capitol riots, civil war, sarah williams

2021 is 1861

The precipice Amerikkka finds itself on in 2021 is a hemorrhaging wound that has festered since 1861 and inflicted repeatedly since the 1600s. The twisted lies and delusional illusions of racist white supremacy, whether about stolen elections or the perceived inferiority of melinated people ordained by a white Jesus that is literally a figment of the imagination have spread “strange fruit” across the globe. We have yet to bring an end to this evil that brings us to this current Anthropocene.

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln was elected as president and confederate, white supremacist supporting states fearing the loss of slavery as a lawful institution of forced labor and brutality, seceded from the Union and thus began the Civil War. In 2021, Republican elected officials and its base of white supremacists, fearing the loss of political power in the hegemonic heteropatriarchal white nationalist capitalist power structure at the hands of voting black and brown people, committed a deadly act of insurrection on our nation’s Capitol. 

2021 is 1861.

After the Civil War, America made an insufficient attempt at Reconstruction to address the inequalities lingering from chattel slavery’s “strange fruit.” White Supremacy’s response was the Klu Klux Klan and Jim Crow. The KKK and Jim Crow laws would reign violence, terror, segregation, oppression, and marginalization on black people until the 1960’s. The 1960s would usher in the continued war on black people through the War on Poverty and the War on Drugs and the continued construction of government sanctioned housing projects ensuring segregation and marginalization BIPOC.

2021 is 1861 because we find ourselves at the same precipice of facing the demons of white supremacy that must be uprooted from our society and culture, systems and institutions. Black people are still getting murdered by police aka slave patrols; our communities, education, and healthcare remain underfunded and subpar; the welfare of our communities is dependent on the non profit industrial complex passing out crumbs from the table inside the burning house; the mass incarceration of black people in the prison industrial complex surpasses the number of people enslaved in 1850; and black mothers and babies face death rates higher than when our bodies and children were considered property of the slave owning whites. 2021 is 1861 and white supremacsts and their supporters have fired the first shots in the continuation of the Civil War of 1861. 

2021 is 1861 and we must not repeat the same mistake of enacting laws of equality and justice within a culture and society with systems and institutions still dictated by and dedicated to upholding the illusions of white supremacy. No one committed to complete liberation from such delusions should be pacified by “healing” without accountability. 

The survival of life itself on this planet depends on dismantling the hegemonic heteropatriarchal white nationalist power structure birthed five centuries ago when people, land, and resources became a commodity to be exploited, perfecting the delusion and illusion to create a collective amnesia of the indigenous wisdom that all life is a single breathing tissue.

What must be fundamentally different in this moment to every historically parallel moment is collective and unadulterated accountability of white supremacy aka “whiteness” and anyone who participates in its functioning and perpetration. Accountability includes “accepting responsibility” and accounting “for one’s actions.” This requires the following steps:

  1. The hegemonic heteropatriarchal white nationalist power structure and its benefactors and supporters must accept responsibility for coddling, nurturing, and birthing the delusional illusions of racism white supremacy. 
  2. A critical mass of people must commit to calling out “whiteness”, racism white supremacy whenever and however it exists within our society and culture and our systems and institutions.
  3. No longer is inaction or complacent indifference a placid platitude pacifying a seething illness metastasizing over the past five centuries. If all the outrage and horror at the display of “whiteness” in the white supremacist’s insurrection is real beyond “the affective aspect of consciousness” aka emotion, we must find the resolve to do what we have failed to do since 1776 when this country acknowledged the fundamental truth that “all men are created equal, that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and abolish white supremacy.
  4. This Amerikkkan Revolution to become an America where “justice is what love looks like in public,” is fundamentally spiritual. We must shift from the rationalized European mindset that separates the parts from the whole, thus viewing people, land, and resources as property to be owned, conquered, developed, and colonized to birthing the remembrance embedded in the 5 generations of ancestral memory in our DNA, that all life is interconnected and only with Love and Love’s enduring respect of all life can we shift our ways of being towards collective liberation and sustainability of all life. 

By these spiritual acts, the dismantling of the system of white supremacy and the uprooting of the hate breed by the false social construct of Amerikkkan whiteness will be complete.

2021 is 1861 and the real, hard question each of us must answer within ourselves for collective healing in this moment from the ills of white supremacy is, do we Love the essence of ourselves literally made from stardust (“matter is the skin of spirit”) to no longer live in ways that requires our sense of self worth, self-love to be extracted from the illusions of the social construct of white supremacy and its systems and institutions?

“The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations that we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep inside of us.”

– Audre Lorde

“If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”

 – James Baldwin.

“Love as ‘the will to extend one’s self for the the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.’ Love is as love does. Love is an act of will–namely, both an intention and an action.” 

– bell hooks

Sarah Williams is Community Activist, Civic Change Agent, and Co-Founder of Cooperation Lexington and Peoples Blueprint