I have a question that needs answering: What are we doing, big or small, to create effective change? To dismantle our fear(s)? There’s too many soul-sucking things happening these days. It’s not enough to say it’s 2017: therefore, these things (also known as the persecution of People of Colour) shouldn’t be happening. As if we’re looking at relics from the stone age. But, history is never static; it moves between past and future, influencing every passing moment.
Thinking on what happened recently in Charlottesville—something that’s happened in too many similar patterns of hate too many times before, and in too many disturbing settings—is what led me to my question. It also made me feel paralyzed, for a time, by what felt overwhelming and draining as more and more details and more videos came out—which, to my eye, all revealed an apathy for black lives that the Nazi/supremacist/terrorists demonstrated in Charlottesville to deadly purpose.
Reflecting on this violence, I felt stuck for a moment. As if time was playing a twisted game, gambling on western history’s long-reigning fable that POC’s voices could never—never!—win a place within its pages; or its streets and public spaces where statues stand to commemorate the innumerable ways that POC’s voices have been silenced.
In Charlottesville, the statue of Confederate general, Robert E. Lee—sitting proudly and upright on his horse, this general who pushed to continue slavery and all the benefits it afforded him—attests to this.
His statue carries on a tradition of silencing. One where the wounds of Blacks are looked down upon and seen as illegitimate in the face of an old romanticized South: a vision seen in the face of Robert E. Lee on his noble steed. This carrying on, this version of history, is what the activists in Charlottesville were calling to end. (A move the Nazis and white supremacists, in keeping with their old tradition that Black Lives Don’t Matter, saw as this: “dishonorable! dishonorable!”) Yes, throughout the history of the Americas, people have suffered from those who’ve turned a blind eye to the ways the insidious past still rears its head.
To those who look at the events in Charlottesville and say, “this is not what we believe in,” how can that be? How can that be when too many people in the history of the Americas, from the very northernmost of Canada to the tail-end of Chile, have barely been recognized as human because of the varying degrees of melanin in their skin? Have had their humanity disregarded from the very moment the ships landed and “discovered” the “New World”—and, from those moments on, created its foundations on the genocides of the Indigenous and the lives of the enslaved? These are the foundations, the legacies of terrorism, that the “New World” was built upon. And is still fighting against, still struggling and dealing with, today.
So, it brings me back to this: What are we doing, big or small, to create effective change? To dismantle our fear(s)?
Because, in some way or another, tomorrow has to be better.
There can be no more carrying on of “New World” traditions of erasure. Not when it comes to my survival, or those who look like me with melanin running deep in their skin, and all the history that brings with it; not when it comes to our collective memories that keep us moving forward to live and, above all—above everything!—not only to survive, but to thrive ardently, generously, and vitally.
The path showing tomorrow only as some continuation, as some dragged out violence of colonialism and all its oppressive ideals, is unacceptable. Unacceptable to my understanding of the world, of its possibilities, and the convictions that I stand on as my own personal foundation, which spells out: I am enough and I belong—even if what I witness today makes me feel weary at times with fear.
I remind myself that people have choices and they make actions from them. And, I remind myself, that the world wasn’t made to carry all this destruction. It shows in the work being done to create change, to overturn the oppression embedded deep between the Americas, as those who protest against racism and its symbols of hate have been doing in Charlottesville.
Their work is encouraging. Even more than this, it is necessary.
Below are two links to those who were injured by the act of terrorism in Charlottesville, and who are in need of financial support in their physical recovery:
And, in memory of the life lost in Charlottesville, and of those seriously injured defending anti-racism, here’s an article with suggestions of groups to support:
Please feel free to add links that you know of in the comments below. I’m looking forward to reading what you have to share. (And, this should go beyond saying but I’ll say it anyway: no statements of hate or phobias towards other people’s humanity—ie. transphobia, anti-Blackness, anti-immigration, etc.—will be welcome in any way in the comments. Check your privilege. Be mindful, be respectful.)
Take care of yourselves.