Charlottesville

It’s Time to Face the Facts: In Charlottesville, White Supremacy is a “Regular Part of Life”

The white supremacy march on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville shouldn’t be ignored. Unacceptable is an understatement.

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Is anyone else tied of waking up to upsetting news that shows how far we still have to come as a country?

In the wee hours of the morning of August 12th, 2017, the news of a white nationalist rally taking place on the University of Virginia campus, that took place the night before, was everywhere. And more protesting beyond August 12th is expected, as the events on campus were merely a “lead-up” to a larger gathering.

Who is behind this particular event?
ThinkProgress compares the extremists to a KKK-type group, but they are not made up of members of the KKK itself. However, the report also states that the extremists are made up of “hundreds of white, mostly male protestors.” National Policy Institute and “founding figure” of the white supremacy movement Richard Spencer, as well as Unite the Right rally organizer Jason Kessler were both in attendance.

Why the University of Virginia?
The ThinkProgress report discusses the significance of the Thomas Jefferson statue on campus (and TJ was very vocal in legislation working to end slavery), and the university’s proximity to the Robert E. Lee statue in the surrounding city of Charlottesville. City officials have called for the removal of the Lee statue, resulting in similar protests throughout the city that have “become a regular part of life.” Something important to question here: if the rallies have been happening, why is this one receiving widespread media attention?

How did the local authorities react?
“I am beyond disgusted with this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus,” Charlottesville Mayor Mike Singer said. While that’s a great quote and sounds like the perfect thing for the mayor to say, if these rallies have been happening long before this one, how come more hasn’t been done to stop them from becoming a “regular part of life?” Not to mention, ThinkProgress also reports that Singer has “come under criticism from local Black Lives Matter activists for not doing more to address the white nationalist rallies” in the area. The local police, however, removed both extremists and press at the first indication that this rally was not going to be a peaceful one.

Who else was in attendance?
Counter-protestors, made up of locals as well as University of Virginia students and others, sat vigil in a prayer service at nearby St. Paul’s Church when the extremists descended on the campus. The counter-protestors took to the Thomas Jefferson statue spreading messages of acceptance — including, but not limited to, Black Lives Matter.

Okay, we’ve heard the facts. Now, what does this mean for us? 
Most importantly, it means that we have a very long way to go as a country if these groups even exist in the first place, let alone the fact that they are protesting on college campuses. It means that there’s a lot we don’t even realize is happening — as evidenced by the fact that these rallies have been taking place in Charlottesville prior to this one, yet this is the first we’re hearing about it. It means that while we may find ourselves believing we have achieved a culture of acceptance, these events are happening in our own country and it takes a violent protest of this magnitude to force us to face a harsh reality. It means that we can’t ignore past events and rhetoric because if we do, this is what’s going to happen. And it means that we must never, ever lose sight of the spirit and true meaning of liberty and justice for all.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.

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