Screen grab of insurrectionists at the Capitol

Sadly, yes: this is who we are

Time to face the truth

Kaila Colbin
5 min readJan 8, 2021


“This is not who we are,” said Joe Biden on Wednesday, as armed insurrectionists freely roamed the Capitol:

Let me be very clear: The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America. Do not represent who we are. What we’re seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness.

I like Joe Biden. I’m glad he won the election. I want him to de-escalate, to soothe, to uplift. I want him to empower the better angels of our nature.

I also want him to speak the truth. I want him to face with relentless discipline the reality of the society he has just been certified to preside over as President.

I want him to lead.

Because the truth is that this is who we are.

@drakegatsby: If everybody says “this is not who we are” then who was doing all that

What happened at the Capitol was horrifying. Shocking. Heartbreaking.

But eminently unsurprising.

@colvinj: The Rioters Who Took Over The Capitol Have Been Planning Online In The Open For Weeks

According to a YouGov poll taken the day of the siege, one in five registered voters “strongly or somewhat” supported the storming of the Capitol. Among Republicans, that number jumps to 45%.

26% of registered voters — one in four — think Joe Biden is “a great deal or somewhat to blame” for the attack. 52% of Republican voters think so.

This is not a small group of disaffected extremists. This is not fringe.

And, if we ignore the underlying causes, we’re going to see it again — and worse.

We need to have the courage to admit what should by now be painfully obvious:

White supremacy is the beating heart of this movement.

@NoahCaine: to make it here without dying is the epitome of white privilege

This is the National Guard on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the Black Lives Matter protests in Washington this past June.

The National Guard protecting the Lincoln Memorial during BLM protests in June
Martha Raddatz/ABC News

This is the Capitol police taking selfies with the insurrectionists this week:

@bubbaprog: Cops are taking selfies with the terrorists

White supremacy is predominantly but not exclusively about race. It’s about a belief in inherent superiority.

This is a woman being ripped out of her wheelchair for protesting the so-called “Trumpcare” bill in 2017:

@mattmfm: A horrific metaphor for Trumpcare: this disabled woman literally being ripped from her wheelchair

This is one of the insurrectionists being helped down the stairs by a police officer this week:

@therecount: One of the pro-Trump rioters on the Capitol steps gets a hand down the stairs from a DC police officer.

Yes, these images are selective. But they are indicative.

And, yes, a woman was shot. She was shot invading the Capitol building.

According to a 2020 Columbia Law School study, “Black suspects are more than twice as likely to be killed by police than are persons of other racial or ethnic groups; even when there are no other obvious circumstances during the encounter that would make the use of deadly force reasonable.”

How many insurrectionists would have been shot and killed if they were from Black Lives Matter?

@michaelharriot: The mere fact that ONLY 1 white woman was shot proves how privileged they were.

What is surprising is not that she was shot, but that the police response was not quicker — and bigger. Why wasn’t the National Guard there to begin with? There was ample warning that this was going to happen. Why weren’t the Capitol police prepared with bigger numbers, better barricades, nonlethal weapons?

After several hours, when the insurrectionists were finally dispersed — and, yes, they used tear gas — one of them accidentally said the quiet part out loud: “This is not America. They’re shooting at us. They’re supposed to shoot BLM, but they’re shooting the patriots.”

@TheNation: “They’re shooting at us. They’re supposed to shoot BLM, but they’re shooting the patriots.”

It’s not that this is not who we are. It’s that we don’t want to admit who we are. As Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr’s daughter, said, “denial won’t make the injustices and inhumane ideologies less so.”

@BerniceKing: We need to stop saying “This is not who we are” in “America.” We can’t change without truth.

Let’s be clear: Donald Trump is absolutely responsible for this week’s events. As the always excellent political analyst Isaac Saul wrote, “He is the first and only president ever to lie so brazenly, so incessantly, so relentlessly, with so little regard for the dangers of his lies that even watching his supporters storm a building full of his colleagues could not bring him to condemn their actions.”

But it would be dangerous to think that his departure from the office of the President puts an end to the story.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that once he’s gone we can stop thinking about why this happened.

Especially do not make the mistake of thinking we don’t have to examine our own complicity.

As I wrote back in June, “I call myself racist because it is virtually impossible to have been raised white in America and not have drunk the racism.”

I share this because if, as white people, we cannot face our own complicity in this system of racism, we will never dismantle it.
I share this to invite other white people to stop working so hard to pretend we are untouched, that the stink of racism hasn’t somehow permeated our every pore.
If we don’t acknowledge the stink, we can’t do what’s necessary to get clean.

The work of justice continues. The work of equity continues. The work of calling out racism, in ourselves and others, in our systems and institutions, continues.

As Martin Luther King Jr said, we need that peace that is “not merely the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.”

And the only way we can create the presence of justice is by accepting the truth for what it is.

@TheHyyyype: joe biden: this is not america. everyone else: image of Childish Gambino from “This is America” music video



Kaila Colbin

Founder/CEO Boma. Dual citizen USA/NZ. Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator. Just wants the world to be a better place.