Overwhelmed By Events In Charlottesville? Here’s How You Can Help
Shame and guilt are great silencers. And you know what they say about silence? Silence equals violence. Here are some ways we can help add a little more love to the world.
This weekend, a crowd of white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, VA for the "Unite the Right" rally. Counter-protestors turned up to make their own voices heard, as a reminder of what Charlottesville—a progressive college community—and this country as a whole, stand for.
Saturday ended in tragedy as violence broke out, and eventually a man marching alongside the Vanguard America members backed a car into a crowd of unarmed counter-protestors. A 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, was killed, and 19 were injured.
It's a frightening series of events. In response, we all likely feel a keener understanding of the high price we could pay for raising our own voices. And being too scared to speak up against the things you find cruel and intolerable is understandable—we’re all scared, after all. But if everyone thinks “taking a stand” is somebody else’s job, well, nothing changes. This is the true meaning of political philosopher Hannah Arendt’s notion of the “banality of evil.” No one is born evil, but systems create evil circumstances when ordinary people do nothing to stop them.
In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, it seems horribly trite to mention Game of Thrones, but in the most recent episode that aired on Sunday, the character of Varys echoed the problem inherent in not speaking out: “‘I’m not the one doing it.’ That’s what I told myself when I watched them beg for mercy; ‘I’m not the one doing it.’ When the pitch of their screams rose higher, ‘I’m not the one doing it.’”
But this isn't TV. It's real life and it's nothing new.
You don’t have to be a torch-carrying white supremacist to be complicit in allowing white supremacy to exist. You just have to do nothing, and say nothing, and they will thrive. Many alt-right trolls are just like the marchers you saw on the news. But many are also your neighbors, your colleagues, or even your family—people who need to hear that their ideas are not, and should not, be the norm.
We’ve scoured a bunch of resources and lists online, created by caring (true) patriots just like you, to help you get started with saying “not today, Satan” to white supremacy and nazis, and a big “fuck you” to racism, intolerance and hate in all its insidious forms.
The first step? Say something. You might feel uncomfortable, but that’s a sign that you’re on the right track. People of color are uncomfortable talking about racism too, but they do it anyway because they don’t have a choice. “White fragility” is not helpful right now. Ego is not helpful.
But going on social media and telling your friends and family you unequivocally denounce white supremacy? You never know the ripple effect you could kick off. That’s helpful. At the very least, you’ve said something. Something is always better than nothing.
Next, try giving a little extra cash to the victims of violence in Charlottesville. At least 19 people were injured in Saturday’s act of terrorism that took the life of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. You can support their expenses here. Charlottesville community members are also raising funds to help support victims of the Virginia attack, under the name Unity Cville. Once they reach their fundraising goal, the money will be transferred to the City of Charlottesville or an appropriate body for distribution. Donate here.
The Black Lives Matter branch in Charlottesville could very much do with your support right now as they continue to expose themselves to hate groups in the name of equality for all. You can show your support for their efforts by sending some spare cash here.
Spread the word
Now comes the time to spread the word, telling your friends, family and social networks to do the same. A “thoughts and prayers” type Facebook status is lovely, but sharing financial resources is an easy way to take that sentiment and turn it into practical support.
Don’t have extra resources at the moment? Don’t worry about it. Just keep talking. Let everyone know the kind of America you want to live in, and then lead by example to make it happen.
unless we are actively anti-racist we as white people are contributing to the legacy of white supremacy that has existed in america since its inception. we live in a racist society and must all be accountable by eliminating this "bare minimum" mentality masquerading as activism. protect poc and listen to their pain.
While the word “ally” can be problematic (like when someone self-appoints themselves an ally while being unwilling to do the work,) learning about how to support disenfranchised voices in your local community is vital.
Find out what local PoC groups would benefit from having you do. Re-tweet minority opinions. Show up to vigils led by the communities directly affected by racism and bigotry. Stand behind them at protests. If you’re white, you’re there to support, not lead.
Also, Safety Pin Box is a subscription service whose fees go directly to supporting the activist work of Black women. The work done with the resources provided is defined by these women. All you have to do is support.
Call your representatives
Let the people who represent you know that you condemn the violence in Charlottesville, and that it’s imperative they do the same. Demand that they denounce hate. There is no place for vague, soft sentiments at a time like this (looking at you, Trump.) Call Your Rep will show you how.
Educate yourself (the more, the better)
Read, read, read and do not ever stop. Education and a thorough understanding of history is one of our greatest weapons in the fight against hate.
Here’s some of the best writing and resources on Charlottesville that’ll give you plenty of context for this event—just the latest surge of violence in a place, and country, with a long, long history of the same.
- The Charlottesville Syllabus (the history of white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia)
- How to argue that the Charlottesville violence is absolutely unacceptable
- The hate he dares not speak of
- The truth about women and white supremacy
- Are Charlottesville white supremacists really Nazis?
- Charlottesville and the effort to downplay racism in America
- Self-care and collective care (Google doc)
Words: Jerico Mandybur