You'll Never Look at White Rage the Same After Charlottesville
White supremacists murdered an anti-white supremacy protester in Charlottesville yesterday.
The situation began over a community park. Not just any park, one that housed a statue of Confederate General and notorious racist Robert E. Lee. In a letter to his wife, Lee wrote in 1856 that slavery was good for Black people and a process that was necessary to civilize them.
Removal of the Robert E. Lee statue is part of a growing movement to erase the names, statues, flags, and other symbols of hate from the American landscape.
This past weekend, white supremacist groups from across the country swarmed the town of Charlottesville to protest the city’s removal of the statue. This event was named "Unite the Right".
Things ultimately boiled over when one neo-Nazi plowed through a crowd of counter-protestors, killing 1 person and injuring 19.
The night before the murder, hate groups mobbed the streets of University of Virginia (UVA), carrying torches, and shouting war cries of "Blood and Soil" in a scene reminiscent of KKK terrorism that many of our ancestors were all too familiar with. The Klan would often ride through the night with torches, setting Christian crosses ablaze.
During Reconstruction, whites across the country feared their way of life would come to an end. This was especially true in the South, where most still clung to the “glory years” of slavery when whites from all classes of society didn’t have to compete with Blacks in the labor market.
Many white people feared that giving Blacks equal rights would infringe on their own rights. The result of this was the formation of organizations that violently intimidated Blacks.
Chained by the fear of violence, many families did not even leave a two mile radius for generations.
Others detail that after Blacks were given the right to vote, members of the Klan and other white supremacist organizations would patrol Black neighborhoods on the back of trucks with firearms in hand.
Often, they would not even shoot, but their menacing presence was a constant reminder that danger was always right around the corner if Black folks “got out of place.”
Voting, education, and participation in the economic and political system were all rights legally granted to Black Americans. However, white supremacist organizations launched a crime wave to do everything in their power to keep Blacks from taking advantage of their rights.
Often, local governments either looked the other way or were complicit in facilitating this behavior. In 1866, Memphis’ Black ex-soldiers stood up for their community against white extremists in a full-fledged riot. Police officers participated on the side of whites.
At “Unite the Right”, hundreds of white people gathered under the common interest of white supremacy. As they chanted “You will not replace us!” and marched towards the Robert E. Lee statue one thing became more evident: as the American landscape shifts, and non-white ethnic groups steadily become the majority population, there is a renewed fear in many white folks that granting rights to non-white groups is an inherent threat to their way of life.
On Saturday, the mobs violently clashed with counter-protesters who opposed their viewpoint. As they waved Confederate flags in the air, held their hands in Nazi salutes, and wore "Make America Great Again" hats, the mob antagonized counter-protesters.
Many even wore riot gear that made them almost indistinguishable from police officers. There was a noticeable absence of law enforcement as tensions rose- an eerie reminder of the absence of local law enforcement when the KKK was at its peak.
Violence is not new at these events. During Donald Trump's presidential campaign, countless videos emerged of white nationalists physically harming peaceful protestors. This time, they took it one step further. They indiscriminately took a person's life and could have easily taken more.
While all Trump supporters are not racist degenerates, every one of them is responsible for fueling the fire. Even the most docile of his supporters ultimately turned a blind eye to the warning signs the rest of us fought against. They actively enabled those among them who were addicted to hate.
In his first press conference following the VA attack, Donald Trump refused to denounce, condemn, or even use the words "white supremacy" in his remarks. Instead, he mentioned the "violence on many sides", as if the people protesting white nationalism were equally responsible for the loss of life.
Trump's calculated language ensured he would not lose a large part of his base. In fact, on the white supremacist website Daily Stormer, commenters applauded the U.S. president for not mentioning their movement by name - believing that he is signaling that he is on their side.
After the public pressure criticizing Trumps vague statement, he released another statement: "Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs - including the KKK, neo-Nazis and other hate groups."
His backtracking in this situation is reminiscent of when he initially refused to disavow former Klan leader David Duke after Duke endorsed him during the election campaign. He later dismissively rejected Duke’s support, but the message sent to the public hints at where his true interests may lay.
When the Klan and other white supremacist terrorist organizations were at the peak, they murdered thousands of Black Americans. Then, in the 1868 presidential election, Ulysses S. Grant won the election under the slogan “Let Us Have Peace.” The federal government began cracking down on these organizations.
While this obviously did not create a racial utopia, and Grant may have been more interested in securing the Black vote for his political party and landing a final blow to those holding on to the Confederacy, the actions did show that the federal government is able to stand up some forms of white supremacy. Donald Trump’s actions (or lack thereof) have shown repeatedly that he is uninterested in taking a stand.
Racism and hate never ended in America. This country was established on white supremacy that many hold close to their hearts.
Until recently, these people largely hid in the shadows of society. Donald Trump's rise to power merely made these people more comfortable expressing the bigotry that runs through their veins.
Unfortunately, it has taken the most extreme manifestations of the white supremacist worldview and the recent years of police violence against Black folks to reveal that the idea of a post-racial America is a myth.
Terrorism is used to strike fear in groups of people. It is used to intimidate. We cannot let them get to us. Those of us on the right side of history see the enemy before us. We must rise above the enemy’s barbaric actions and use more sophisticated methods to end this racist terrorism once and for all.
There are many ways for Blacks to launch counter-terrorism actions today. The strongest is to become organized. Another is to continue the fight for removal of all physical symbols of white supremacy across the nation. By removing their symbols, we make them invisible. We hinder their tactics of masquerading behind "heritage" to promote hate to future generations.
We must make them invisible, and show them that their backwards beliefs are invalid and have no place in this country.
We have a quick favor to ask:
PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:
- We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK HISTORY STORIES every year.
- We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
- We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.
And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.
With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please donate now?