This weekend, a rally was planned in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the removal of a statue of a general of the Confederacy when the United States was in civil war. The Confederacy lost. The Union prevailed. The Confederacy did not want to recognize slaves as people, and argued that they would be financially ruined if they were unable to obtain the free labor provided by slavery. The Confederacy lost. They argued that these possessions, ripped from their homeland violently, packed into the bottom of boats, shackled, beaten, malnourished…these were savages. The Confederacy lost.
The history of my country is shameful. It is ugly. It is disgraceful. My ancestors arrived here, murdered the native inhabitants, allowed the survivors to stay on reservations (at least until vast natural resources were discovered, then nope), shipped in slaves, and basically raped and pillaged like pirates. They didn’t ask for anything. They took it. “Manifest Destiny” they coined it. The country was built upon slavery and murder, all while praising God for blessing them so richly.
I know there may be some who read this that claim I am suffering from ‘White Shame’. To them I say that I am indeed ashamed of the cruelty that so easily passed from the hands of generations before me. I am not afraid to call it out of the shadows and talk about it. I am not afraid to be honest and open and totally appalled at it. I am not afraid to recognize that there is absolutely nothing that makes this justifiable or acceptable. But just as Germany teaches its children of the country’s original sin, and owns its history, SO MUST THE UNITED STATES!!!
Look at these faces. Some are smug. Some are angry. Some are smiling, like they are at a high school bonfire. They are carrying their torches and chanting “Blood and Soil!” They are chanting “White is Might!” They are chanting “TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!”
James Alex Fields Jr told his mother he was going to a rally in Charlottesville. She assumed it was a Trump rally. She stated, “She didn’t like to get involved in his politics”. He took his sporty silver car, found a street with a clear view of counter protesters, holding signs that said “Love Trumps Hate” and “Racists go home”. Then, he sped towards that crowd, ramming another car from behind, murdering a peaceful counter protester and injuring more that 20 others. Look at him. Look at all of them. These are our neighbors. These are our cousins. Our sons and our daughters. Our brothers and our sisters. These are our coworkers.
When you sat through World History in high school, and you learned about the rise of Hitler, Stalin, and Moussolini. When you heard the story of the Jews and Blacks and Homosexuals in Germany, how they were murdered or put into concentration camps to die, or to be science experiments. When you learned about the Japanese Internment Camps in the UNITED STATES. Did you tell yourself that you would have stood up for your friends, for your neighbors, for your coworkers? Did you wonder how you would react? Did you think that you would never let fear grip you so tightly that you would silently watch these atrocities happen?
The time has come, my friends. How are you reacting? I live in sunny Arizona, far from what any would perceive as a conflict area. Yet, the seedy and disgusting racist views come out in the people I least expect. They aren’t outwardly awful. They’re not wearing uniforms. But once in a while, you will hear it. “Those dirty Mexicans.” “DEPORT THEM ALL!” “What are you? Are you African, or what are you?” The FORMER Sheriff of my county, you may have heard of him, became famous for his racial profiling orders. For harassing people, just for their skin color, demanding papers, ripping families apart. Though our county kept him in office for 20 years, we FINALLY were able to get him out. The fact that he held office for so long tells me that there is a lot of underlying racism in my community. Some may argue that he was a good sheriff, but let’s be honest. The only reason that YOU know his is because of his outlandish tactics that were covered in the national news. America’s Toughest Sheriff? Nah.
If you are not calling people out on the spot for racism and hatred, you are part of the problem. You have got to find the courage in yourself to not shrink back in the face of this hate speech, but call it out. Bring it to the light. Confront these people and tell them that patriotism is in direct conflict with white supremacy or racism. I often wonder how some people reconcile this idea that, because they were born in a place that was farther away from the equator make them superior to any other human being, simply because they have less color in their skin. It is time to stand up. Find your voice and use it. Denounce this ridiculous notion that the color of your skin determines your worth.
Be brave. Find your courage. Do what is right without fear. These students stood inside of a crowd of angry white supremacists. When your conscience is nagging you, listen. Because you’re probably not crazy.