Recognize: To prepare our classrooms and virtual campus for additional predicted violence surrounding the upcoming Inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on January 20, 2021. Manage what is to yet to come: We must reckon with the violent insurrection we witnessed on our nation’s capitol and remain vigilant beyond 1/20/2020 because white supremacy is a multi-headed hydra, a Gordian knot that folds in and over itself – further obscuring itself. Press forward: And finally, to provide some resources for continued learning and support for working with students.
What we witnessed on Wednesday, January 6 at the electoral vote certification was white rage. The breaching of our halls of government by white domestic terrorists was sedition by a sitting president, an attempted fascist coup, an insurrection, and the epitome of white privilege and white entitlement, The crowd was filled with anti-Semitic imagery and slogans. Not only was Washington DC the site of violence, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the War of 1812, people within our own state tried to gain access to the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia. Governor Inslee has begun preparations to better protect the WA State Capitol Campus. As I type this, the insurrectionists are being charged with federal and state crimes.
I know witnessing the events as they unfolded was alarming for all of us. The overt violence is not how business has traditionally been conducted in our nation’s or state capitols. We are not accustomed to witnessing overt white terrorist anti-Semitic violence in our halls of government. However, I would argue that over these past four years (and through Obama’s presidency, and long prior) we have been witnessing this very violence, albeit veiled by “polite covert racism” rather than the overt racism that was on display last week.
Legislators have spoken out about their experience and the resultant trauma from that day. At least three legislators have contracted COVID, one of whom is a 75 year old cancer survivor. These cases are most likely due to their unmasked Republican colleagues eschewing and mocking wearing a mask in lockdown from the attempted coup during a global pandemic which has claimed the lives of close to 400,000 humans in this country and almost 2 million humans globally.
Many people are experiencing despair and fear, are uncertain about the future, and haven’t been able to imagine a coup happening in this country. Afterall, we are used to staging coups in other countries, not witnessing them on our own soil. Just as we feel the fear, concern, and angst over the future of our country, our students are feeling similar feelings. For many of our students—particularly students of color, Jewish students, Muslim students, immigrant students, and others, they are more vulnerable to the winds of insurrection, white terrorist, and anti-Semitic violence, both covert and overt.
This is likely not the last attempt to overthrow our election results in what is considered one of our most secure elections coming after 60+ court cases challenging the election results were thrown out. White terrorists are publicly planning events for January 17th ahead of inauguration through Inauguration Day. This begs the following questions: how are we prepared to support our students? How will we engage in conversations with our students? How will we engage with one another? How will we, as individuals, navigate these days ahead? And what comes after inauguration? How do we protect the many communities of which we are members? To which our students are members?
In my humble and informed opinion, we cannot move forward without truth and reconciliation which can only come from holding people accountable – from the highest offices in the land to the domestic white terrorists who stormed the Capitol Building. With a death toll of 5 human lives lost in the terrorist melee and many more injured, to the conspiracy theories that got us here, and the growing numbers of hate groups there is much work that lies ahead for each of us individually and communally. Our institutions are challenged to do better as we move forward into this uncertain future, what we choose to do now will have far ranging consequences for how our communities are shaped for and by future generations.
As always, granting yourself and your students grace during this tenuous moment is warranted. Considering moving due dates, allowing late work, holding space for students who are struggling with what is happening in our nation and potentially in our own (or their own) communities are some possibilities. Connecting with colleagues, family and friends, and reaching out for support through the links Human Resources recently sent out can be personally helpful as well.
In thinking about resources, there are so many to list and more being pumped out daily. I’ve created some categories that individuals can dive into on their own, explore with their students, or use to supplement their curriculum or their own learning. In many ways these resources are not mutually exclusive nor all inclusive. There is a lot of history to reckon with and not nearly enough time for any of us to know everything there is to know. However, to truly lead with racial equity, we must begin that journey.
- The National Holocaust Memorial Museum
- The National Museum of African American History and Culture
- The National Museum of the American Indian
- The 1619 Project
- The 1619 Project Podcast
- Facing History
- The Freedom Archives
- The Black Panther Party Legacy and Alumni
- Let America Be America Again
- The Elie Wiesel Foundation
- The Equal Justice Initiative
Teaching the Day After
- Deterring Authoritarian Populism: Imperatives for Higher Education
- Teaching About Race When There Are Only a Few BIPOC Students in Class
- We Can’t Gaslight Students About the Capitol Riot. We Can Use it as a Teaching Tool.
- Storming the Capitol: How to Talk to Students
- Resources for Talking to Students About Politics, Civic Engagement, and Uncertainty
- The Assault on the Capitol in Historical Perspective: Resources for Educators
- From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces
Understanding What Happened on 1/6
- The Politics of Oppression and Resistance Appropriation
- The American Abyss
- Denial is the Heartbeat of America
- But What Will We Tell the Children?
- What Happened?
- How One of America’s Ugliest Days Unraveled Inside and Outside the Capitol
- Our Statement On the Assault On the Capitol
- The Center for Media Literacy
- The Newseum
- Evaluating Sources
Truth and Reconciliation
Anti-Black Racism Resources