Thoughts on this weekend’s devastating events in my home town, Charlottesville.
We’ll get out of town, we said. A day trip.
But as the Unite the Right rally approached and Brian and I spent our evenings poring over info on Twitter and weird chat rooms, we realized we had to stay and fight. Brian decided to join the counter rally while I stayed with our daughters.
On Friday night, we were appalled to watch Nazis march on the University of Virginia, attacking counter-protesters with abandon. On Saturday, we were shocked and deeply saddened by the violence and lack of police presence during the rally, and most especially by the murder of Heather Heyer and the injury of other counter-protesters in the terrorist attack. A friend witnessed this attack and shared her experience with The New Yorker.
On Sunday, our family went downtown to visit the site of the terrorist attack and bear witness to what happened there. We are left with many questions, especially centering on police actions over the weekend.
Charlottesville is grieving. Our community is saddened but strong. Save a few, the white supremacists were not from this town and don’t reflect the views of our city.
Still, Charlottesville is in many ways unequal. There is work do here to heal our community and end the ongoing injustice and white supremacy that has quietly underpinned much of the culture here. As Charlottesville’s Vice Mayor Dr. Wes Bellamy pointed out on NPR, Charlottesville has a history of racism that stretches beyond the legacy of slavery. During the desegregation era, Charlottesville chose to close down its white schools rather than integrate them. Historically African-American neighborhoods have been razed. And the income gap between white and black residents is pronounced.
We have work to do. We need to be better. We need to be louder. We need to fight for justice. If we don’t raise all of our voices, we won’t be able to drown out the Nazi scourge. Truly my friends, silence equals complicity. Don’t be a bystander.
If you’d like to help victims of Charlottesville’s terrorist attack, note that many of the campaigns are fully funded, but right now the funds for Natalie Romero, Star Peterson, and Alexis and Noelle Morris are still in need of donations.
If you’d like to support a better Charlottesville, the following organizations are making a difference: