I watched the events in Charlottesville via YouTube and the responses from our leadership via news outlets. I wish I could say I am shocked; but I am not. I feel shaken, I feel repulsed, I feel enraged and heartbroken. But not surprised.
These tragedies continue to happen both in high profile moments in the national awareness (and it must be noted that the death of a white person elevates Charlottesville in our awareness while the ongoing deaths of Black people go relatively unnoticed), and in daily moments; only witnessed by the people directly involved. Charlottesville is part of a continuum in our country that reaches back 500 years. Again and again, the racism in this country is contributing to a body count that is beyond reckoning. How many African people died on the Trans-Atlantic passage? How many Indigenous people died under the project of genocide? How many enslaved Black folks were killed to make this country “great?” What is the death toll of Manifest Destiny, The Relocation Act, Jim Crow, The War on Drugs, …?
White supremacy has been shaping America from the moment Columbus stumbled across Turtle Island. This most recent display is a reminder, not an anomaly. Over and over we are witnessing these atrocities. I feel I should be hardened to them, but I am not. I feel I should not really care, but I do.
It hurts. It hurts me to see my friends and families of Color, continuing to be slain, terrorized, brutalized, and demeaned. It hurts me to hear my people, white people, talking about “hearing both sides,” when one side is dedicated to stripping others of their humanity. It hurts me to witness my comrades overcome with frustration and pain that these events always trigger. It hurts me to watch my white brothers and sisters claim deniability and point to the swastikas and Confederate flags as being the “real” problem. All this hurts me to my core.
I’m calling my people. White folks; we gotta do better. Yes – those Aryans and neo-nazis are certainly to blame for their violence. But we gotta dig deeper than that. It is our complacence and denial that gives them fuel. It is this belief that racism is something those “bad” white people do, instead of understanding how we are ALL complicit in this. White folks; we gotta do better.
Justice is not for tomorrow, it is for today. There can be no tolerance for the intolerable. Don’t give me your rhetoric about the first amendment, because freedom of speech is not in jeopardy. The skinheads are not being persecuted by the state for their beliefs. In fact, our commander in chief is equating them to those who oppose their nationalist agenda. As if the Holocaust was morally equivalent to the Allied aggression ending the reign of Nazism.
Justice is for right now. It is up to us. White supremacy will end when white folks cease to believe and act as if we are superior. When we recognize ourselves as part of a community, not separate from it by skin color. When we BELIEVE #BlackLivesMatter as they tell us the obvious truths. When we stop putting our laws above our conscience. When we do the hard work in our minds, in our hearts, and on the streets, to disrupt the poison of supremacy in every way it manifests.
This pain will continue until we wake up to what racism is. It will continue until we all choose to face it, take responsibility for our own personal stake in it, and move together to end it. It is not up to “them” to end their disgusting displays of hatred. Yes, that must happen too, but it won’t happen until they are so fully marginalized that they have no more room to move. And they will never be marginalized as long as well meaning white people continue to hide from our own complicity and privilege in a system that fuels itself on Black bodies.
This is not abstract. This is not theory. This is you and me waking the fuck up, right now. This is us making a stand, right now. This is reaching within to confront the white supremacy every white person was taught as birthright, and reaching out to end that horror forever.
“Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” ~ Emma Lazarus