I could easily say I’m shocked and terrified by what happened in Charlottesville today–the hate and violence. But I’d be lying through my teeth. I’m not shocked or horrified. This hate and violence is not new. My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents etc. lived with this bigotry and terrorism their entire lives.
Let’s be clear, this is terrorism–white supremacist/nationalist terrorism and we need to get comfortable saying it. I don’t want to hear about Da’esh (Islamic State), immigrants, migrants or even North Korea. They are not the threat to the United States, white supremacy is. Unfortunately we have a weak chief executive in Donald Trump, supported by white nationalists/supremacists who are quick to claim their leverage over him. It’s why Mr. Trump condemned bigotry, without actually calling this white supremacist terrorism. Just like he has yet to even mention the recent attack on a mosque in Minnesota before morning prayers. Whether Mr. Trump himself actually is a white supremacist is moot. They hold political leverage over him and that is dangerous enough.
Mr. Trump is a weak, hollow and egocentric president–a precarious combination in a country experiencing such turbulence. Let’s be clear about something else, white supremacist terrorism did not originate in 2017 or during the Obama administration. THIS COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED ON IT–stolen land on the backs of stolen people.
This country exists on land that was taken away from indigenous Americans and its economic success was built on the backs of African slaves–my ancestors. This country was not built on law and order, not democracy, not freedom. Real democracy, real freedom cannot exist in a country founded on such hatred and violence without extensive soul searching–which Americans collectively have yet to do.
So my level of fear and apprehension has not risen in the aftermath of Charlottesville. I’ve been living with it on some level ever since I was old enough to understand I was not white, and white skin is the standard in this country. As former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke reminded Mr. Trump on Twitter, it was white Americans who put him in the White House. Thus it is white Americans who are responsible for calling out this racism now. This is not African-Americans, or Latinos, Asians, Muslims, Arabs, indigenous Americans’ battle to fight. Previous generations of African-Americans have bled, died and suffered to prove our humanity to white America. If there is one thing that my generation, millennials refuse to do now is continue that. We know our humanity. In the 21st century white people need to prove their humanity in condemning this hatred.
Finally, the level of hypocrisy in American institutions is as blatant as it is heinous. Police did not move in on this rally like they do on black people marching for our right to live without a second thought. Even white people were shocked at the level of violence permitted by law enforcement. Moreover, GOP congressmen who criticized President Obama for not referring to “radical Islamic terrorism” would not be caught dead calling on Mr. Trump to call out white supremacist terrorism 1) because they know white supremacists are in their base and 2) they agree with them. This is despite multiple sources of evidence saying the vast majority of terrorist violence in this country is perpetrated by white nationalists/supremacists.
Unless GOP members of congress explicitly call this “white supremacist terrorism”, we can safely assume this about our lawmakers. We also know white supremacists have infiltrated law enforcement. So there’s blame to go around. Had Charlottesville police responded to this white supremacist rally the same way police respond to Black Lives Matter rallies without a second thought, three people likely would not be dead right now.
It may be the year 2017 but we’re still stuck in centuries past.