I’m no tactician, but I know that tactics are neutral in themselves—Nazi soldiers blowing up a bridge in occupied France to stop an Allied advance is despicable; partisans blowing up the bridge to prevent the Nazis from overwhelming a village and slaughtering its inhabitants is both defensible and righteous. So it is with insurrections: the goals and purposes matter. January 6, 2021 was a white supremacist insurrection against state power—part of a long American tradition that includes the secessionist insurrection of 1861, the uprising by the White League seeking to overthrow the biracial Reconstruction government of Louisiana in 1894, the violent toppling of the government in Wilmington North Carolina in 1898, and more. Each of these insurrections was in naked defense of white power. By contrast, the Haitian and Cuban revolutions, for example, were emancipatory insurrections designed to move human society forward. We’re joined today by legendary freedom fighter Daphne Muse whose life in struggle—from the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Pan-Africanist Movements to the fights for women’s liberation and disability rights— illuminates while it inspires.
Clifton’s meditation on America and Americans, history and reality, fear, and hope—and remembering Childish Gambino’s provocative music video called “This is America,” write your own poem, chant, video, essay, lecture, speech, commencement address, incantation, exhortation, or short story with the title: THIS IS AMERICA. OK, start writing!