as a Black man born and bred in America, with roots firmly planted in American soil since 1805 — this is as far back I have been able to trace my roots, since my white ancestors, the 12 percent of “white blood” that courses through my veins, are hiding in the family tree — was the lynch mob’s chant of, “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!” Despite what mostly white politicos and commentators are proclaiming, this is the America Black people know. In that moment, when the lynch mob was not too far from perhaps finding Mike Pence and his family hiding from them, possibly to hang Pence, I was in solidarity with Mike Pence and his family. There is nothing more frightening, nothing more fear-evoking to a Black person in America, than a lynch mob. Just the thought of a hanging touches and triggers something deep in the Black American soul and psyche — the horrors of lynching are part of our collective unconscious, as if we all have experienced it, and we have, on a cellular level — it is in our DNA. I just wonder if, in the moment when the mob was chanting for Mike Pence’s head, if he got a glimpse of or felt any solidarity with the more than 4,400 Black men, women, and children who were hanged, burned alive, shot, drowned, and beaten to death by white mobs between 1877 and 1950, and the millions of Black people who unconsciously shiver at the sight of a tree. Don’t get me wrong, for me it is not about Mike Pence’s politics, and I have nothing against him personally, but it is about his unwavering loyalty to Donald Trump, who debased the Office of the Presidency, who cast him off when he decided to follow the Constitution instead of doing Trump’s final bidding. I have joked that if I were making a movie I would cast Pence as Lucifer, although I know that that is unfair, because Trump is as close to the antichrist as we have encountered and experienced in America. (Shame on you, white Evangelicals!)
I don’t know why this thought just popped into my head — the beheading of John the Baptist — but in the annals of history we have seen people lose their heads for far less when they fall from power and fall from grace. Mike Pence should count himself as lucky!
Finally, just think of the costumes some of the characters wore when they invaded the Capitol. Did they think they were in an episode of Game of Thrones? Well, Winter has come, and Democracy, always fragile, has held on to its head. For now.