Throughout the coursework portion of my degree, a question I found myself continually asking was: who is the “we?”
The backdrop for my education is a historically black university, were in classes where the entire ambiance was of African-descent, the word fails to surface beyond the implicit. I had the unfortunate, yet pedagogical, the experience of having a racist white professor who habitually employed the word “we” to accompany statements that would prove too revelatory (for him) without it. I also noticed this word use with white classmates who employ the term to seemingly culminate the terrorism embedded in their application and attendance at an HBCU. The “we” mirrored the ways of a domestic terrorist, a methodology that performs with toxic duplicity a covert meaning belied by its overt functionality. On the surface, terror seems inclusionary and to reference a sort of “American terrorism.” However, the African in America has never been an American, a fact elucidated by the HBCU, a fact underscored by the white presence and pseudo inclusion, and echoed in president-elect Joe Biden’s commentary following the insurrection of January 6, 2021.
As the events unfolded on Wednesday, president-elect Biden stated “that’s not who “we” are.” This statement easily engenders inquiry as to who is the “we,” and the response that not only is the insurrection of who this nation is, it’s who this nation has always been.
The “we” here, though seemingly inclusionary, speaks to a white audience, and conveys exactly how president-elect Joe Biden plans to “restore the soul of this nation.” Biden’s proclamation “this is not who we are” articulates that he plans to “restore the soul of this nation” by restoring the optic of whiteness. The words delineate Biden’s plan to “make America great again” by re-anchoring this “greatness” in whiteness. Thus, he needs the Republican party not to complete the portrait of democracy, but to incite a neo-liberalist agenda only complete with a yang to its yin, with a “bad” cop to its “good” cop. The point here is the “we” highlights that “they,” be it the fox or the wolf, the democrat or the republic, the rioters or the liberals, are all irretrievably bad.
By “making whiteness great again,” Joe Biden plans to elucidate what his words meant: that the insurrection is not who “we” white nationalists are. His words articulate that they, white nationalists, have the ability to actualize their supremacy in a more superior manner. His subversive message aligns with a concealed truth, no law legally condemns the domestic terrorism witnessed on Wednesday. In both instances, there is acknowledgment—the government defines the term “domestic terrorist” and Biden acknowledges the act, but both fail to condemn. This ommission conveys the laws themselves, and those selected to enforce them, as existing to ensure that the sky remains the limit for white assault “Americanized” by what will sacrifice white supremacist spaces to preserve the faces that comprise it.