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.
My brother, my brother, my brother!! Man!! If ever the “bulls-eye” was struck with more precision concerning this matter–I have not heard it or seen it. Since 1/6/21, I have tossed and turned all night with that image in my head. I kid you not! Just last night, as I lay awake in bed, I wondered if Pence (former Governor of Indiana) made any connection in his mind with J. Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, the two young black men (accused of murder and rape) lynched in Marion, Indiana on August 7, 1930. It was the picture of their dead bodies hanging from trees that inspired the Jewish NYC schoolteacher to write the 1937 poem, “Bitter Fruit” which was later set to music (and renamed “Strange Fruit) and performed by Billie Holiday in 1939.
I wonder if Mike Pence knows how close he came to being “strange fruit?” I doubt he made the connection. I wonder how Pence feels knowing that his loyalty to Trump meant absolutely nothing? I wonder if Mike Pence asked why the security was so lax that day? I wonder if he thinks about the police response to BLM protests compared to the Capitol riot? I wonder if this experience will lead to a real “Come To Jesus moment” for Pence and white evangelicals like him? Only time will tell–but I doubt it.
Thank you brother Eric! Love your insight and wit! I hope you send your post to Mike Pence–it just might save his (soul) head.
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Interesting! I should try to send it to Mike Pence!
This is sobering and bone chilling. I’m sharing this with my family. Every white Person should read this.