Georgia made history this week: The state elected a black senator for the first time on Tuesday. Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Morehouse graduate who serves as the senior pastor of the famous Ebenezer Baptist Church, once founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Georgia will represent Georgia in the Senate once the results are confirmed. Coupled with the victory of his Georgian compatriot Jon Ossoff, the Senate, as well as the House and Presidency, will be in democratic hands.
Unfortunately, a different type of story was also written this week when an angry, violent crowd of mostly white Trump supporters broke into the Capitol, breaking windows, demolishing private offices and violating public spaces. With the encouragement of the man who held the highest office in the country, the mob forced our elected officials to flee the House and Senate as they carried out the constitutionally required certification of the 2020 presidential election. The people who carried out this attack on our democracy were fueled by misinformation, largely from the President himself: the dead had voted, the voting machines had somehow changed votes, the elections were rigged, and the widespread fraud had transferred the presidency to Biden . But they also acted on a different kind of misinformation, a different kind of lie – a lie that obliterates the genius and contributions of blacks, a lie that ignores the fact that it was black hands that made America what it is, this unpaid black work built the very buildings that serve as the seat of our democracy. They have been fueled by the lie that is white supremacy.
If we are to move beyond the deadlock that has been our political destiny for years, we must face this lie that is deeply ingrained in all of our public life. On this week’s show, your hosts Melissa Harris-Perry and Dorian Warren are conducting a systems audit of the fundamentals of our policy.
Our guest and guide this week is Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Associate Professor of History at Ohio State University, where he teaches courses on Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. He reminds us that the violence we saw at the Capitol this week is not an anomaly – in fact, political violence gave birth to this nation. The American Revolution, the Civil War, the brutal suppression of the reconstruction and the strong resistance to the civil rights movement and political violence have long been used to maintain white supremacy in this country. And too often black freedom of choice and emancipation were exchanged in order to avoid further political violence. But Jeffries points us to a way to hold the people – whether they are the people who stormed the Capitol or the politicians who inspired them – accountable for their political violence and recognize the full contributions of black Americans and to be honored in our republic.
Our final word this week goes to Blair Kelley, Associate Professor of History at North Carolina State University. System check Listeners will remember Kelley from Episode 2 where she gave us a deeply personal perspective on voter repression – this week she reminds us of all black workers who have asserted their right to participate more often than in a political system not thwarted and their input devalued. It is our job to honor their heritage.
The System Check Team turns the analysis into action and offers listeners three action elements this week:
- Take Action: The politicians who supported and facilitated the week’s attack on democracy must be held accountable. Professor Hasan Kwame Jeffries’ brother, Representative Hakeem Jeffriesbelongs to a chorus of politicians who came out today calling for President Trump’s impeachment. Add your name as a co-signer of Bill from Representative Cori Bush to investigate and Identify members of Congress who fueled the storm on the Capitoland help to shift the balance of power in the Senate, the most unequal of the institutions, by Tell your agents to make Washington, D.C. the 51st state.
- Find out: How do we tackle misinformation? By continuing to educate ourselves. This week’s political violence was no coincidence, it is a clear response to the ongoing political gains made this year, facilitated by the work of black women from Stacey Abrams back to Fannie Lour Hamer. Check out Jeffries moves TedTalk, mentioned on today’s show. Listen to the Reverend Warnock speech after his loss to Senator Kelly Loeffler, to learn how the son of a woman who picked someone else’s cotton can become a US Senator.
- Observe: And while you’re at it, treat yourself to something Elizabeth Alexander’s full reading of “Song of Praise for the Day” at the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009.
As always, we look forward to your additions to our checklist! Use our Twitter and Facebook Pages to add your comments, suggested actions, and supporting organizations. And if you like the show Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Spotifyor wherever you get your podcasts for new episodes every Friday.
System check is a project of The nation Magazine by Melissa Harris-Perry and Dorian Warren, produced by Sophia Steinert-Evoy. support for System check comes from Omidyar Network, a social change company that is redefining the way capitalism works. Learn about their efforts to align our economy for the good of the individual, community and society Omidyar.com. Our executive producer is Frank Reynolds. Our themed music comes from a Brooklyn based artist and producer Jachary.
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