Early this week, on January 6, Trump supporters rioted at the Capitol building. They engaged in armed standoffs with police, broke into the Congress offices, took photos and videos of themselves stealing mail, and fighting with Capitol security.
One rioter, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, was killed in the Capitol during the breach. This group of thousands engaged in domestic terrorism. Many of us watched from our homes and offices as videos of some Capitol police taking selfies with rioters were shared across social media. So what happened? Why would some members of Capitol police be enabling rioters to breach the very seat of the U.S. government?
It’s because our nation, our society, was founded on the genocide of Indigenous people and the enslavement and murder of enslaved African people. In its 245 year history, the U.S. government has never taken a firm bipartisan stance of tangible consequence against white nationalism and white terror. And when you build a society that pedestals and promotes hatred of those labeled as the other, everyone loses. Not just Black people, immigrants of color, Indigenous communities, etc., – we all lose when hatred is considered negotiable or understandable.
And the truth is – diversity training won’t fix it. That may come as a surprise to hear from a global change management firm like ours that focuses specifically on building equitable and anti-oppressive cultures in the organization.
Yes, we find training essential in helping people understand their positionality, privilege, healing, commitment to justice, etc. Yet, that’s not the most vital piece of social justice work we have found.
The most vital piece is the work done after initial education. It’s the work invested in changing policy, procedure, and practice in ways that hold organizational communities and individual people accountable for the things they say and do, for the work they invest in disrupting systemic injustice, bias, and inequity not only in the workplace but beyond it.
The U.S. government has to draw a tangible line between itself and white supremacy. Those who hold the most power in this nation have to create conditions for accountability for white nationalism. Training won’t fix it. People have to want to change, to change.
How are you dealing with all of this? We’d love to hear from you. Although yesterday was a very sad day, we wouldn’t be engaged in this work if we didn’t believe that justice and liberation were possible. We’ll continue to monitor what’s happening in our country. We’re right here with you witnessing this act of terrorism and its impacts on our country. We are enraged and frustrated and we want to see this nation put a stop to this systemic violence and hatred.