Charlottesville, VA - Thousands of activists, faith leaders, congregants and concerned Charlottesville residents are mobilizing in response to the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally scheduled for noon this Saturday in downtown Charlottesville. The following are statements selected from organizers across the Solidarity Cville network.
I’ve been doing active work in NYC since about 2014, regarding the heinous murders of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner. However, I have never been as deep as I am now, and since I watched Richard Spencer’s horrible congregation reenact a Klan Rally here in my town. The way the city and some of its members have responded speaks to a comfort of centered whiteness, and have made me realize further how much more is just beyond the surface here in Cville. I’ve been a resident for over twenty years, this type of thinking will not end after A12; in fact, it’s the very reason why we’re here in this place now. These statutes should have been gone a long time ago. They’ll realize the damage these statues cause after this day is done, and it won’t be us causing any violence. We’re doing everything we can to prevent it, to love and protect each other, to save our town from the siege of terror they’ve allowed. I won’t stop until my town is truly safe. For everyone.
I want to follow the Way of Jesus. And for that reason, I must show up with my body to work for justice and counteract white supremacy. We can’t dismantle white supremacy in just one day, but we can confront this structure of evil in its most brazen form. Then we will continue the work, each day confronting the less recognizable white supremacy in our own selves and our own communities.
White Supremacy is the embodiment of America’s original sin. Until we admit that it is sin and repent, we cannot go on as the United States of America. Our avowed creed has inexorably brought us to this critical point in our national history – will we or won’t we live out our most fundamental definition of ourselves…”We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all (people) are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness….” — Thomas Jefferson Declaration of Independence
We cannot dismiss the alt right as a joke. We cannot ignore them away as their numbers grow and their influence expands. We cannot let their worldview normalize. We must be clear, united, and vocal in our opposition.
As a lifelong resident of Charlottesville, and a mother of two, this is about making the world more equitable for my children. I am not naive about the urgent threat of August 12, nor do I believe the threat ends there. Healing a community besieged by a racist system whose tentacles have a stranglehold on every aspect of our lives is a constant concern. My family has been here since the 1700’s, this is my home, and I have no other choice than to protect it.
My seven year-old daughter is a person of color. Since she was four years old, she’s understood what Charlottesville’s Jim Crow-enforcing Confederate statues communicated to her and her place in the world. As her father and a native of Charlottesville I know the story we tell about our past is critical to her and our ability to fulfill future promise. White Supremacy is woven into this country’s DNA, but the story it tells about her and our place in the world is a lie. White Supremacy seeks to dehumanize too many of our human siblings, and white people must be liberated from it as well. As a cis-hetero white man and a pastor, the call to dismantle and overcome White Supremacy is not a choice, but a life-giving responsibility in partnership with God’s dream for all people and on behalf of my daughter. For those new to this call, August 12 is a perfect day to start this long, deep and necessary work.
Charlottesville’s white majority is particularly adept at continuing business-as-usual even though conditions are very much not normal, not OK. Silence is simply not an option. All white nationalism needs is a quiet and comfortable people, unwilling to ask questions and to challenge the status quo. How Charlottesville responds now to this presence sends a message of how much leeway we will give when they return. White people’s silence says that they are OK as long as they continue to be safe. They are OK so long as they continue to benefit from the oppression of people of color and other marginalized communities. I don’t want my identity to be bound with all of the white supremacy that pervades the history of white people.
You have to be brave. Your courage to do what’s right has to be greater than your fear.