Understanding the events of Jan. 6 through the lens of race and class

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Screenshot from the discussion titled: “Understanding January 6: The Far Right and the Politics of Race and Class”. Multiple professors and members of the UConn community were invited to share their perspective about what factors led to the Capitol insurrection.

The Capitol insurrection had and will continue to have a lasting impact on the political climate in the United States. The events that transpired on Jan. 6 have since resulted in hundreds of arrests, as well as the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump. Though he was recently acquitted, Republicans have spoken out against the former president and the actions he took in the days and hours leading up to the riot.  

To fully understand why the events of Jan. 6 took place, it is important to study and analyze the situation from many different angles and points of view. In a discussion titled “Understanding January 6: The Far Right and the Politics of Race and Class,” Daniel Martinez HoSang, an associate professor of American studies and ethnicity, race and migration at Yale University, and Joseph Lowndes, a political science professor at the University of Oregon, were invited to speak to members of the UConn community to share their perspective about what factors led to the Capitol insurrection.  

HoSang and Lowndes co-authored the book “Producers, Parasites, and Patriots: Race and the New Right-Wing Politics of Precarity,” in which they argue that race and class are inherently linked, especially when looking at groups that are traditionally associated with whiteness. Additionally, their book describes the changing role of race in right-wing politics and how racial subordination is an enduring feature of the political history of the United States. 

“We can’t just think of white supremacy as simply just animus…White supremacy in the United States has always operated in more complicated ways,” HoSang said. 

HoSang spoke about how domination works in complicated ways, which is why, he said, white supremacy cannot be defined by individualistic feelings. Rather, one must look at the entire set of politics associated with it to understand what the term means. 

“It assumes hierarchy is inevitable … and that part of the job of the polity and of the state is to find those that are degraded and prevent them from spoiling the nation,” HoSang said. “But those lines are permeable in terms of who might be incorporated into that project of national defense.” 

One of the topics that was discussed was understanding what leads to the presence of people of color joining the ranks of “white nationalists” and other groups that traditionally uphold rhetoric that regards people of color as the enemy. HoSang spoke about how people of color who serve as leaders of far-right groups and organizations are often assumed to be “props” who have lost their own sensibility. However, he argues that the racial significance of these figures is profound to their following and their base of supporters and offers an “ethical bearing.” 

The hierarchies that exist within society today are complex and deeply engrained in the social and political history of the United States and can be categorized by various aspects such as race and class. These hierarchies have led to decades of political unrest and a lack of understanding of the “other” side, which has caused the United States to become a highly polarized nation in need of unification. 

“I think we have to keep in our minds that we want to find the possibilities of commonality, the possibilities of shared political visions, while also really being clear that different forms of hierarchy and domination affect different people differently.”

“I think we have to keep in our minds that we want to find the possibilities of commonality, the possibilities of shared political visions, while also really being clear that different forms of hierarchy and domination affect different people differently,” Lowndes said.  

Following the end of Trump’s presidency and the unprecedented mark he left on his party and the White House, the Republican party and the far-right have a lot of work to do following in terms of finding common ground. This is especially because of the Capitol’s insurrection and the ongoing political strife taking place between members of the party. 

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