By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
In his book, Second Reconstruction, the Rev. Dr. William Barber describes how every time Black people in this country have made political and economic advances, angry Whites attack their very progress by resorting to mob violence and intimidation to undo the work. After the first Reconstruction, which came after the Civil War, horrific violence has been recorded, with White people taking Black people out of their homes in the thick of night, torturing them, and many times, setting fire to their property, forcing them to flee their homes in order to stay alive the American Experience on PBS revealed.
The Second Reconstruction happened began after World War II and extended until the end of the ’60s. From 1945 until 1968, there was a campaign of terror waged against Black people, even and including those who had fought in the country’s wars. Thousands of Blacks were lynched, entire cities and communities were destroyed, and the courts worked against Black people having full political rights as Whites voiced outrage over small steps that Blacks were taking to enjoy full rights owed them as American citizens, as recorded in The Civil Rights Movement And The Second Reconstruction, 1945-1968 published by the Office of Art and Archives.
The Third Reconstruction might be said to have been ignited by the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, as well as predictions that the United States was on a course to be a non-White majority country by the mid-2000s.
We are now in what might be called the Third Deconstruction. Under the leadership of the current president, hateful, racist rhetoric has been spewed almost continually for the past four years, appealing to White people, angry again because of what they see as partial treatment toward Blacks, too many people of color entering the country and a sense of detachment from the government as concerns their voices.
Their anger has been stoked by the president even more since the November election, where he lost the presidency to Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. It is as though he had a premonition that he would lose, because early in 2020, he said that if he were to lose the election, it would be because the election was rigged, The Hill reported. Although it has gotten little mention, it has been his pattern to say that when he has lost elections in the past, it has been because the election was rigged. It is his pattern, according to an ABC News report. Sen. Ted Cruz was crushed by Trump’s “rigged” rhetoric in Iowa in 2016, a fact that has not diluted Cruz’s undying loyalty to the president at the present time. In that race, he called for a new election, The Guardian noted. Nothing he is doing now is a departure from what he has always done.
And neither is what the White mobs doing a departure from what they’ve done. White mobs have always opposed the right of Black people to vote, and committed vicious and heinous acts of violence against not only those Black people who registered to vote but also against those who dared to register them. The examples of mob violence for this very reason are too many to mention here, but as a point of reference, Vernon Dahmer was targeted because he registered people to vote; an angry White mob attacked his home in the middle of the night, setting it on fire and destroying the livelihood of that family. Fannie Lou Hamer was beat to within a hair of her life for daring to register to vote. She suffered from her injuries for the rest of her life.
In all these instances of White mob violence, there has been little to no police protection for Black people. Often, police and sheriffs were a part of the mob, as were judges, attorneys and others involved in law enforcement. If White people were arrested for their violence, they more often than not were let go without being sent to jail. Black lives did not matter and have not mattered, historically.
And so now here we sit, in the midst of the Third Deconstruction. The White mobs came out. They were encouraged by the president and attacked the Capitol building with guns, lead pipes, crutches and, of course, guns. Law enforcement was scanty, in spite of plenty of warning that a large demonstration of angry Whites would be in the city. Some officers, it seems, helped the mob breach the Capitol; others attended to rioters who had been hit by tear gas; yet another allowed himself to be in a selfie with a rioter.
Meanwhile, the violence will continue; it will most probably grow worse. Black bodies will be sacrificed again, and we will not be able to depend on law enforcement, as in the past, for protection. Those who murder and loot and destroy our property and take our lives will be able to do so with little pushback from “the law.”
Hopefully, I will be proven wrong. Hopefully, some of our White allies, who saw with their own eyes the disparity in policing given to Whites and Blacks, will be inclined to work to help change the society of the privileged and help bring justice to those who need it.
If not, this Deconstruction will be as tragic and as murderous as were the last two, and will be a testament that this American democracy is unable to be what it claims to be and that will be the end of what is and has been called “the American experiment.”
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. Her latest book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America is available at all booksellers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.