We Need to Hold Corporate Enablers Accountable for the White Supremacist Insurgency at the Capitol

Rashad Robinson
·4 min read
Supporters of President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 Electoral College vote certification.
Supporters of President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 Electoral College vote certification.

On Wednesday, our country witnessed what happens when we fail to address and reconcile a history of racial terror, white privilege and racial discrimination in our society. This brazen act of domestic terrorism further illustrates how corporate enablers and an out-of-control administration can create an incredibly dangerous climate for all Americans, and for our democracy itself.

As we process our anger and disappointment, it’s important to remember President Trump didn’t build this following of dangerous, blind support on his own. Right-wing politicians, police departments, mainstream media, corporate leaders and social media platforms have enabled and defended the pro-Trump extremist groups we saw enacting violence in our Capitol yesterday.

Read more

Republican politicians—like Ted Cruz, Tommy Tuberville, Josh Hawley and Mick Mulvaney—instigated this moment. The very lawmakers who had to evacuate and hide under their chairs are the ones who refused to check Trump because they believed his racist policies and tax cuts for the rich helped their election chances. Now those same politicians are trying to condemn the very violence they stoked.

The media followed suit, broadcasting fraudulent claims and adding fuel to the fire. The trend has continued even on Wednesday as right-wing pundits, searching to shirk any responsibility, were making up false claims that yesterday’s white supremacist insurrection is somehow Black activists’ fault. Corporate advertisers continue to enable them by undicerningly funding these misinformed, dangerous media shows.

Meanwhile, social media companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube ignored warnings from Color Of Change and other civil rights groups about the dangers of white supremacists, far-right conspiracists, and racist militias that have been using their platforms to organize and recruit members for years. Leaders of these companies have allowed misinformation to run rampant on their channels, despite the fact that these posts broke their own platform rules.

Facebook allowed far-right extremists to use the network to organize #StopTheSteal rallies that spread misinformation that delegitimize the election results. Twitter provided Trump with a megaphone to manipulate and misinform millions, inspire hate crimes, and embolden violent white supremacist terrorism, including Wednesday’s insurgency until it was too late. While the companies finally listened to our demands, blocking Trump from Twitter for 12 hours, the long-term impact of their failure to implement their own rules remains.

Then there are corporations like JP Morgan Chase and Stripe that are clearly enablers as they continue to profit from white nationalists who process donations on their platforms.

If these corporate failures weren’t enough, It goes without saying that Wednesday also exposed a clear and, at this point, well-known contradiction in American policing. Last year, the largest protest movement in American history demanded justice for Black people who were killed for simply sleeping in their homes, walking down the street, playing in a playground and selling cigarettes. Whenever Black people led protests for justice, the National Guard was on standby with a militarized police force using violent tactics against peaceful groups.

This wanton disregard for Black life and justice stands in stark contrast to the images of police opening up our country’s capital to white supremacist insurgents who vandalized one of the greatest American symbols, took selfies with a mob that planted bombs in one of our most historic sites and allowed domestic terrorists to slowly disperse without any mass arrests. We hear many asking “How did this happen, how did insurgents get into our Capitol?” But to Black communities who have always faced racist policing, the answer is clear: These are the results the system was built to deliver. Instead of more training, more funds and more investigations, we need to stop pouring into a justice system that consistently fails us and instead, invest in systems that will actually keep Black communities, and all Americans safe.

January 20 will mark a new beginning for the country. As power changes hands, the opportunity to deliver on a racial justice agenda is in our grasp. In the wake of COVID-19 and police brutality claiming countless lives, our path to change will only be successful if we build the power to dismantle the structures and systems that harm our lives—racial justice is the clearest path to winning real change. Black people are not the problem: We are the solution and we are being called on to lead. Color Of Change and our 7 million members will work to do just that...until justice is real.

Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change, the largest online racial justice organization in the country. Color Of Change helps people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over 7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America. Visit www.colorofchange.org.