America, This is Exactly Who We Are

Tess Martin
4 min readJan 10, 2021
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Last week, I watched an angry white mob storm the heart of our nation’s capital in an attempt to subvert the will of millions of voters. These people came armed, not just with weapons, but with an innate sense of entitlement endowed by their skin color, a certainty swimming in their blood that they could livestream what they were doing with no fear of repercussion. I watched in horror and fury as the foundation of our fragile democracy trembled beneath thousands of angry footfalls, unsure if it would hold after the last four tumultuous years.

In the wake of this failed insurrection, I watched dozens of public figures proclaim that we are better than this as a country, that this is not who we are. There were social media posts aplenty making similar pronouncements, such that they became a persistent drumbeat that was impossible to ignore. Unfortunately, these hearty arguments and entreaties were little more than feel good bullshit.

America, this is exactly who we are.

I’m not sure what part of our history these folks are referring to when they make sweeping judgments that we, collectively, are better than whatever terrible event just occurred. The hundreds of years of chattel slavery? The horrors inflicted upon indigenous people, including genocide, land theft, and broken treaties? Jim Crow? Redlining? The War on Drugs? Internment camps during WWII? Women treated as second class citizens? The exclusion of the LGBTQ community? Lynchings?

Stop me when I get to the parts that prove what we’ve always been wasn’t on full display when hundreds of terrorists invaded the Capitol Building the other day.

Listen, I think America is the land of endless promise. It’s something on which the Founding Fathers and I are in complete agreement. The country is at its greatest during the times when we inch closer to its founding promise, the one that says everyone is entitled to a life lived freely and with dignity. But we are not that country all the time. We need to accept that, because lasting change doesn’t occur unless we do. Pretending that we are better than we’ve proven ourselves to be throughout our history is disingenuous and self-defeating. The idea of America is a shining beacon of freedom and equality recognized across the globe. The reality of America is much less…

Tess Martin

I’m a writer, runner, functional introvert, and herder of cats. Find me at or on Facebook @ theundercoverintrovert.