I keep hoping that we are past the age of overt racism. I did not understand, when I was a child, the sight of people picketing with signs on the street corner against people of different races buying homes in the neighborhood I lived in. There were children of different races in my classroom and near by the Watts riots rages. I did not understand. I knew that there used to be institutional racism. But, by the time I came along and was aware of the world, Brown versus Board of Education had come and gone. I was raised in California, so I was unaware of many of the legal battles waged in the South in the late 50’s and early 60’s. As I grew, I became more aware of some of the limitations of that many of my friends of color experienced. I was not aware of how those limitations affected their lives. It took many years for me to become aware that history in the US is about dead white guys. Everyone else gets a month if they are lucky and loud. I had hoped that after the election of Barrack Obama as president, we were at least on our way to a less racist society. The bottom line here folks is that I have no idea what to say after the events in Virginia this weekend. I am saddened beyond belief. I cannot imagine that we have a president that does not even know how to respond to such a tragedy.
Let me start "'with a summary of events. If you already know all of this, or just don’t want to hear it again, skip down to the next paragraph. Carletonville, Virginia has plans to remove a statue of General Robert E Lee from Emancipation Park. In protest of this action, a group of neo-Nazis, KKKers, and other white supremacist groups planned a Friday night candle march on the University of Virginia with a Saturday “Unite the Right” protest. Many protesters were in White Supremacist garb. The former head of the KKK, David Duke was there. So, counter protesters arrived for the Saturday event. Police attempted to maintain calm and order by calling both sides of the protest illegal and called them to disperse. As a result, the protesters from both sides began marching in different throughout the city. Several counter protesters were injured, one killed when a car ran into marchers. None of the chanting or signage seemed to have much to do with General Lee. It became a rally for white supremacy. Counter protesters were about diversion and inclusion. Sorry, General Lee, you are not that important a 150 years later.
Exactly what to say about this event in the twenty-first century is hard to imagine. I was not sure exactly what to write about the whole thing. I have not had much to post on Facebook. I certainly did not know what to say to you. I know Trump was elected President. I know that Steve Bannon is serving in the White House. I know our Attorney General is Jefferson Beauregard Session III. Somehow, I still think things can’t be that bad. I know, I’m white. Then I found a post of Zenobia Jeffries article “Charlottesville Was Not a ‘Protest Turned Violet,’ It Was a Planned Race Riot” from Yes Magazine. Ms. Jeffries examines the mistake that much of the media make in addressing this and other similar events in calling them protests gone bad. She asks “Who wears paramilitary gear and carries automatic weapons to a rally? Who takes shields and helmets and pepper spray and bats and sticks to a rally? The car didn’t ‘crash’—it was driven at full speed into a crowd of counter-protesters.” These are not the actions of a group of peaceful citizens opposing the removal of a monument to a local hero. These are the actions of race rioters. She further challenges her readers to look at what side they are going to take. Are we going to take the side of minimizing the violence and hatred of white supremacist groups? Ms. Jeffries has some other things to say about how the media tends to cover these events. She also challenges the media in its failure report the reality of the lives of the people of color and Jews that are under attack in race riots. What are their lives like in the early part of the twenty-first century?
I know I have been talking about the need to listen to the other side. We have to understand Uncle FOX News’s point of view and flip the conversation. Sometimes, we need just to stand up and say what is true. We need to ask the tough questions. We need to attribute the violence to the proper source. For example, protests in Berkeley lately have often led to violent encounters. The violence is often unattributed. What goes unsaid in the mainstream media, is that while liberal groups organize the events, left leaning groups, uniformed, conservative, white supremacist groups disrupt the event, often with violence.
I understand that there are violent liberal actors. I have not been to any events or seen reported where the participants have arrived in riot gear and carrying guns. Of course, I live in California. We have pretty strict open carry gun laws. I have always felt safe attending various marches and protests. I will continue to attend marches and protests. I will be attending the Interfaith Peace Vigil-Standing with Charlottesville, VA in Walnut Creek, CA this evening, hosted by Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County. To find events near you to stand in solidarity with Charlottesville go to the website below, go to the bottom of the page, enter your zip code and search. The site will give you the events near you occurring in the next couple of weeks. If you don't see anything, plan something.
I am hoping for a more hopeful week next week. Again: this is a marathon, not a sprint.
To read Zenobia Jeffries article:
Leave a comment if you have a thought. Share, like. I will be posting my review of An Inconvenient Sequel in a couple of days. I had to post this first.