Wednesday started as a day filled with hope. Georgia elected its first Black Senator, Raphael Warnock, the pastor of MLK’s Ebenezer Baptist Church and the son of an 82-year-old woman who once picked cotton and tobacco. Coupled with the election of Jon Ossoff, these two victories, which were powered by decades’ worth of tireless work by Black and brown Americans, gave us cautious optimism—a belief that our better angels might prevail, at least this time around.
Then the afternoon came. For the first time in two centuries, we watched in horror as insurrectionists launched a coordinated revolt on our republic—an attack not only on the physical emblem of democracy, the Capitol building, but also on the very principles of our democracy.
The causes and instigators of this siege cannot be lost on us. Wednesday’s mob was carried out by domestic terrorists and white supremacists, and it was incited by President Trump, Republican allies, and all those who have peddled conspiracy theories, hate, and intolerance for years.
It also cannot be lost on us that this is not new. This is, in fact, who we are—a country with a deep and long undercurrent of white supremacist-led violence. A land in which armed white rioters are welcomed as patriots when they lay siege to our Capitol, but Black Americans are murdered in their beds, or while on a jog, or after buying Skittles.
This duality—America’s hopeful promise and its enduring original sin; the fact that a southern state can elect a Jewish millennial and a Black preacher on the same day that the nation endures a Presidentially-incited coup attempt—cannot keep us from doing the hard work to change America.
This week was a mix of emotions, and we should remember all of them. We, at Next100, like so many of you, are hurting. We’re outraged by what has happened. We’re committed to using that outrage in the service of progress.
From its origins, the United States has been a walking contradiction. For decades, our leaders have pledged allegiance to equality and justice for all—values that were neither real nor have since been realized.
It is precisely the times when our darker impulses overtake our better ones when we must redouble our efforts to make America the country we profess to be.
This is one of those times.