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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/10/21

Ibram X. Kendi & Keisha Blain on Impeachment, White Supremacist Violence & Holding Trump Accountable

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As the impeachment trial of Donald Trump proceeds, we speak with two historians about the importance of accountability for the January 6 insurrection and white supremacist attacks in the United States. The scenes of violence at the U.S. Capitol were "familiar" to Black people, says Ibram X. Kendi, author, professor and founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. "We have consistently, over the course of 400 years, faced white supremacist mob violence."

We also speak with Keisha Blain, an author and associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, who says Trump must be held accountable for inciting the Capitol insurrection. "We cannot hold back and play games here," she says. "Whatever decision we make in this moment will determine the future of this nation."


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Donald Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. Now the question is if he will be convicted in his Senate trial. And if he is, will they prevent him from running again for federal office?

To talk more about this historic moment, we're joined by two historians, who have just edited a book that puts the white supremacists who rallied around Trump into the longer arc of U.S. history. The book is titled Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019. It brings together prominent Black writers to collaborate on what they call a "choral history" of Black American life. Keisha Blain is an associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh. And Ibram X. Kendi is director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research,, where he's the Andrew W. Mellon professor in the humanities. Professor Kendi is co-editor of the new book, along with Keisha Blain.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Professor Kendi, as you listen to and watch that video, which we have seen a number of times in the past since January 6th, though there was new video that we haven't seen, and as the days go by, we will see more video of what took place, the Confederate flags, the horror, can you put this into the context of the history you've looked at, American history for the last 400 years?

IBRAM X. KENDI: Well, first, Amy, thank you so much for having us on the show.

And for me, as someone who has lived and sat in African American history, in many ways, those images, that video, what happened on January 6th, was also familiar to me, was also familiar to Black folks, because indeed when we have exercised our rights to vote, when we have exercised our rights to take office, when we have exercised our rights to be free, we have consistently, over the course of 400 years, faced white supremacist mob violence, over and over and over again. And then, those who incited the violence, typically, over and over and over again, were not held accountable.

JUAN GONZÃ LEZ: Yeah, and, Ibram Kendi, I wanted to ask you specifically about this issue of mob violence, because so many people here in the United States are treating this as an unprecedented event, but, as you mentioned, there's many examples throughout American history of mob violence by white mobs. I think of the Charleston...the burning of the Charleston post office in 1834 by a mob that was trying to seize abolitionist literature that was going through the South; the riots during the Civil War of whites attacking the Black community over the drafting of folks to fight in the Union Army; even 1962, the riots at University of Mississippi, hundreds of whites, armed, having shootouts with federal marshals protecting James Meredith's effort to desegregate the University of Mississippi. So, what do you think has touched so much a large part of America in terms of this particular this particular example of mob violence?

IBRAM X. KENDI: I think the unfortunate fact is that those other cases of mob violence, the victims of that violence were Black folks, were Indigenous folks, were Latinx folks, were not the citadel of America. And so white Americans oftentimes did not see themselves as the victims of those mobs, even though the victims of those mobs were Americans and they should have seen themselves. And if we can collectively see ourselves through you know, as victims of these mobs, I think we would have a better country. But the way in which we're able to do that is we gain a better understanding of African American history, which is why it was so crucial for Keisha Blain and I to put together Four Hundred Souls.

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