Charlottesville Statement from Aba Taylor, Executive Director
When Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe told “all the white supremacists and Nazi’s who came into Charlottesville” to “go home,” I wondered what “home” he was speaking of—because the ugliest of truths is that “those” white supremacists, Nazis, neo-Nazis, alt-right members, militia, terrorists, identitarians and all their allies, supporters and sympathizers were already home. “Those people” were already at home not only in the state of Virginia, but in the state of this nation.
In these continuously divided times we’re in, there is a lot of presented rhetoric about coming together. However in order to really take a first step at unifying, we as a country need to admit to ourselves that the perception of a divide is in itself divisive. Those supporters of the alt-right are not just a fringe group of men who marched to Virginia to protest the removal of a confederate monument in Emancipation Park. These supporters of the alt-right ideology are lawmakers, judges, police officers, doctors, principals, teachers, journalists, car mechanics, factory workers, bartenders, beauticians, investment bankers, family members, sons and daughters, colleagues, associates, friends, and neighbors. The alt-right is not a group somewhere over there, in the shadows. The alt-right is not an anomaly, void of historic roots in this country’s practice of white supremacy and oppression that has continued non-stop for centuries. White supremacy is nonpartisan and the idealogies of the alt-right are deeply woven into the fabric of this country. We must own that truth if we want to change our reality.
Call to Allies
If we truly want to unite, the first thing we must do is not distance ourselves from this notion of the other, even if we see things differently, for that is exactly the worldview of the alt-right. We must face our uncomfortable and inconvenient truths and hold ourselves accountable for the violence that happened in Virginia yesterday; for the unnecessary killing of Heather Heyer and the trauma of dozens of others who were attacked standing up for justice; for the helicopter crash that killed two others, and the additional people injured because of that crash. We must as a nation admit the tense present we have birthed and seize the moment we find ourselves in if we want to chart an alternative course for our future. We have to own the consequences of racism as our personal responsibility, even if we are not to “blame.” As someone once said, we must treat injustice like the house we live in—we may not have built it, but it’s our responsibility to take care of it.
We need to speak up, speak out, take a stand, push back, move forward—and we need to do this by first looking within, and admit to ourselves that which our reflection refuses to deny, even when we want to turn away. Vigils are being planned all over the country, and right here in our backyard. Winchester, Woburn, Reading and the Boston are just a few locations that are providing ways for us to come together and demonstrate what unity looks like.
Another march is being planned for next Saturday at the Boston Common in response to the “free speech” rally being planned to take place.
I encourage everyone to show up to these vigils and to “show up” in myriad ways, including:
- learn more about the historical practices and policies that uphold racism, bigotry and bias in this country
- take a workshop or course on racism from any number of organizations and groups
- support local anti-racist organizations
- join an anti-oppression group
- talk to someone who doesn’t share your perspective
- learn how to have constructive dialogue on difficult topics
As part of holding ourselves accountable we must keep asking ourselves why, and for every answer we get, continue to ask why until we are able to clearly see and understand the root of the hatred that has become a signature of our times. The time is now. Let’s make America accountable, arguably, for once.