One of D.C.’s wealthiest suburbs marked President’s Day weekend by paying the creator of the 1619 Project $36,000 to excoriate Virginia, the founding fathers, and powerful elites.
McLean, Virginia, is home to the CIA and some of the nation’s top bureaucrats, congress members, lobbyists, and defense contractors, with a median household income of $242,000 and a population that is only 2% black. Hannah-Jones spoke for an hour Sunday at the McLean Community Center, taking home a $36,000 check paid by taxpayers.
The overwhelmingly white audience cheered as Hannah-Jones told them that the rich and powerful use race as a way to pit the working classes against each other to maintain their power and block “redistributionist” policies.
The powerful want you to believe that “if you work hard like them you’ll be rich one day, too. You won’t,” she said. “But if I say everything in our society has been created by government policy, local, state, federal, by private policy, then I start to support policies of redistribution.”
If we think “racial capitalism is shaping our society, then we support different policies,” she said.
The 1619 Project “directly challenges the narrative of American exceptionalism,” she said. “We die earlier, all of us, than the Western industrialized countries that we compare ourselves to. We have the least labor protections, right? We have the greatest income inequality, the worst social safety net.”
America is “the first country they say was founded as an idea and yet we have January 6th and yet we go from the first black president to a pretty openly white nationalist president,” she added.
A focus on the negative seemed to have taken a psychological toll on the author, who, despite being a half-white, half-black woman from Iowa who earned some $1.2 million in speaking fees last year, said “We down here fighting for crumbs” and “My motivation is rage.”
“[I’m told] I should be grateful that I’m not in slavery or I should be grateful that I’m not in apartheid. I just think I just I don’t accept that premise, right, because we have everything in this society to create the society we want and we just make choices not to. So I always say I don’t have hope. I think we will be fighting these fights as long as there’s an America.”
The comments from the New York Times writer — and the attitude among the elite audience — are reminiscent of those from Washington Post writer Taylor Lorenz, who grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, and attended a Swiss boarding school but last week expressed despondency, writing “we’re living in a late stage capitalist hellscape… u have to be delusional to look at life in our country rn [right now] and have any amt [amount] of hope or optimism.”
McLean is the most elite and well-connected town in the state that birthed many of the Founding Fathers, making Jones a notable choice for President’s Day weekend.
“So much of what we are fighting against in our society was architected here,” Hannah-Jones said. “The true heart of America was Virginia … The primary drafters of our founding documents of this idea of republicanism, they were all Virginians and they were all enslavers.”
She implied that Virginians choosing a Republican governor in 2021 meant that the state was embracing the legacy of slavery.
“A red former Confederate state that turns blue and now it’s in the balance … which legacy will this state succumb to or will it be a state that moves forward?”
“You can lead in something good for once,” Hannah-Jones said, while the moderator—Fairfax County Chief Equity Officer Karla Bruce—said, “That’s right.” (Bruce told The Daily Wire after the talk that “I don’t see equity work as partisan.”)
Hannah-Jones said: “Power doesn’t want to be challenged. It likes to exist in silence. It likes to believe the society we have is the society we have to have. And when you start to see the code behind it and realize it’s been constructed, then you know it can be deconstructed.”
The line was greeted with applause, and one middle-aged woman was observed murmuring “mm-hmm!” and “that’s right!” every few seconds, as if in a trance. Afterwards, a group of elderly white women in masks congregated to congratulate each other for attending, with one telling her friends: “This is our group of bad-asses.” One attendee departed in a car with the license plate “B WOKE.”
Flyers purporting to be from the Ku Klux Klan were passed out in McLean in the days before the event — a curiosity because the area is deep blue and heavily monitored. The Fairfax County Police said last week that they were investigating, but did not respond to a request from The Daily Wire about what they had learned.
“My coming has brought out I think the ugly side of some communities and it hasn’t been easy I know in the last few weeks. Threats have been made, some really ugly things have been said,” Jones said.