I am of the opinion that we can all see the same event occurring but come out of it with different views and different experiences. I am talking now about one of the most hateful rallies I have seen unfold in our country in quite a while. If you watched the ugly hate unfolding on TV this weekend, ending in death, you were horrified in seeing what America has hidden and what America is showing herself to be. And for some of you, it was bad to see, but nothing more than, let me turn off the news cause it is too depressing type of thing. I am still processing the hate I saw. We have had mobs like this in the past. You have but to look at Rosewood and the Tulsa Race Riots to name a couple. The crowd make up back then was exactly what we are seeing now.
I personally have seen this coming for awhile. When you build a climate of division and bullying from the top down and encourage people to act out on their hate, who is surprised when this happens? You really have to own it. And I seriously believe this is a question we all need to ask ourselves, “When Hate Shows Up….what will I do?
What is striking me, almost comically, is the fact that you have some individual participants coming forward now and explaining that the pictures of them saluting Nazism with their hands raised, holding their torches with faces distorted, is not who they are. Really? Sorry but that is exactly who they are. Low life cowards who back down when they are exposed for the haters that they are. What is up with people refusing to wear the labels indicating the results of their choices and their actions? Sorry, they do not get a pass from me. I call them exactly what they are, racist haters, filled with so much anger and and fear of living in a changing world that they would embrace a hate filled ideology based on the extermination or control of people who are different from them. And they are who they have always been, our neighbors, our bosses, our police, our politicians, our clergy and our bankers and businessmen. The only difference now is they no longer cover themselves with sheets. So racists, if you are going to embrace your hate and march through the streets of America, own the fact that America is not having it. This is not who we are, as much as you want to go back to “Making America great again, apparently for you. I am very proud of every single counter protestor who showed up or spoke out saying “NO” to the hate.
Another comment I want to make is about the intentional refusal of Trump in calling out the racists by name and condemning them for what they are. Have you ever known him to mince his words, to hold back calling anyone and everyone names? Yet, when he had the opportunity to denounce hate, what did he do? He refused. And we certainly know why. You have but to pay attention to his cabinet members and several of their affiliations. And in the words of David Duke, KKK leader, his tweet on Saturday to Trump stated, “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.” Again, almost comical is the fact that his White House people and even Jeff Sessions of the DOJ are trying to clean it up for him and say what he really meant. I would imagine Pence, who follows behind Trump in clarifying what he “means”, has to be getting pretty tired. Make no mistake Trump says what he means. And in this case, what he didn’t say, speaks the loudest. I cannot respect a “leader” who will not denounce haters by name. He certainly has been vocal speaking out about Black Lives Matter during his tenure.
Finally, I want to make this very clear that I take what is happening in America very seriously. I do not have the privilege of thinking about it and moving on. I don’t get to step in and out of the conversations and I don’t get to turn off my TV and not think about it, because it is real. As a woman of color, I have a target on my back. I fear for myself. I fear for my sons. I fear for my nephews, cousins, and fellow people of color. While I have many white friends who emphasize and sympathize, for that I am extremely grateful. Any change we are going to make will be done collectively, working together crossing the lines that separate us. You have but to look back at the Civil Rights Movement and see how we came together, all races, religions and creeds. That is how we are going to move forward.
So if you want to join me in this effort to move forward, and not let hate consume us, here are some suggestions:
- Talk about it with someone. Don’t fear the conversation. If you don’t agree, at least you are talking it out. If we, as people, disagree, and leave it there, how are we ever going to find common ground without talking? I want to tell my friends, if you feel I talk about it too much, imagine living as a person of color in this country right now, not knowing where the hate is going to come out. And then having to decide are you going to go high or go low.
- Don’t be passive. I know people fear involvement. But taking a stand against something can be as simple as calling out a comment as wrong when you hear it. Shut it down. Stop it in its tracks. Just don’t listen to hate. I certainly hope it offends you when you hear it. Just don’t sit there.
- Stop justifying hate by saying “people have the right to participate in their Constitutional rights.” We all know that is true. But when they are walking down the streets of our cities with torches, while some of them are heavily armed, chanting hate with the intent of intimidation, there is no justification. Their intent is not peaceful protest, at all. And please don’t give me the comment starting with …”Well, but Black Lives Matter is…. So many have missed the entire point of the BLM movement and that is an entire different conversation. I don’t need to hear that “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter”. Saying that when we are talking about racism is nothing but deflection from the real conversation. And I absolutely hate how we have made it an either or issue. If you support Black Lives Matter, you are against Blue Lives Matter, and vice versa. That is just ridiculous.
- Denounce Racism. It is wrong. It is like a cancer. It grows and festers and it is eroding our society. Unless we stop it soon, it will consume us. Never ever would I have believed we would see the type of march that we saw in our streets on Saturday. When you think about how we fought against fascism in Europe in WWII and so many died, and now we are seeing it in our streets? Well let me pause here, the way our black troops were welcomed back and treated in the streets of this country, showed our hateful hearts even then. Is this “Making America Great Again?”
- Stopping racism may begin first in your own family. When you hear the comments, just shut them down. There may be some hard choices you have to make. So often I have heard my white friends say, “My dad was racist. But you know that was the culture and times they grew up in.” I say baloney. Your dad was racist because he chose to be. Racism is a choice. There were many good people who lived during segregation who, yes, lived in the culture, but chose not to participate in the hate and actually showed compassion to others outside their race. If you can learn to hate, you can certainly learn to love. We have given those excuses so long, we actually believe them.
So I end this blog with the same question, “When Hate Shows Up… What Will I Do?” This is a question all of us must ask because I do believe it is coming to a city near you soon. These haters, this past weekend traveled, some across country to spew their hate. They are not done. They merely have gone back to their holes they have climbed out of and are regrouping and reloading. And before it is all said and done, we will all face this choice….what will I do?