Charlottesville: Race and Terror It doesn't matter that this video is distressing, terrifying and disgusting. Watch it. All of it. You have a responsibility to know what is happening. You can't claim ignorance when white supremacy sweeps America and when it creeps into Canada.
Read this too. Read everything I’ve written. I don’t care that it makes you uncomfortable. Don’t use your privilege to ignore what millions of racialized peoples have endured for generations.
“Equality feels like oppression to those with privilege.”
Fighting Against Fairness.
First things first. Let’s not pretend these people were protesting. They claimed this event was about removing a statue of a Confederate general, but any discussion on that never surfaced over the weekend. In fact, no one discussed any specific issues facing white Aryan people. They didn’t protest the inequitable housing accommodations for white people. They didn’t chant about the police brutality that white people endure. They didn’t decry their over representation in the criminal justice system. They didn’t protest the dehumanizing, discriminatory names yelled at them on a daily basis. They didn’t, of course, because they have nothing to protest about.
Rather, the Neo-Nazis and their gang chanted “Jews will not replace us,” “White power,” and “White lives matter.” It was a gathering of hundreds of white men and women showing us their deeply rooted white fragility. It was a response not to their rights being threatened in any way, but to their fears of substantive equality beginning to emerge. A response to the perceived threat of those who have been silenced for as long as we can remember and who are now starting to be heard.
These rioters are violent. As they marched through UVA campus on the Friday night, they carried torches and broke into fights. On the Saturday morning, as they waved Confederate flags and wore Nazi symbols on their shirts, they held shields, spears, guns and chemical sprays. One White supremacist drove into a group of anti-racism protestors, injuring many and killing one woman named Heather Heyer.
A Hall Pass for Hatred.
With impunity and implicit support, white supremacists are becoming more outspoken and emboldened. The USA is regressing back to a more oppressive time for racialized people. There is a President who refuses to condemn the existence of the Neo-Nazis because he doesn’t want to lose his core voter base. There is a President who knows that his platform of “Make America Great Again” means white people gaining greater power than they have today. KK member Duke plainly stated, “We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfil the promises of Donald Trump.” When the leader of a country implicitly condones anti-Semitism and racism, you better believe white supremacy is going to flourish.
The people that gathered in Charlottesville didn’t even cover their faces. We need to think about what this means, because it means a lot. It means that people in the 20th Century were more concerned with being identified as a Nazi than they are in 2017. It means that these people, in an age where cell phones can take a photo anywhere, are not concerned that a photo of them can be shared around the world in mere hours. It means these people are willing to show their faces, willing to be named, willing to explicitly align themselves with white supremacy because they know they won’t face any repercussions. You only hide your face when you’re afraid of something, and Nazis in America in 2017 have nothing to fear.
These white supremacists carried torches, packed guns and spewed racist rhetoric for the whole wide world to see. They proud declared their affiliations with hate groups, ready to reclaim "their country" from Jews, African Americans, Muslims, immigrants and anyone else that has “replaced” them.
It is state agents, not just ‘crazy old Donald,’ that have allowed this surge in hate groups. The institutions, which were founded on white supremacy, propel the status quo. The white supremacists at Charlottesville carried flags and donned clothing/patches that symbolize oppression, destruction and genocide. They proudly waved Nazi flags – a direct representation of the murder of millions of Jewish people. And, in the name of ‘free speech’ and ‘democracy,’ these hateful people walked freely and chanted loudly. The police force stood around them, protected them. As Shree Pradakar of The Toronto Star wrote, “Where were the police ominously beating back protestors in the numbers they did in Ferguson, in Chicago, in Charlotte, in Baltimore, in Cleveland…” Further, would the police be idly standing by if people were waving ISIS flags or shouting Al-Qaeda chants? You cannot logically argue that the American justice system is unbiased and based on equality when we all watch state agents choose (consciously or otherwise) protect those they deem worthy of protection.
It is the media, not just police officers or politicians, that perpetuate a culture of tolerance for white supremacy through their watered down reporting. The language that major news outlets are using to describe Charlottesville makes me understand how the outrage is not as intense as it should be. The media is presenting these racists as your average white neighbour down the street who is disgruntled by affirmative action. The soft language the media uses is just as damaging as the neo-Nazis themselves. No one is being held accountable. News is not being reported the way it should be.
We Need to Call it Like it is.
These people are white supremacists and Neo-Nazis, not the ‘alt-right.’ The alt-right implies they are a new political party, a strand of Republicans, or an obscure internet group. These people have been carrying Nazi flags around for a year. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a bleeping duck.
They are rioters, not protestors. These people did not actually protest anything. They did not decry any tangible injustice they have faced. They came with semi-automatic guns, ready and willing to engage in violence.
They are men AND women, not just men. While men made up the majority of the rioters in Charlottesville, white supremacy and neo-Nazism is not exclusive to men. White women are, and always have been, complicit in racism.
This is an overt example of racism and anti-Semitism, not a new phenomenon. There is nothing new about anti-Semitic and white supremacist groups in the US. Americans have long defended Confederate symbols. There is nothing new about white people seeing their racialized neighbours as lesser. White supremacy has always existed in America. White supremacy built America.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you are choosing the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu
White people, if ever there was a time when we could pretend that we didn’t notice racism in North America, that time has ended. Racism no longer manifests itself in micro aggressions and discriminatory policies. Racism today is loud, proud and empowered. Racism today is torches, guns, and a total abandonment of anonymity.
If we could once upon a time convince ourselves that no one would notice if we looked the other way when we saw injustice, that time is no more. We can no longer say we didn’t know about incidents like Charlottesville. We can’t hum and haw, suggesting that the situation is ‘complicated.’ We can’t say these are innocent people who just want to express their grievances.
North America is, once again, facing an era of overt anti-Semitism and white supremacy. It is in our streets, it is shouting, it is violent and it is spreading. The only way to stop it is to stand up.
History has sides: pick one.