Eugene Goodman saved America. That’s not an exaggeration.
The Capitol Hill officer put his life on the line by weaponizing a White mob’s racism against them. He knew that his Blackness would be the only thing White supremacists focused on. He put himself in the line of that generational rage that has killed so many who look like him. By doing so, he diverted the mob away from members of Congress, saving their lives and preventing a successful coup.
So, yes, Eugene Goodman is a hero.
As a result of his heroics, Goodman was rewarded the duty of protecting Kamala Harris’ life as she was inaugurated as the first Black woman vice president in United States history. The American sign of honor is to have the Black man who survived a White supremacist mob protect a Black woman from the violence that would likely be perpetrated by a racist mob that hates her skin color as much as they hated his. Beyond that, Goodman’s treatment is a reminder of what kind of work Black people have to do to be considered heroes in America, a duty that’s usually tied to our proximity to danger and sacrifice.
So often, Black people only become deified based on how we uphold American institutions. It’s easy to reimagine our sacrifices as a passion for maintaining the colonial status quo. The narrative shift of Goodman’s heroics to paint his actions as some preservation of Americana, the flag, or the American way of life all feeds the much-needed American framing of Black people as having bought into the oppression.
Goodman spent years protecting Capitol Hill and was a fully credentialed member of the security before the events of January 6. But if he’d gotten pulled over and killed by police on January 5, he would have been another Black man who deserved to die.
Goodman’s escorting of Harris came just 48 hours after MLK Day, a celebration of a man who fought vociferously against the American institution of anti-Blackness until this…