“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” These words are displayed on the Facebook cover photo of Heather Heyer, the 32-year old legal assistant who was murdered during the Charlottesville rally in Virginia last weekend.
I’ve been outraged, long before Charlottesville. This time, I’m not alone; I’m not the angry Black woman in America. I united with my city, the City of Brotherly Love, in the “Philadelphia is Charlottesville” rally, stood behind clergy men of all ethnicities and religious backgrounds and walked with hundreds of outraged individuals for blocks listening to speakers say what Black philosophers have been saying for centuries. Now, if not ever before, people are collectively outraged. Anger is good; action is better. So, where do we go from here?
There are at least three things we can learn from the Charlottesville tragedy. Lessons that will, hopefully, make us stronger and more effective in our fight against systematic oppression.
1.) First, we need to unite as allies. We as people, specifically, Black people must be reminded that we are not alone in this struggle. I will argue that there are aspects of infrastructure that we need to learn and practice within our own communities, but in the overall picture of being citizens of the world, we cannot afford to shun or shy away from our allies whether they be oppressed as well or privileged and aware.
We can unite with our allies against the racists, neo-Nazis, Klan members, and other domestic terrorists who plague our country. A local Rabbi kicked off the Philadelphia rally by sharing an anecdote of how the Charlottesville nationalist group from Saturday’s incident paraded by a sister-synagogue in Virginia shouting threatening and anti-Semitic language. This is one of many first-hand accounts of the prejudice actions people in our nation face daily.
2.) Second, after unifying, we need to gain control of the narrative. In 2017, in response to a gathering of morally unjust and hate-filled individuals whose actions led to someone’s death, our President, more commonly known as 45, responded by condemning the racism on “many sides” as if it’s been a two-way street. He went on to correct his original tweet in a NBC press conference where he declared racism as evil and specifically named the groups that promote prejudice, but he still ended with the recycled Nixon rhetoric of establishing “law and order” at all costs.
Anyone with eyes can access the truth of what is happening in this country and what has been happening since its inception. The minority is being justifiably oppressed by those in power; it happened with the Native Americans, the enslaved Africans, those of Latino descent, those who identify as Muslim, and it has never stopped; it has only increased to include more groups of people. We need to be at the forefront of what’s being said by using all of our platforms to continually call out politicians and everyone else using coded language or promoting misguided narratives. We cannot remain silent. Knowledge is only power when applied.
3.) Speaking of applying power, the third thing we learn from Charlottesville is the need to fight, head on, and persistently. We can’t be tragedy-driven; we need to be consistently diligent in our education, our language, our spending, our accountability, our legislation, and every other way we can apply our consciousness in our everyday lives. We can push for the removal of monuments, the changing of curricula, the adjustments to laws and the stopping local political moves. We need to fight, collectively, strategically, and unwaveringly.
This fight is a marathon and time is ticking. Get moving.
Let me know what you’re doing to join the fight!