A note before I dive in: As a writer (and a white person) with a creative outlet and some semblance of an audience, I will never be someone who sits on the sidelines. This blog is a place where all races, religions, sexualities, and genders are welcome and respected. This is a place where I will support and fight for these same groups, and their rights, continuously. If that bothers you, you know where the X is. Feel free to click it. If you align yourself with racism, I don’t want your page views, or your political ones.
There are certain moments in history you hope will never be repeated, moments you hope you never live to see or experience. Reality shattering, soul shifting, mind rocking, heartbreaking moments you prayed would never come. Watching white supremacists march down the streets with conviction in their eyes, hatred in their hearts, and fire in their hands is one of those moments.
The Vice documentary left me in a sloppy mess at my desk. Each time I watched these malignant pricks march down the streets, practically chanting the fucking Mob Song like Gaston and his white townsmen, ready to burn the castle down with their ignorant, racist, anti-semitic venom, a knot grew in my throat. Like many other privileged white people who don’t encounter this deep, unsettling, visceral spew every day, my insides were screaming at me. To turn it off. To tune it out. To take a break.
Instead, I watched it three more times.
I drove home from work the night that the Vice Documentary aired, and wondered, whom among my fellow roadside commuters, were white supremacists. I made my way to the grocery store and roamed the isles. I looked people in the eyes and wondered if any of the shoppers picking up basic human necessities wouldn’t want me to have basic human rights. Whom among us would want me dead had I been born Black, Muslim, or Jewish. The people in the documentary looked like they could be my ex boyfriends, my neighbors, my professors, my friends, my family, the people pumping gas next to me in the east coast town I grew up in. A town where polos and tiki torches make regular appearances at Sunday barbecues. Some of them looked like me.
I wondered to such a deep point of discomfort that I left the grocery store, overwhelmed and empty handed.
This discomfort that we (to clarify, when I say “we”, I mean white people) are hopefully all feeling is paramount. It’s not something we get to run away from. It’s not something we can “choose love” our way out of. We don’t get to be sick of talking about, or reading about, or hearing about the negativity this time. We cannot change the channel, or the station, or the topic when this shit gets uncomfortable. It not something we get a free pass from because we’re too white to be directly affected by it. This temporary nightmare we’re witnessing from our shiny laptop screens is the everyday reality of our fellow Americans.
It’s not enough anymore to think we’re not being racist.
We have to ACTIVELY and AGGRESSIVELY be ANTI-racist.
We HAVE To be ANTI this bullshit:
And choosing love? That’s fine. But let’s do something with it. Make choosing love actionable. Choose love in the form of showing up. To meetings. To protests. To rallies. Choose love in the form of getting educated. Getting involved. Getting ready to have difficult conversations with the people in our circles who threaten the mental, emotional, and physical safety of those inhabiting this country alongside us.
We must oppose and fight this savagery with all our might. We must prove to our fellow humans that we are better than this. That we are there for them. That we are aware this exists. That while these archaic views are emblematic of a grotesque time in our country’s history, one I wish I could undo with every atom of my being, these Neo-Nazis marching two by two, hurrah-hurrahing their way through our streets and our cities, conflating bigotry and facism with patriotism, do not represent where we are now. They do not represent where we are headed.
As much as I wish we could love our way out of this, it’s time to admit that the white supremacists have crawled out from the deepest corners of the internet. They are proudly marching on campuses and in public parks with their swastikas, and their flags, promoting genocide and calling it free speech. They are shouting into cameras. They are showing their faces. They are unafraid of being named for what they are.
Now you can sit there and think you’re not causing any harm by not fighting back. You can think that by not calling your senators, by not donating, by not writing, by not protesting, by not confronting racist comments when you hear them, that you’re not technically making things worse. You can pretend, if it feels safer (lucky you), that you have the right to opt out because you’re sick of engaging in the exhaustive list of important dialogues that NEED to happen around the clock. But just know that right now, your silence IS compliance.
This is a problem. Racists are our problem. And If we sit idly by and choose to be “sick of talking about it” because it’s uncomfortable, then we’re not choosing love. So don’t be a choose love bandwagon fan. Choosing love when love is winning is easy. You know why love wins? Because there are people on the front lines working their asses off and fighting for it. Suffering for it. Dying for it. I’m not downplaying the importance of celebrating each glorious victory, but we’re not there yet. Those punks with weapons and tiki torches just showed us we have a long way to go. Right now, it feels like we’re losing at this. Choosing love is hard when it’s losing.
Choosing love means standing the fuck up for it. And for each other.
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Here are a few documents, links, and resources for anyone interested. I’d love to keep adding to this list. For what it’s worth, everything on this list I have read, listened to, or watched myself. I have made a donation to Black Lives Matter Charlottesville, and I have written a letter to Maggie Hassan denouncing White Supremacy. I implore you to do what you can to fight this bigotry and make this country safe for everyone in it.
First – get familiar with the frightening landscape
A few additional resources:
- How to overcome our biases: TED Talk by Verna Myers
- Color blind or color brave?: TED Talk by Mellody Hobson
- Syllabus for White People to Educate Themselves
- If you’re in Boston, here is the link to the Counter-Protest, “Fight Supremacy Boston”
- Join (or create) a Saturday Dialogue
- Make a donation to Black Lives Matter Charlottesville
- Make your voice heard – Search by city and find an Indivisible event near you