The inauguration of Joe Biden is a day when a wave of conflicting emotions is unleashed by Peter Tracey and Shawntia Humphries. Anger. Joy. Grief. Disappointment. And hope.
They‘re furious at the president who warmed up his supporters and the damage the violent Trump mob did to the Capitol.
“ Those hooligans have no respect for our constitution. Do not think that they represent the majority in our country. Father-loving means you respect each other and take care of each other. It doesn’t mean you‘re looting the Capitol with an American flag over your shoulders,” says Tracey, a 60-year-old lawyer.
They’re sad and disappointed that Washington has turned into an impregnable fortress. Large areas of the inner city are hermetically sealed, tens of thousands of agents and soldiers are patrolling the streets and next Wednesday‘s inauguration ceremonies are not open to the public. Humphries: “I think it’s good that they‘re protecting the city, but they should have been there by January 6th when the Capitol was stormed.”
But they are also hopeful that with Joe Biden’s entry into the White House a new, calmer era begins. An era that makes the four years of division and chaos under Trump forget. Tracey: “On January 20th, we can start rebuilding the wreck that Trump left behind.”
The world met Tracey and Humphries two weeks ago after the storm of the Capitol. Tracey lives in a neighborhood overlooking the American Parliament building. When Trump supporters, decked with big Trump flags, walked back through his neighborhood after the violent attack on the Capitol, he had it all.
“ You must get out of this town, you traitors and bastards!” , he shouted from his porch. “They‘re destroying the city and nobody’s doing anything about it. If that were Black Lives Matter activists, the tanks would already be rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
At that time, Shawntia drove past Humphries, an African-American resident of Washington who just returned from work. Tracey‘s tirade hit a sensitive string on her. She turned her window open and shouted for Tracey. “They’re destroying our city. It gives me tears in my eyes. If it were us and Black Lives Matter, we wouldn‘t have been able to do any of that. We would have died.”
A Norwegian journalist filmed the dialogue and posted the video on Instagram and Twitter.
“ That day was terrible,” says Humphries. “But Peter made it all right. He was so passionate. Every word was hit.”
For the 34-year-old municipal official, the inauguration of Biden comes to an end to four long, painful years. “I knew right away that Trump was a jerk when he entered the White House. I’ve never been so politically active, but he was someone I could never vote for.”
Relief is therefore mainly the emotion that prevails with her. “My God! From his tweets to his inability to talk normally, I‘m so glad he’s leaving. I saw one election debate last year and it was terrible. I hope Biden makes the country better again.”
Tracey has a message for Americans who are still pessimistic about their country‘s future. “Keep courage. I have only had positive reactions to the video and that makes me optimistic. We’ve been through a lot over the past few years, but we are now looking for better days. We are far from being a perfect country and have many problems, but we are Americans and we can climb up again.”
Humphries agrees that: “I liked to see that we gave people hope. I think we can make a difference.”
The casual dialogue between Humphries and Tracey two weeks ago has unexpectedly led to something beautiful: they have become friends. “Real friends”, emphasizes Tracey. “I hope you feel that way too.”
“ I love you man,” Humphries answers. “We‘re having a nice time together. We like talking to each other, and we have a lot of things in common. It’s really cool.”