Last week, conservative right-wing Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, a conservative right-wing, and Congressman Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat, engaged in a discourse that evolved into a heated confrontation outside of the Capitol.
The day after the verbal altercation Greene went on a rant stating that she felt intimidated by Congressman Bowman. She even went as far as to say that him calling her out as a white supremacist is as bad as calling a person of color the N-word.
"Jamaal Bowman [was] shouting at the top of his lungs, cursing, calling me a horrible … calling me a white supremacist which I take great offense to that... It’s like calling a person of color the N-word, which should never happen. Calling me a white supremacist is equal to that. That is wrong," she said.
It's not uncommon for politicians to have heated discussions surrounding topics or issues that impact their constituents. However, what was initially perceived as a normal debate with a colleague on the other side of the aisle turned into a race-baited dogwhistle, signaling the type of fear and hatred that results in public lynchings.
Let's be clear, there is no word that will ever be comparable to the N-word. While there are slurs that have been used throughout time affecting many marginalized groups of people, each word has its own weight that cannot be diminished. How disrespectful must one be to believe otherwise? Let's stop trying to find false equivalencies. Additionally, it's important that we call out behaviors as we see them, in real time—just like Congressman Bowman did. Like the great Maya Angelou said, "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." Many Republicans who are in community with Congresswoman Greene have revealed their true colors to us, the people, repeatedly, and without fail. When will we call out the bad actors and hold them accountable for their words?
"We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist."James Baldwin
The skewed narratives that Taylor Greene chooses to spew, time and time again, prove who she is, what she is capable of and her outlook on our democracy from the vantage point of her prestigious position. Yet, how rich is it that she accuses Congressman Bowman of such intimidation when she has a documented track record of being verbally indecent towards her fellow politicians?
We are already living in such a treacherously lawless time, in which, far too often, Black people are unjustly criminalized by white Karens, who held themselves as "victims." Historically, the words of white women have held a particular heftiness that sinks upon the shoulders of Black folks, especially Black men. Think Emmett Till or think of a few weeks ago when a white woman accused a Black teenager of stealing a Citi bike that they both rented around the same time.
There is a sharp stinger of race-fueled bigotry lodged so deeply into our country's anatomy that there is no cure in its current condition. As a result, the virus of white bigotry has been manipulated and developed such an exacting manner in our nation that many believe it is a viable enough solution to "heal" our country and "make it great."
Nonetheless, in the midst of the rise of generative AI-manipulated images and videos, racist legislation banning Black history and what feels like infinite instances of chaos worldwide, we must continue to demand that folks stand for truth, no matter the optics.
There is nothing wrong with having an ideological disagreement with another. The First Amendment grants us all the freedom of free speech—and, that's one of the reasons to love our country. However, as James Baldwin said so succinctly, "We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist."