Today I woke up and did what I always do – rolled over, stretched, unlocked my phone and checked the news. The first two headlines boasted the violence and insanity that was continually unfolding in Charlottesville. For two hours I scrolled through Twitter and Facebook and devoured every news article I could find in an attempt to get as much information as I possibly could about what was happening. Understandably, after a while, I felt completely defeated. I felt that everyone and no one was talking about the reality of a white supremacist rally unfolding in the United States. News outlets, my favorite reporters, politicians, friends from high-school, from back home, everyone was talking about it. Some were shocked, others understood the prevalence and reality of these kinds of things in the US even to this day, and were not shocked. Some people were angry, scared, hurt. Others called for action, for prayer, for something.
But even despite all this, the flood of social media and news, I could still see the silence. Blogs, websites, news outlets, family, friends, politicians who all felt comfortable posting about other political or social things, were silent about Charlottesville. Trying to wrap my head around this was impossible. White supremacy, racism, what’s happening in Charlottesville is not something that I, and many others, have the luxury of turning off or turning away from. And yet, I could see people avoiding talking, writing, posting about it. I cannot guess their individual reasons, and won’t attempt to.
What I will say is that silence and/or an ambiguous condemnation of “both sides” is dangerous and careless. What has the world come to if we cannot openly and blatantly condemn bigotry and racism from White Supremacists and Nazis? Are we so concerned about what our readers, constituents, friends, or family will think if we do? If that is the case, are those the kinds of people we want to be appealing to in the first place? I see the calls for love and peace and “loving those that hate you”, but am confused by these because when has loving someone who hates you meant letting them get a pass for their hatred? When has that meant allowing them to continue such violently harmful actions, words and thoughts with impunity or without vehement criticism? Do we not fight these things in the name of love? We should fight against these things, actively and openly, because we love. We should not stand idly by and just take it and hope for a better day. And how can we fight these things if we won’t even openly say what they are?
Teen Vogue sent out a thread of tweets in which they took a stand against the white supremacists in Charlottesville. Openly. Honestly. Clearly. The Washington Post Editorial Board sent out a thread of tweets to encourage the President to not “wink at racism or to condone it through silence or false moral equivalence” and to more concretely call out and condemn white supremacists in Charlottesville.
Perhaps this upset some of their readers, their friends or families or followers. But they did it all the same. Tweeting, sharing an article, making a Facebook post, talking to your friends or your family, writing an article like this one, is small compared to some of the activism that is being done all across the country to make it a more just and equitable place. At a time like this it easy to feel that it isn’t necessary for us to take a stand, to make a post, to participate in these small actions. It is as small action. A small action that may not change much, but at the very least shows what you stand for and shows your character.
By not talking about the reality of these kinds of situations we allow them to continue and we allow others to believe that we are letting them continue – that they are okay with us. We can say that deep down we disagree, but what good does that do if we will not look hatred in the eye and tell it that it has no place here? What does it say about us if we feel comfortable taking a stance on women’s rights or education or voting or liberals or conservatives or Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter but cannot bring ourselves to utter one word, make one post, one speech, send one message standing against this blatant and violent display of racism and bigotry?