KENDI: Gen Z’s Humorous Response to the Capitol Riots & How We’ve Learned to Cope

When I first saw the videos and images of white supremacists storming the US Capitol, I laughed.

As an 18-year-old, I’m from the generation of kids who uses humor to cope.

When our schools were threatened with bombs and mass shootings, we played games of tag in the building basement to alleviate stress and pass the time. When the 2020 presidential election tension rose so high there was talk of a civil war, we made memes about what outfits we’d wear to the battles.

To see domestic terrorists waving Trump 2020 flags as they brushed past police officers into what should be one of the most secure buildings in the world, felt like nothing more than one big joke.

Within minutes of the serious news reports came the Twitter cracks and Instagram posts to combat the grave feelings of insecurity that were quickly spreading across the country. In between updates on how far the rioters had gotten, which senators were safe and the not-so- shocking lack of police intervention came the jokes.

“Name a place with tighter security than the Capitol” reads one viral tweet followed by an array of hilarious answers.

“Black hair products at CVS”

“Trader Joes during the pandemic”

“My google account when I log in from another device”

The replies were endless.

In the midst of what is seriously one of the most frightening and unstable times in the history of our country, young people found the humor in it.

Of course, there were moments of devastation.

I remember seeing a video of a police officer in riot gear holding the hand of a woman who was a part of the attack as she climbed down the Capitol stairs. A police officer tasked with protecting that building and those inside helped a person who had threatened it’s safety.

I immediately thought of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot by police seven times in front of his children and will now live the rest of his life paralyzed from the waist down. The officer who shot him will not even be charged. It was a devastating conclusion to have confirmed that, yes, police violence has EVERYTHING to do with race.

Everything.

Yet, that devastation can only take over my emotions for so long. If I let every confirmation that this country is built against my people weigh me down, I would never be able to stand and fight against it.

So we laugh to keep from dying.

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