I have been sitting in front of this blank page for a couple of hours, watching all the commentaries and analysis on the attempted coup on January 6. Honestly, it has been everything but surprising. And I know it’s a strong statement that most would not agree. But as a student of political science and conflict resolution, I know this was not an accident. What happened in Capitol Hill was a result of many years of fueling division and promoting a dangerous narrative.
In the recent past, election results have made me angry and disillusioned. Even as a US citizen of 16 years, I felt like my experience and wellbeing didn’t matter. The full weight of the hate against minorities was being reassured by the electoral college. I was at a complete loss. I expressed my feelings loud and clear, bringing many to question my patriotism and called me hateful.
When 9/11 happened, I had recently arrived to the US and was a High School junior. The horrible events of that day shaped my perspective, as much as it did on many others. Like many others from our generation, I felt a sense of nationalism so high that it transcended parties and racial division. But over the years, policies implemented over the different administrations closed doors for many and helped build the narrative of us vs. them. Them (or me) being the racial minorities in the country. What was labeled an attack against the anglo lifestyle. The founding principles of this nation. I became a citizen on February 13, 2018. In part with an urgency to act. To help our disenfranchised minorities gain a voice.
Politics can be complicated.
Life carried on for many, while the divisiveness piled up. Our stand as the most powerful nation in the world is fragile and everything happening at the local level showed more and more the signs of civil unrest we see in conflict zones. I would know—I grew up in Colombia. Unfortunately, this was only visible to a few which made it easy for many to ignore. Many of us were called overdramatic. The nation was more than that and the institutions were strong. There was a common belief was that the spoilers were few and under control.
I have had many conversations with friends and several have encouraged me to talk to the other side and try to understand their point of view. To reconcile with my fellow citizens. I tried and will continue to. I want to show my children that political conversations are necessary.
Living in DC makes all of this even more real. The happenings in government are our everyday lives and we see first hand the way our country responds. DC is the headquarters of the first amendment. Protests are part of our every day lives. As a family with young children, we have cautiously joined some of them. Talking to our children about our right to a peaceful protest and what this means as Americans. Unfortunately, we have also witnessed the violence that erupts from both sides of the debate. For the past months, first amendment central has become grounds for civil unrest. As our mayor in DC has stated, first amendment demonstrations have become more complex over the past four years.
This was not an accident.
The attempted coup on January 6, 2020 was no surprise, but it was still shocking. The attempt to undermine the will of the American people was a chronicle of a death foretold. Our city knew what we were about to witness and our residents took the precautions needed. Had it not been for those warnings, many innocent people would have suffered violent confrontations from the mob that marched through our streets.
The next week and a few days are going to be challenging for DC residents. We know the disruption a mob can bring to our streets. A peaceful transition of power doesn’t seem possible but after the event on Wednesday, we will be more prepared knowing what could happen.
The sun has come out once again in DC. But we have a long way to go before we can reclaim our peace. When our children could once again ride our bicycles around the Capitol, what we call our backyard. And we have an even longer time before we can all come together as Americans, equally protected by our constitution and represented in our government. COVID is not the only pandemic we are facing. We not only need to regain the respect of the world, but make sure that in the process we acknowledge our differences and finally create a country for all, and we need the insurgent groups to understand. We owe this to our children.