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My Thoughts On White Supremacy and last weekend …

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I’ve been in the ‘how do I write about this insanity’ haze since Saturday. I run a happy, honest brand about styling and interiors. I write about pillows, poufs and a baby or two. When utterly compelled I have written about social issues over the past year (I like to say ‘social’ not ‘political’ because they were never about politics). But last weekend’s insanity and this week’s reaction from our president left me speechless. Just wordless. What has happened to us?

You see, sure, I knew I would denounce ‘White Supremacy’, because DUH, IT’S WHITE SUPREMACY. The sheer fact that we even feel compelled to publicly state our opposition to it is INSANE. For the record I’m also ‘Anti-murder’, I’m not ‘Pro-Stealing’ and I would check ‘no’ in the ‘Should You Burn Your Neighbors House?’ poll. And while I’m not equating any of these acts, obviously, I thought we all agreed that certain things are repugnant and immoral, including racism.

We know these people exist but since when can they use their ‘first amendment right’ to chant publicly about it? We allowed this?? Since when did blatant racism become an accepted public social activity, and why are we so shocked that it got heated, and people were injured and killed? Since when did the first amendment protect hatred that makes others live in fear????

Typically I try hard to understand both sides as I think empathy, understanding and communication is the only way for us to progress, right? When Trump won the election I wrote a whole post calling for Trump supporters to help enlighten me/us as to why he got their vote. And after reading the 1400 comments I truly learned SO MUCH about life and politics outside of my bubble.

But this is different. The “other side”, those who gathered on Saturday, are full of hate, bigotry and racism – despite their many pseudonyms they are Neo-Nazi’s WITH TORCHES. I don’t want to understand them, I don’t want to empathize with them and I really don’t want to communicate with them. There have always been garbage-faced racists out there, we know this. The south hasn’t ever been free of its past but that’s not what is so terrifying.

What is shocking is that right now they feel permission to show their faces as they chant, as they aren’t even embarrassed or ashamed of their racism. It’s a small group of men with even smaller (ahem) microphones, but they happily demonstrated in public, a riot broke out and the most disturbing thing is how those in power reacted to it. Or didn’t.

We have clearly created a culture and society that has helped people foster these thoughts, come out from under their bridges, and feel PROUD of being a racist… IN PUBLIC. WTF???!!! They have supporters in very low and very high places that by their cheers and silence, are emboldening them.

I’ve read enough to know their general thesis and I don’t accept it as anything other than ignorant, fear-based, GARBAGE, riddled with insecurity and paranoia. In case there is confusion I’m talking about White Supremacists (or “nationalists”, same thing) this isn’t a partisan thing. Even my most conservative of family members are appalled by what has happened and the reaction to it. Perhaps this could unite us more than we think?

All I can say is that all Americans should certainly practice “tolerance” daily, but do not tolerate racism.

All Americans should treat others as equals, but know that these actions are way beneath us.

And we should all be open-minded to different political/cultural/religious views, but we should be CLOSED OFF to any blind-hatred, shut down to this insanity and no matter how ‘accepting’ we are, WE SHOULD NOT ACCEPT THIS.

Brady pointed out this theory:

The paradox of tolerance, first described by Karl Popper in 1945, is a decision theory paradox. The paradox states that if a society is tolerant without limit, their ability to be tolerant will eventually be seized or destroyed by the intolerant. Popper came to the seemingly paradoxical conclusion that in order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.

I feel like every day we get more and more divided, but I’m hoping that this is a subject that we can all agree on. A lot of people wanted a big change, but certainly this wasn’t the change anyone was looking for.

I’d love to hear any insight on what the best way might be to help. Sure we can donate money but I don’t really see how that will change ignorance and fear (hopefully I’m wrong). I can’t imagine any laws against hate speech or ‘public display of hate’ will be passed in the next 3 years, but if there are some proposed by congress I will campaign for them. I know it won’t stop people from being racist, but it might slow down both its growth and the pain that events like last weekend created.

I know that our society, including all us white people, are responsible for this in a way, but what do we do now to fix it??? And If I’m upset, how must many of you feel?

Fin Mark
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Amy

I love this post so much. Thank you for using your platform to share this and open this conversation <3

Rebecca gibbs

Ditto. ❤️

Nataie

Thanks for taking the time to write about this. I really appreciate people who use their platform to confront racism, even if it’s not totally “on-brand” for them. Part of how racism continues is that we don’t confront it. I’m from the South, and I’m working hard to unpack the invisible racism that was a part of my upbringing (which was very liberal by Southern standards, tbh).

A resource that I see mentioned a lot, and that I’m going to check out is Safety Pin Box. It’s a monthly subscription, and many of my friends sing its praises. I think joining the Southern Poverty Law Center mailing list is another (free) step to take. Both of these things will give you resources to tackle confronting racism and learning more about how you might be perpetuating it.

Anna

Thanks so much for this comment, Nataie! I hadn’t heard of SPB, but it looks terrific. Signing up, and going to see if my law firm (which I’m always proud to say is *serious* about its commitment to inclusion) is interested in rolling it out as an initiative across our offices. Thanks again! (And, EH, thank you – duh – for starting the conversation 🙂

Erica

Nataie – I cannot seem to find the mailing list on SPL website. Can you please link?

Lauren

Love your opinion, but I disagree with your last paragraph. ‘All us white people’ are absolutely not responsible for anything to do with our past, including the events of last weekend. And I’m glad you are cognizant that you definitely live in the California bubble – hopefully your readers will provide some good commentary to your post.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Samantha

By traditional western standards of Individualism and direct individual responsibility, I guess you’re technically right. None of us owns slaves, if that’s what you mean. It’s illegal now.

Any other thoughts about this? I believe white Americans do, in fact, bear a collective responsibility for all subtle and overt racism in modern America. What do you guys think? Can anyone enlighten us more on this issue or add to this discussion?

Elizabeth

First not all “white americans” are descendants of slave owners and even those that are did not choose their heritage or the actions of their progenitors, so no I do not believe they are responsible for what people currently think, say and do. The law holds us accountable for our individual choices and actions. We do not let an abuser off because he/she was abused as a child, they still receive punishment. Also we don’t arrest the child of a murderer, we arrest the murderer. These are extreme examples but we cannot be held accountable for other people’s thoughts and actions, we can only be accountable for our own. We cannot force people to be kind, we can love them and show them a better way, some people will choose to change and become better, others will hold on to ignorant beliefs. I want everyone to have the freedom to think and speak as they wish, even though they think and say things that are mean and contrary to my own beliefs, it is the price I pay to be able to freely think and speak as I wish. We have laws to prevent cruelty, abuse murder. But you cannot… Read more »

Vee

I completely agree Elizabeth.

Kelly

Elizabeth, I appreciate how you believe so genuinely in the ideals that created our nation. The problem is that all those ideals, like “the law holds us accountable for our individual choices and actions”, really only apply to white people right now. It makes sense that many of us (white people) want everyone to have the freedom to think and speak as they wish, and that’s a fundamental part of our country that can’t be compromised. The problem is that what happened this weekend was NOT free speech. It was the harassment and threatening of citizens of this country, and that is NOT acceptable.

Rebecca

Unfortunately, while it is true that not all white Americans are descended from slave owners, based on race alone, white Americans unilaterally benefit from the structures that were created by and promoted by white Americans who came before. While the law should “hold us accountable for our individual choices and actions,” the law is not applied as fairly and evenly as it should be. So while we “can only be accountable for our own [actions],” today, we must act with the knowledge that we will be less likely to be stoped and frisked, less likely to face assumptions about our up bringing or family status, and less likely to be ___________ — the statistical list continues. Laws are only a sound as the people that interpret and enforce them.

Emily P

Yes, Rebecca! Thank you! I was raised in a 99% white middle class area in Florida and I know my life has benefited from being white and middle class. I try to remind my peers that although they may not have been handed a perfect life, they still have had it way better than others due to their race and socioeconomic status. It’s true that I never owned a slave, and neither did my parents or grandparents, etc. However, I have lived in a country where the scale has been tilted in my favor for a very long time, and I am aware of that and I can admit it. That is all that most of us are asking for-just some honest awareness. I am anti-hate and anti-cruelty across the board and what happened in the past two weeks is unacceptable.

Liz B

I could not agree with you more, Elizabeth. Especially ending with the Martin Luther King Jr quote that needs to be spread around like wildfire. The only way to combat hate is to spread love and to act in love.

dux

The distinction here is that simply by virtue of being caucasian in the USA we are already “ahead,” whether we are first generation or DAR. It doesn’t matter about your ancestors and whether they owned slaves / supported slavery. What matters NOW are the current ramifications. While I appreciate your attempt at parallels they aren’t correct here — too many societal, sweeping implications.

Lily

Nope. We need to start judging people on the ‘content of their character’ not on their skin color, etc.

Lily

Wait, are you saying that the only reason white people don’t own slaves right now is that it’s illegal?

We need to speak out strongly against racism where we see it, but its not fair to our young people to hold them responsible for wrongs that were committed by other people.

Me

I don’t think its fair to young people to burden them with ‘sins of the past’ – sins they had nothing to do with, that have no relation to them. At some point we’re going to have to move forward, and work toward real equality. To sit around and look for people to blame for past wrongs becomes counter productive at some point. Stand up for what is right and good and move forward. You cannot right the wrongs of the past by creating new wrongs today. (or as Mom used to say: Two wrongs don’t make a right).

Becky

I agree. I have noticed this in recent years, for example all the angry posts about Christopher Columbus. I think it is great to take another look at history and see it from a different perspective but dwelling too much on the distant past is fruitless. Its also easy to demonize people who lived long ago when in fact they were a product of their time, just as we are today. I think what is more helpful is to analyze how the past shaped the society we have today and how we can avoid repeating the sins of the past.

Me -- too

I agree that it’s not fair to blame anyone (not just “young” people) for sins of the past. But there are plenty of sins of the present of which I and many others have reaped the benefits. Many of us have had excellent educations, and opportunities, and jobs, and a good number (though not all) of us are prosperous out of proportion to our rightful share. Whereas I don’t believe that prosperity, peace, and the luxury of pursuing the perfect pouf is a zero-sum game, I have to confess that I have benefitted from policies and social structures that have served to give me a leg up at almost every step along the way (albeit not as much of a leg up as my male counterparts). It is only by recognizing that what was set in motion when the first slaves were brought here is far, far from over — and doing what we can to set things right — can we we move forward.

judith

Sorry, Samantha, but you are missing a very important point here. Your statement, “I believe white Americans do, in fact, bear a collective responsibility for all subtle and overt racism in modern America ” implies that only whites can be racist. NOT TRUE. Racism can come from any race and be directed towards any other race, anywhere on the planet. Racism is not unique to the United States, nor is it solely perpetrated by whites. I’m sure you did not intend for this comment to be as offensive as it comes across.

Dianne

I agree Lauren 100% !

Kelly

Lauren, this article was helpful for me when I was trying to figure out my personal culpability in America’s racist past.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-metta/i-racist_b_7770652.html

KellyJo

“All of us White people” benefit from the society we live in, even if we are poor, or Jesus loving, or have experienced strife and poverty. We see ourselves represented everywhere we look, to the point where we notice when it’s not there. It doesn’t matter if our families were never slave owners. We still benefit.

Here’s a frivolous but important example: When Black people are in shows on TV, it becomes a “Black show”… or the press fawns over the “FIRST BLACK” Bachelorette! How newsworthy! That’s White privilege.

Laura

Thank you.

Colleen

On point.

Kristen

I think it is important for the white community to discuss their role in this time and place to cross racial divides, and while the media might highlight “black” tv shows, I feel this is more embraced and highlighted by the black community itself. If the white community is going to bring peace, healing and restoration, then I think it’s important that the black community also be open to peace and reconciliation, but movements like “black lives matter” maybe more damaging to peace between black and white communities than helpful.

Jessie

I had to laugh at this one, since it’s literally called BLACK entertainment network or BLACK entertainment awards. White people certainly didn’t name them that, lol. Bc if they named something White Entertainment Network it would be considered racist. It seems that most people hold the opinion that we need to talk about racism more. I think that is actually magnifying the problem. People are constantly – constantly! – pointing out differences between race and treatment and privilege etc. Wouldn’t it be more loving and accepting and healing to point out similarities? It seems so obvious to me. For example I saw a meme recently about a black cop keeping the peace at some KKK protest, and the meme pointed out his nobility in protecting people that wished him harm. Which is absolutely true, it is noble. And it’s also what thousands of other cops of every color and belief system do everyday – they protect and serve people that wish them harm (the good ones do anyway). There aren’t memes about them. Why are we always in a rush to point out if someone is black or white? Instead, can’t be point out if someone is a good person… Read more »

Me -- too

Oh wow, Jessie. Instead of being frustrated by your comments, I’m just going to guess you have some growing up to do.

S

I completely agree with you jessie

Kuku Martini

Hi Jessie, Let me preface this comment by stating that I came to this site for design ideas and had no desire to discuss race relations but your comment has prompted that—so much so that I read your comment yesterday and woke up this morning thinking about it! The BET comment in particular. Let’s explore this. I’ve hear this comment “if they named something White Entertainment Network it would be considered racist” entirely too often and must state how flawed this idea it. Allow me to explain why. Essentially every major network on television could be considered WHITE entertainment network; it is owned by white people, operated by white people and the performers on these shows are predominately white. It has been this way since the beginning of television! Jessie, do they really have to call this White Entertainment Network or is it not obvious? BET- Black Entertainment Television was made out of complete NECESSITY. It was made from black people who were tired of having their stories rejected, tired of the Beulah and Amos’n’Andy stereotypes, lack of sponsorship and network support, black actors and actresses STRUGGLING to get roles because they did not look and fit the mainstream ideas… Read more »

Rachel

Kelly, great article link. I encourage everyone on this thread to read it.

I think it is natural to react strongly to being called a racist – “not me! I didn’t have slaves! I have Black friends! I voted for Bernie!” But when I take time to listen to others, process what they’re saying and consider my own privilege that has been afforded to me because I am white, I realize that I am complicit in a racist system, and that a little discomfort with that reality is okay. It is nothing compared to the burden of being a part of a systematically oppressed group of people. White friends, we can handle the discomfort and should work towards accepting our complicity and figuring our what our own roles in changing the system will be.

Jen

Thank you for saying this.

T.

Exactly Rachel!
And amen to Emily for speaking up.

Kira

Well said.

Janean

Absolutely! Anyone still confused by their participation should listen to Brené Brown’s FB video on Charlottesville. We young white people are NOT off the hook in helping heal this country. We are a key player.

Claudia

@ Kuku Martini I really didn’t want to reply to any of this, but your reply really touched me. I am white and privileged. I cannot bear all the talk about how racism has gotten better. I’m privileged because I didn’t have to fight to get in college because of the color of my skin, or get my first job, or not be asked to step out of my car for a burned out tail light, or send my kids to the private school in my neighborhood. No one looks at me with their nose turned up or thinks I use drugs or have a felony, or am on ‘welfare’. It has never been that way for POC. So anyone who talks about how times have changed and racism is in the past, wake up. Read and learn from your neighbors or other people of color. Racism is alive and violent in our country and with a racist potus, it’s getting worse. Stop racism wherever you see it, stand up for POC, learn about their struggles as you go about your perfectly white day, and learn to love instead of judge.

Amy

Thank you for sharing this!!

Taylor

Well, it IS white people’s responsibility to dismantle the system. We CREATED it, now we must destroy it. White supremecy benefits ALL white people. To pretend otherwise is to dismiss the whole conversation. Although we weren’t the ones holding torches, we need to take responsibility and become allies to the marginalized. To acknowledge that our country was built upon racism, to note that being colorblind is harmful, and to listen to folks of color are great first steps.

Danielle

” White supremacy benefits ALL white people. To pretend otherwise is to dismiss the whole conversation.” This is key. So many white people do not understand this.

Jane

Kellyjo and Danielle,

“White supremacy benefits ALL white people. To pretend otherwise is to dismiss the whole conversation.”

I would argue that White Supremacy hurts EVERYONE. I don’t know any white people who are not deeply pained and disgusted by supremacists; supremacists’ actions are a blight on society.

Me

I strongly agree with Jane.

AlsoJane

Jane, I think you may have misunderstood some of the phrasing here. There is a marked difference here between the societal faction who are defined as “white supremacists” and the so-called “supremacy” of whiteness over other races. I think the comments above, about white supremacy benefitting all white people, are with reference to the latter, to the reality that whiteness affords a level of privilege arguably unavailable to any other race. I don’t think KellyJo and Danielle are trying to suggest that those who organize and march about under the banner of white supremacy are benefitting us in any way, but rather that historical claims to some inherent white superiority (claimed in myriad ugly and costly ways) continue to benefit white people enormously.

Jen

Agreed, Danielle.

S

Agreed! Danielle. Thank you. When you have the awareness, it’s hard to understand when people don’t.

Janie

Dismantle what system? Elaborate please.

sarah george

THANK YOU

-brown person

Addie

Thank you Taylor. These are key issues, a good starting point. And thanks to AlsoJane for clarifying. I could not say it better or more succinctly.

Ann

Lauren, Thank you. Although viewing life through a lens that only sees extreme contrasts may make it simple and easy to take ones passionate and self righteous side, life is actually very blurred and complex. It takes intellect to see it that way. Maybe that is why our Prasident took a little time to address the nation on such a serious problem that has landed in his lap.

Grace Barr

It should take NO TIME to publicly denounce NAZIS.

I have infinitely more to say, but no, no President of the United States should waffle on his or her denouncement of racism and bigotry. Period. End of story. There are not other sides to be seen on the issue. Yes, Trump can take a moment to be fully briefed on the specific events of the terrorist act, but it should not take him DAYS to publicly denounce the TERRORIST GROUPS.

Es

Thank you, Lauren, for enlightening us with your MLK wisdom.

It must be the sweetest thing in the world to wake up and so easily dust history off your shoulders. To say, hey, don’t look at me.

Now if only us brown and black folks could do the same — sweep decades of oppression and hate away as if it were lint.

That would be so nice.

AB

YES! Thanks you ES. You aren’t getting it Lauren.

Lauren

ES – it is your choice to rise above history and make your life greater and better for yourself and your culture. I do not ‘dust history’ off of my shoulders, rather I make a conscious effort to love everyone and treat them how I would want to be treated. YOU have the power to shape your life – good luck!

Colleen

Lauren, respectfully, it is difficult for our fellow black and brown citizens to simply try to make life better when every system in our country- educational, healthcare, judicial- gives them a disparate experience than a white person, simply because of the color of their skin. Just because you and I both live by the golden rule doesn’t mean that people of color get treated equally or justly. It is our responsibility to make those changes in the world.

Es

Preach, girl.

Preach this message to all your white friends.

Because they, for the sake of humanity, desperately need to hear this. To feel it in their bones, like you apparently do.

Thank you for making this world a better place.

FelicityinPortland

I would upvote this comment 1000% if I could.

RCG

It’s called forgiveness, not brushing off hate like lint. All the bitterness and hate is just breeding more of the same.

Meghan

I have to respectfully disagree with your statement that white people are ‘absolutely not responsible for anything to do with our past.’ As a white person, I have benefited from generations of white privilege and the fact that racism still exists means I/white people have not done enough to overturn the institutions that have established those privileges. I was not personally bearing torches or screaming racists epithets last weekend, but my silence throughout my life regarding racism and racist policies is its own form of violence. Similar to the idea that painkillers treat a symptom not a cause, we cannot solve the pain of hate and racism without identifying its roots. If white people cannot accept responsibility and understand the basis for policies that benefit white people to the detriment of other skin colors, we cannot overturn those policies and drive out hate.

Emily, thanks for posting. I’m looking forward to reading the comments.

Samantha

As a fellow white person, I respectfully disagree with this “not all of us” notion. You and me, as white people, benefit from a system of privilege whether we like it/want it or not and to deny that you are part of this system is wrong. Sure you might not consider yourself or your family or even anyone you know to be “racist” but that doesn’t dismiss you from the problem. White Privilege is exactly what allowed this “tolerance of intolerance” to happen in the first place and it IS our job, whether you consider yourself part of the problem or not to speak up against these crimes and injustices, whether or not you feel directly responsible for them. We can only move forward by talking about it and taking action to improve the social environment around you. This might mean making a donation to an organization who supports marginalized people (SURJ, SPLC, ACLU, BLM…. just to name a few) or might be something a simple as saying something the next time your neighbor/friend/well-meaning Aunt says something even vaguely racist. If you don’t want to associate yourself with the problem that you benefit from every single day (whether you’re ready… Read more »

angelica ibon

thank you. All that agreement made my stomach turn.

Astrid

I agree about the “all us white people” comment. I understand the notion behind the statement and that it is our privilege to just watch this stuff happen and not speak out about it and that we SHOULD speak out about it.
I believe in the notion, “do not punish the child for the sins of the parent”. I do my best to be better than generations before me- I do not partake in hate-speech and violence towards other people and I didn’t vote for the person who condones such hate and violence.

I think, like everyone else, I’m very upset, overwhelmed and confused about what to do.

Susie Q.

I’m originally from Nashville, and I remember the Klan having marches back in the 1970’s. Now I don’t think “NashVegas” allows these marches–why? Because hopefully (1) the group is smaller than it used to be (though I am sure it still exists) and because (2) the march eventually drew more protesters than supporters…what city would welcome this kind of violent brouhaha? And yet last night on the news Gov Matt Bevin (of Ky, which is where I live now) was making statements to the effect of “removing Confederate monuments would set a ‘dangerous precedent’ akin to the third reich…” WTF, Matt?!? *Smacks self on forehead* I do think one mistake is to equate every Trump supporter (well okay, VOTER bc how many actual supporters does he have now?) with these white supremacist jerks, or even with racists. And yet on the campaign trail we had a man standing up and saying racist stuff, and hundreds of listeners were cheering…if you cheer for a racist, what does that make you? My husband is not a native English speaker (nor is he white), so I had to explain what a “white supremacist” was by breaking down the phrase. It occurred to me,… Read more »

Grace Barr

“If you cheer for a racist, what does that make you?” Such a poignant thought, Susie thank you! I live in Texas and have many conservative friends and acquaintances. I have struggled to put into words the hypocrisy of saying “I’m not racist” but supporting a documented racist. Very well said.

Catherine

Being conservative does not make one racist.

Emily

At this point, it does. Pick a side. Either with the white supremacists or against.. If you sit there and say “well I’m a different kind of conservative” understand that by saying so, you are indirectly (or directly) supporting white supremacists to everyone else in the world. Because your party is now the party of Nazis.

sc

But the racist are in your midst. Trump has always said racist stuff – going back to central park five (google it) to Judge Curial –

And this was not a deal breaker to GOP. If you vote for a racist/ whit supremacist/ Nazi sympathiser – then you are exactly against racism. Not by deeds.

Also – mass incarceration, drug war, gerrymandering by race, trying to unravel voting rights won by the civil rights act = this are all racist policies of the GOP happening right now. So yeah… If you ain’t standing against it, you’re silence says you’re for it. Take this moment to reflect and do better.

We need 2 parties. Racism and racist policies should be the tenant of neither.

K10

Exactly. Because Statlin was a socialist (and worse, a communist, like good old Bernie), and I’d wager Ms. Henderson’s and most of the left’s political ideology skews that way. Statlin was also responsible for the murder of at least 20 million peoole. See the correlation here, people? Hate is hate. It comes in many forms. I most certainly don’t support the alt-right, but I’m not joining the left, either. Not as long as violence and destruction is a part of their agenda.

K10

Apolgies. It’s Stalin – I know. Don’t act like you’ve never made a fat-finger tired-eyed typo.

Kelly

Uh, what? I think she’s recognizing as we all should, that we live in a society with systemic bias against people of color — the fact that most black men in the U.S. live in fear of getting unfairly pulled over by a cop or the fact that people with more “ethnically identifying” names have a significantly harder time getting jobs, and that hiring managers time and again choose candidates that seem like the best “cultural fit” aka have a similar background to themselves — is a challenge that we collectively need to address even our subconscious biases; just as all white men are not directly responsible for holding women back, there are a lot of cultural biases that do contribute to the glass ceiling. Obviously, no one is saying it’s your fault directly that that white racist idiot killed that innocent woman, but I think the onus is on all of us to not just criticize the hate and intolerance of these pathetic neo-Nazis, but to also look inwards towards our own intolerances and biases, as small or inconsequential as they may seem. Of particular concern, to me, is how segregated our society has become — it is possible… Read more »

Katherine A.

I want to add a thought to this line of conversation. Through the past years, I have come see the truth of institutionalized white privilege that benefits me b/c I am white skinned. It’s easier for white people to participate in American life. Regardless of my ancestry. But, I emphatically disagree with the line that “White sepremacy benefits all white people.” Y’all, white sepremacy is evil and is a lie! Evil benefits no one ever. No one benefits from white sepremacy, not even white sepremists, (though they don’t know it.) Whites do not benefit from having frightened neighbors and friends. Whites do not benefit from having an over-inflated sense their own greatness. No one benefits from evil. Specific areas of life are certainly easier for whites b/c of white privilege, but it is not good … for people of darker colors or for people who are white.

Jessi

I would just like to encourage everyone from getting hung up on semantics. These conversations are great, but to criticize someone’s well-meaning (and overall positive) comment is to discourage that person from participating in future discussions. I hope everyone who wants to see this hatred ended feels emboldened to continue these conversations without fear of being told they aren’t doing it right. Brene Brown recently said “To opt out of the conversation because you can’t do it perfectly is the definition of privilege.” Yes we will fumble and make (well meaning) mistakes, but we have to try, and we have to start somewhere.

L

Lauren – Emily’s last paragraph said *our society* and yes, that includes white people. As for privilege and racism, there is a distinction between acknowledgment and blame. You are not being blamed individually for the institutions that have contributed to racism & privilege – but you’re being asked to acknowledge them. I love the opportunities I’ve been given here, and I also believe I have the power to shape my future — but maybe I haven’t had as much power as others. And the accomplishments I have made, I’m told by others that it’s only because I’m a minority woman and firms have diversity quotas to fill. I’ve been noticing a troubling trend with this past weekend’s events of people making it about themselves and say it’s not their fault what happened – and that’s true. I just wanted to make a distinction that as long as you’re not a white nationalist, you are not directly responsible, but you are responsible to think outside of that and be willing to listen to the groups in our country that are shouting at us to listen. I encourage using any platform available to you to spread that message. Here’s another handy MLK… Read more »

RCG

True. I am not a racist and know of only one in all my fifty years. I won’t let this get pinned on me.

worth watching

I Don’t Care About Charlottesville, the KKK, or White Supremacy
Red Pill Black
https://youtu.be/4S2TZOdXAtQ

Lauren

I am very liberal, but I still think these people have a right to speak out. While “hate speech” seems to have an obvious definition, it can easily be manipulated, eroded, or misconstrued to limit other, less noxious forms of speech. For example, many on the far right believe that Black Lives Matter is a hate group promoting hatred against police officers. Who should decide what is hate speech? This does not mean accepting this speech AT ALL. It means drowning them out with more, positive speech – and voting in elected officials that will do the same…

Kelly

Part of being liberal is believing people have a right to speak, whether you agree or not with what they say. ‘Liberal’ is derived from ‘liberty,’ love of which is supposedly a core American value. But the rest of us are also free to reject what they say, vocalize our objection and to avoid contact with such odious human beings, though I hesitate to class them in the same species as myself and other civilized folk.

Haley

I completely agree. I think the push towards such tightly controlled group-think is alarming. This should absolutely be unpopular and looked-down-upon speech and shouldn’t be dignified by public officials, but it should not be illegal. That’s a dangerous precedent that is, as you said, easily manipulated by ALL imperfect people.

Kelly

I think the point is that the kind of “protest” that happened this weekend didn’t belong under the “free speech” umbrella. It was squarely under “threats and harassment” which we should not and cannot accept. Also, “free speech” while wielding assault weapons cannot possibly satisfy the “peaceable assembly” criterion, which requires that those gathered be “not inclined to perpetrate violence.”

anon

totally agree. no matter how disgusting the speech is, our government should not silence it. OTHERS can silence it by, as the commenter above pointed out, drowning them out or telling them it’s not tolerated. but government taking away first amendment rights because the majority of americans don’t believe in what the speech is? no way. that sets a very dangerous precedent. and emily, i know you obviously don’t agree with the first amendment reasoning since you put it in quotes above, but it’s important. as is calling out and stopping racism. there is a way to accomplish and protect both. now, inciting violence or actually performing a hate crime? of course there should be–and are–laws against that. and i acknowledge that the line between inciting violence and practicing your right to (loathsome) free speech might be blurry under certain circumstances. but a blanket statement that hate speech should not be tolerated is absolutely dangerous. in any event, i generally agree with your sentiments that what has happened is terrible and worrisome.

Katherine A.

I agree with this comment. As the Black Lives Matter movement has progressed, I have tried to have an open mind and heart. To examine both societal injustices and my own personal blindspots. I like to think I’ve grown in understanding and empathy, though I certainly have a ways to go. I have been uncomfortable making a hardline stance on BLM though, b/c 1. some of their rhetoric scares me. There are groups and speakers (not all, but some) traveling the country, making speeches about killing white people and so forth. Honestly, I was shocked when Beyonce and her dancers came out at the Super Bowl two years ago in Black Panther type outfits, b/c of the type of organization it represented. It confused me that we as a nation were happy to praise this cultural reference. 2. On the flip side, I haven’t felt compelled to speak out against BLM, b/c I’m not black. And I really don’t know what’s it like to live in our country, with its history and racism. But, as I listened to the more intense rhetoric, I would often wonder, do all my black friends secretly feel this way? In conversations and more, it’s… Read more »

KellyJo

The Black Lives Matter movement has never denounce other humans or ‘less than’ or ‘less deserving’ so that BLM folks could have their rights. Black Lives Matter is about creating more seats at the table. It does not matter if “the far right” chose not to research what the BLM movement does. Black Lives Matter has clearly stated their principles time and againhttp://blacklivesmatter.com/guiding-principles/, which is to act *against* bigotry and hate. White supremacy groups are the exact opposite. Comparing the two forces is apples and oranges.

Kiana

I think another crucial difference is that when those police officers were shot in Texas by a man who believed himself to be carrying out the desires of the BLM movement, the BLM people were swift in their condemnation of violence and that terrorist act. The white nationalists do not distance themselves from this criminal who killed an innocent girl in Charlottesville but brag about it while blaming the other side for provoking them to be violent. As though showing up chanting incendiary slogans, bearing torches and bearing assault rifles is not provocation.

Sara

Agree! Legislating “hate speech” isn’t the answer. Positive speech is the best way forward. There’s a great article in Foreign policy about this topic. I think this statement sums it up well: “The most egregious and harmful forms of hateful speech — threats, harassment, and incitement to violence — are already unlawful. When it comes to less definable forms of abhorrent speech, there is no single standard for what qualifies.”

Here’s the link to the article: https://www.google.com/amp/foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/14/the-problem-with-making-hate-speech-illegal-trump-charlottesville-virginia-nazi-white-nationalist-supremacist/amp/

Jennifer

As a libertarian, I very much agree with Lauren. As much as I despise what those people have to say, not allowing them to say it is not the answer. I don’t have a problem with the restrictions already in place on rhetoric that incites lawlessness or violence, but I believe that any speech falling short of that should be protected by the first amendment. The right that those people use to spew hateful things is the same right you and I use to legitimately criticize the government, and that is a right I believe in and will defend.

NKM

Yes!
…And .I do feel though (at the risk of sounding like my grandmother) that these days, there are a lot of things happening that surprise me, work me up, upset me, or simply make me go “WTF!?!?!” There are people driving vehicles into crowds, there are babies being aborted at 20-36 weeks, there are two and three year olds abused and murdered, there is still human trafficking and slavery, there are police officers murdered, and there is this… These days, I’m scared for a lot of things and reasons! We (my mom brought me and my sister here in 1993) came to this amazing country, with nothing, but great hopes of building a better life. And now, I fear for my own two kids. Not because I am ignorant, but because I am genuinely worried about what we are making of this country (and world) for the next generation(s)….. All the arguing and fighting will never solve anything. Live in Grace, Walk in Love [Bob Geoff]. That’s the only way!

Emily R

I’m so upset and overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do – I feel like this is consuming me. I’m leaving for a vacation across middle America tomorrow morning and I’m hoping this will be a good way to escape the 24 hour news cycle. I don’t want to escape fixing this country, but I’m in no shape to do any good when all I can do is cry.

Thank you for writing this.

Ann

Quit watching CNN!

Me

Its a sad thing, but the news media has financial incentive to keep us stirred up about the news. We tune in and continually check in, and this makes money for them. The grievance industry and main politicians also gain power and financial benefits from keeping us stirred up. We definitively have work to do to improve our society, but we don’t need to allow ourselves to be used by these people.

RCG

True.

Samantha

Thanks, Emily. There are some days when pretty pictures just don’t cut it.

Love you and your team!

Allison

This week, and the response from the administration has been incredibly upsetting. Thank you for addressing what’s happening. It’s weird to me when something so huge is going on and blogs pretend that everything is normal. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

Caro

Yes to this! Thanks for saying it publicly.

This kind of poisonous hatred is not acceptable. We need to learn to live together without hatred, without violence – or the threat of violence.

It takes courage to stand up to bullies, but they must not be allowed to get away with this.

Ashley

So if people protest to have the Washington or Jefferson monuments torn down, will you side with that? I don’t support racism at all. I am biracial! But I don’t think it’s right for people to protest something in public and expect to not be counter-protested. Now I mean that in the sense that it should be done peacefully, but protesting rarely ever is peaceful. It seems like those who speak out against something they don’t like have the mentality of ‘if you’re not with us, you’re against us’ and that goes for both liberals and conservatives. How do we go about accepting each other’s opinions and not using them as a basis for hatred and therefore a justification for violence?

Sarah

There is no justification for violence but there is also no room for pro-Nazis anything in our society. We should not erase the history of figures such as Robert E. Lee but statues and symbols like them, along with the Confederate flag, have no place in our public parks or government buildings.

Susie Q.

Maybe these events are useful in that we’re able to see how many DO protest against them. But protests and anti-protests must be non-violent.
I lived in mainland China for a few years–no protests of any kind are allowed. We should appreciate our inalienable right to speak out.

judith

Please consider this: the Confederate flag stands for one side of the battle in our war between the states. The flag has, unfortunately, been hijacked by hate groups as a symbol of something they have come to believe in and want to use to further their agenda of hate and intimidation. It is not the flag’s fault. The flag is NOT, I repeat, NOT a symbol of racism. Please go back and review history and the causes for the Civil War. None of my ancestors owned slaves; they were poor people from Appalachia who were tired of having their land stolen and their women mistreated, so they stepped up to defend the Confederate States, which were at that time being dominated by the Union. Which had plenty of slaves of its own. Please stop saying that the flag, and statues of people who fought for the South are merely symbols of racism. Yes, slavery WAS an issue of the Civil War, BUT, was not THE issue. Prior to the Confederate flag, George Washington owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. I’m sorry that happened. It is horrible that men would enslave men. But slavery doesn’t define every single issue of what… Read more »

KD

“largely, Confederate monuments were built during two key periods of American history: the beginnings of Jim Crow in the 1920s and the civil rights movement in the early 1950s and 1960s.” Those all need to be removed.

RCG

And to what end? More of the same? It doesn’t change history to try to sweep it under the rug. We need reminders of history, the good, the bad and the ugly, or it will teach us nothing.

H.S

Also a key point that many news agencies are not reporting that I think would change the dialogue: over 90 percent of the statues are being moved to museums. The ones that aren’t are being carefully preserved in storage, none of the statues are being destroyed. They are protected by law as historical monuments. So this is really a non-issue, people are claiming that their removal is destroying history, when they are in fact being moved to areas specifically FOR remembering history.

Jessica A Davis

Amen.

Jessica

Unrelated: I got ready to write a response, saw this and said, “I agree, but I didn’t write this…”

We share the same name 🙂

S

Yesszzzsas! Haven’t even read it yet, but regardless of what I will read, I’m so proud of you for taking a stand and sharing. We need to, all of us.

Elizabeth

It is sad that racism still exists but I agree with two previous comments. The quote by Martin Luther “hate can’t drive out hate, only love can.” Also we cannot mandate what is and isn’t hate speech and people should be allowed to think and speak as they wish. People say things all the time I don’t like or agree with. Depending on the situation I share my differing thoughts and opinions in a calm manner or I just walk away if the other party is too agitated to listen. It’s called adulting.

Lastly actual things to do to help, this article by Southern Poverty Law Center is a starting place, “Ten Ways to Fight Hate.”

https://www.splcenter.org/20170814/ten-ways-fight-hate-community-response-guide

An excerpt that resonated with me, “Do not attend a hate rally. As much as you might like to physically show your opposition to hate, confrontations serve only the perpetrators. They also burden law enforcement with protecting hatemongers from otherwise law-abiding citizens.” Some of the violence would have been prevented if an opposing rally had rallied elsewhere. The article says to still hold an opposition rally, just do it in a different place in town. I hugely agree with this one.

Anna

Wise! The less media attention these fringe weirdos get, the less fuel they have for their torches.

Me

Good point – the media make money by keeping us stirred up, continually checking in with them, watching and commenting on their sites. Its kind of sick if you think about it. Makes us thing most people are awful when most people are decent and just trying to get along.

Elizabeth

Sorry, in writing quickly I said Martin Luther, not Martin Luther King Jr. Please excuse my hurried mistake.

Steph

The rallies were in different places. Both sides got permits. The end of your post sounds a lot like victim-blaming to me. Some of the worst “violence” came from people driving their cars into a crowd. I’m not sure how “rallying elsewhere” would have prevented this.

SusieQ

@ Steph – YES. Elizabeth, this sounds a LOT like victim blaming.

“Why didn’t they get a permit?” “Why not rally somewhere else?” “Why was her skirt so short?”

There’s no excuse for that disgusting display. Side issues do nothing but obscure that fact. Additionally, walking away from this kind of hatred is cowardly, especially if you’re white (because then you’re in a position of power not afforded to POC).

RCG

By the time the car incident happened, the people were all in a lather and chaos had ensued. The counter protesters came in from all over the country. This appears orchestrated (who called in the opposition in advance of this event?) You’ve got to know BLM and Antifa are going to clash hard with Nazis. This was a nightmare that could have been prevented…..if people had wanted to be peaceful, they would not have been there. No one’s innocent here.

Deb

I would love for the high ground of ignoring this to be a safe bet. My feeling is we tried that during the election cycle. I’m not sure we can afford to experiment more, and we’re gambling with human lives. I’ve seen the same few MLKJr quotes thrown around a lot this week- for example, the ubiquitous “Hate cannot drive out hate.” He had a wide perspective that I feel is not being served by the limited scope of representation. “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the… Read more »

Jessi

Wow, Deb, that quote is so powerful. Thank you for sharing.

Lisa

Deb, thank you for sharing. All week people have been twisting Dr. King’s quotes. As a person of color, as someone who understands history, it is painful to me how people recast his words. He was a person who took a strong stance, who never stayed quiet and who ultimately sacrificed his life. Also, lets not forget that, in his time, he was regarded by many Americans as a dangerous, divisive, radical agitator, and he was targeted by the FBI. The quote you cited is very appropriate here.

Anna

Oh, Emily. I am totally on board with your sentiment and know your heart is so good, but once again you are living in a bubble. I would NEVER want to live in an America that curtailed anyone’s free speech, whether I agree with it or not. The majority cannot and should not ever dictate what the minority says in public. It is a very dangerous slippery slope. From a good place, you would limit people’s ability to say hateful things…but who defines these hateful things? Some are very clearcut obviously, but what if Trumpsters of the world then use these “hate speech laws” to control people speaking badly of elected figures, or cults, or the EPA? I really love our constitution and can indulge a few negative consequences of a system that is arguably one of the best in the world. If you haven’t yet, you should watch a Handmaid’s Tale so you can imagine what a law like this could do in the wrong hands. I bet are values on practically everything are very similar, but from one good hearted liberal to another, one of the things you and I can both start doing, is resisting the urge… Read more »

anon

as a republican from the south (BUT NOT A RACIST, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? 🙂 ), thanks for acknowledging the harshness of that seemingly automatic equation these days. also, on a lighter note, seeeeeee? we do have things in common with those from different political camps…all of us here have an interest in and read daily blogs about interior design! 🙂

Anna

Didn’t someone very important say “Throw pillows can unite a country” 😉

Jen

Thank you for this. And for acknowledging our white privilege and the responsibility we have as white people to do what we can to change things.

Sara

Thank you so much for addressing this. It gets more and more depressing everyday to see what is happening to this country. I feel disgusted that we have a president that seems to condone this, or at the very least, tries to blame both sides equally. I honestly feel like we have to stand up to Trump and demand better from Congress. I have been calling and writing my Congressmen daily to ask them to please do something, to hold Trump accountable. I have truly terrible Congressmen and they are both Republicans who just look the other way with Trump. The only way we can improve things is to get out and vote and get new leadership in for 2018. Trump has got to be impeached. He’s a toxic sore that needs to be excised from America along with his white Nationalist advisors.

Zahra

You are amazing for this. Completely agree with every point you have brought up. We are going backward on things that should be eradicated by now, for God’s sake it’s 2017 not 1917!

Crystal

I am a white, conservative, Christian woman who is very religious and I am deeply ashamed of those people and their actions. I’m appalled and very afraid of the future. I love this blog and Emily and like, Emily, I like seeking out differing opinions than my own. It’s healthy. I don’t have any easy answers, though. We all want mostly the same things, I think: to be able to raise our children in peace and love, pursuing our own version of the American dream. If those versions differ from my neighbor, that’s OK. As long as you are not harming others (which would include making them fear for their safety), then that’s your prerogative. I’m crying out inside. My only consolation is that these people are fewer in number than decent citizens. I have to believe that. They are few, we need to be louder. Thank you Emily.

Deb

Thank you for sharing your persepctive.

Sami

Thank you for not being afraid to discuss this, it’s so important!

Anna

If you haven’t watched Megan Phelp’s Roper’s Ted talk on how she realized she was in a hate group…do it now!

https://www.ted.com/talks/megan_phelps_roper_i_grew_up_in_the_westboro_baptist_church_here_s_why_i_left

Love and unity for the win.

cate

I’m glad you spoke out and wrote this column. Its important to say.

To answer the questions in your third paragraph. There’s a whole body of constitutional law defining the parameters of free speech. Its why voting is so important: we elect people to then nominate and confirm judges, who interpret and develop that law.

This is a good read: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/what-trump-gets-wrong-about-antifa/537048/?utm_source=fbia

Erin

I’ve struggled with this so much over the past few days. One of the things I’m finding helpful is going back to Martin Luther King’s sermon on Love Your Enemies (available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=522wcqUlS0Y). He talks so eloquently about the ravages of hate, and I find I need to hear that right now. And if an African-American man living in the South in the mid-1900s and watching his friends and neighbors suffer for the color of their skin – a man who ultimately lost his life to this same evil we’re talking about now – if HE could be loving, then I don’t have much excuse to fail in this.

I think the piece about the paradox of tolerance is incredibly challenging for those of us who have always taken such pride in American tolerance and free speech. I will go back to Popper to understand further. Something that keeps ringing in my head is that, historically, across nations, one of the classic precursors to genocide has been when it becomes acceptable to use hate speech on a broad level. Words matter, and they always have.

My heart is breaking that this is happening in our country.

Terri

Remember that voters sanctioned Trump’s support of alt-right supporters. This is what troubles me most. How many people in the U.S. secretly don’t care when nationalists gather?
But one thing we cannot do is allow the government to repress free speech. Ain’t going to happen. It’s what our country is founded on — the 1st Amendment.
Do note that the amendment does not prevent private companies from censoring others regarding their companies — i.e. Google and Facebook, which seem to be more willing to cut off extremists. And the 1st Amendment does not allow free speech to devolve into violence.

Jessica

Hi Emily,

I’m a longtime reader and fan. I’m also African-American. I’m horrified that this is a thing in 2017. I hate that not too long ago, people old enough to be our grandparents – if they’re still living – sacrificed their youth to fight a war to prevent the very things that are taking place now. It’s embarrassing as an American, and it’s shameful to know that we struggle to move past it. There is no easy fix to the problems we have centered around race and hate, especially those that keep occurring even now. But posts like these, and encouraging others – especially those who don’t look like others in this country – to not be afraid of having this conversation and to denounce divisive, hateful ignorance and intolerance is a great start.

Stephanie

I’ve found Shakesville’s insights really helpful, especially when it comes to tracking how we got to this point. She has a very honest and intellectual approach, which is what we need to address these issues squarely. Cup of Jo also had a post this week featuring 8 Ways to Help after Charlottesville, which some may find useful too!

Stephanie

Sorry – I also meant to add that I totally appreciate that you’ve written about this! Such things are too critical to ignore. Thank you for touching upon white privilege and responsibility – it’s an often unpopular response, but SO important.

Sarah

Thank you for speaking out. Every one of need to do so, and especially now. And loudly!

Shan

I feel this.

Jenny B

I’m so glad you wrote this and just constantly wondering how much more we have to take before people take note of the parallels in the run up to WWII. Individuals have a role-but the people in our government better get on the goddamn right side of history.

Alice

I think speaking out and being informed in as important as ever. As White people we need to do our part to speak out against racism and not silently or passively observe. Being a White Ally is not an easy idea to pin down, but some of it has to do with NOT waiting for people of color to educate those who are confused or ignorant. I found the Syllabus for White People to Educate Themselves to be very helpful for conceptualizing Whiteness and Blackness in our culture today: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1By9bUjJ78snEeZuLXNGBdlVMJgEQWMEjR-Gfx8ER7Iw/mobilebasic#heading=h.bi12zdslqy3z

Jennifer

Thank you so much for using your blog to talk about this, Emily. I feel helpless about what happened last weekend too. I don’t believe that most people are inherently evil or deliberately racist, but I do think that complacency by those of us privileged enough to not have to deal with racism (white people) contributed to the events of last weekend. We need to stop looking the other way and think “this doesn’t apply to me.” Because it does. Now I understand that not speaking up or taking action is a passive endorsement of the hateful behavior that took place in Charlottesville. Kudos to you for realizing that too and trying to find a way to help. I’ll be following the comments for suggestions as well.

Wendy Zacuto

Thank you for this. I love your blog already. Now I love you too many are remaining silent as bad things happen.

Katie

Preach Emily! Another fan who is with you 100% on this.

MelTown

Southern liberal here (yes, we exist…in larger numbers than you think)! I have so many thoughts on this. First, I agree with the commenter who supports the alt-right’s free speech, both for the reasons she mentioned, but also because free speech protection only goes so far. These people aren’t protected from losing their jobs, their friends, their family. The more they speak out, the more they will be condemned. Second, I agree that the south has never been free from our complicated past, and racism is certainly alive and thriving, but I have lived all over the country and I can say that this is not just a southern problem. I have heard just as much, and more overt racism in northern states. This is a very real problem in our country, and often “liberal” areas are largely white areas and they are more racist than you would expect. All white people ARE responsible, as you said. It is up to us to stand up to racists. I’m sure all of us have encountered a racist comment or incident and didn’t say anything. We’re taught to be polite and not offend. It’s time to offend people who breed hate. (I… Read more »

StephieZ

I’m a jewish southern liberal and I have thought a lot about this. I completely agree with everything you said. As much as I hate it and as disgusting as those people are who say hateful nasty things, free speech should be allowed. Let them be known and outed…at least we can see who we are fighting against and they can be judged for it.

Amy Byrd

There IS a group specifically set up to attempt to re-educate/pull out neo-nazis and they just lost their funding. Now would be a great time to consider making a donation to them.

https://www.facebook.com/fullfrontalsamb/videos/2073602042867431/

Sarah

👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

Maureen

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. We are living through a terrible time in American history. But you are right – saying “Nazis and white supremacists are bad” is NOT partisan. It is just true. I think now is the time for white people to take a deep look at what we are doing, what we are ignoring, what we aren’t calling out, what we are willing to accept. Start with reading, then start talking to other white people about racism, about privilege, and about what we can do to stop it. I recommend two things to read: 1. What is white privilege: https://nationalseedproject.org/white-privilege-unpacking-the-invisible-knapsack and 2. How to be a better ally: https://www.buzzfeed.com/anotherround/how-to-be-a-better-ally-an-open-letter-to-white-folks?utm_term=.pxwjZKeVA5#.wvylrK2ApJ

It isn’t enough to not be a racist, we must be actively anti-racist.

Sarah

Donating to the NAACP and the ACLU certainly help as they fight legal battles in behalf of the marginalized. If you are white, please don’t sit back. It is our responsibility to help clean up the mess because we have the power. If you think you don’t, please consider that in the US black women are more likely to die during childbirth than white women. Our privilege extends to every facet of life.
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
-Superman

Jessica

The ACLU has and will continue to work on behalf of white supremacists and the like, because they believe everyone has the right to free speech. If you believe neo-nazis should be given space to spew their hate speech, do NOT donate to the ACLU. It’s a bummer, but true.

Brittany

I’ll start this off by saying that I absolutely find the beliefs, thoughts, and actions of Nazi’s and the White Supremacy movement as disgusting and wrong. And I also think you are well within your rights to withhold money from an organization you feel isn’t acting in line with your values. I wanted to give a little support to the ACLU on the off chance that someone comes through and reads your comment, gets outraged and then does no further research on the matter. I’ve included a link to the ACLU’s blog with their take on defending free speech when it comes to hate groups at the bottom of my comment which is more eloquent and explains it better than what I’ve done below. The ACLU is and has defended white supremacist and other hate groups right to free speech and their right to march. They also defend all of our rights to do the same thing no matter how much a minority the view points are. Those of us on this message board are pretty much in agreement that Nazi’s are terrible but when you decide this is the view point that should be banned from being spoken where… Read more »

Caroline

Thank you, Emily. We are in a frightening time. I appreciate your courage in speaking out, and I agree with you.

Sarah

This is part of a post I shared on Monday in response to the Charlottesville march, explaining why my feelings on this were more messy than I expected: “My Dad recently did a genetic test and discovered he carries just under 1% DNA originating from West Africa. “Huh, what does that mean?” you might wonder. Well, it means a few things: First, it means that 8 generations back, my paternal cousins and I have an ancestor who was 99% certainly an enslaved person. The otherwise Lilly-white complexion of the other 127 ancestors in that generation leads to the undeniable conclusion that the other part of that “couple” was a Slave Owner. The offspring of that union was likely also enslaved and also part of a pairing that produced yet another generation of my ancestors. At minimum there are two slaves and two slave owners on our family tree. (It’s very likely that there are other slave owners in that generation as well, only they won’t be outed in our particular lineage.) These white people spreading anger, fear, and violence? They belong to ME. They are my kin, my distant cousins, aunts and uncles, and as such they are my responsibility.… Read more »

Victoria

I’ve been wrestling with feelings of culpability since the events that transpired on Saturday, predominately because I am a white woman, living in the south, benefiting on a daily basis from a system that is so infected with racism we don’t even see it anymore. I march with my brothers and sisters of color at Black lives matter events, I have family members of color and close friends that I advocate for and speak out for on a near daily basis, and still I share culpability. What concerns me more than literal Nazis marching down the street, and and based on conversations I’ve had with friends and family of color – what concerns them more as well, is the subtle racism that has infected America. They can see a Nazi coming at them from a mile away. They can get away from a Nazi. A Nazi is a wolf they can recognize from a far. What they can’t see, and what is inherently dangerous for people of color are the subtle racists- who the vast majority of the time don’t even know they are racist. It’s the liberals who move into a gentrifying neighborhood and decide that the public-school option… Read more »

Ellie

Wow Victoria. I think this is very well said and a really amazing way to look at the state of things. Thank you for providing another angle. I agree with Emily’s words and yours, but hadn’t looked at things is this particular way. I think it’s incredibly well thought out and well spoken.

Jacquelyn

yes, this comment has really moved me. Thank you Victoria.

L.

This is perfectly said, thank you.

Maegan

Totally agree with this. Well said.

Michelle

Yes.

Tracy

Thank you, Victoria. What a well put and important message.

Taylor

Thank you for taking a stand, Emily. I totally understand how scary it can be when in other’s eyes you are just a “blogger” or “designer”, so why post about your political views? Well you are a human, too. And a good human at that. I am an owner of a retail shop and throughout this past year, I have taken a solid stand on the political issues I care about. At first, I had many people angry with me for speaking my political beliefs when I’m just a “brand” — but the truth is, my brand is an extension of who I am. My following and customer base is now a politically driven, creative, strong, diverse, and mix of women. I love that. Now, when I post about donating to the ACLU or SPLC, I don’t receive rude and hateful messages because I have weeded out those people. Am I saying we should all have the same political views? No way! I totally respect people who have different opinions on economics, tradition, and issues such as church/state. But when it comes down to being a blatant racist? That’s where I draw the line. Ways to help? 1. Listen to… Read more »

Lena

Taylor, your “Ways to help” are fantastic. I rarely see these sentiments laid out so simply and succinctly. Grateful you took the time to comment and will be sharing this with my white friends.

Taylor

Still a lot of learning to do myself. Thanks for sharing with friends!
xo
Taylor

Trixie

Without getting into any of the politics of it, I think perhaps you need to educate yourself a little on the constitution. You asked “Since when can they use their ‘first amendment right’ to chant publicly about it? We allowed this??” As a matter of fact, this is the essence of the first amendment. This is EXACTLY what the constitution has guaranteed every citizen for over 240 years. What the constitution does NOT provide is freedom from you being offended by what someone else says. Just because you don’t like or agree with it does not give you, or anyone, the right to shut someone up. Chanting, in and of itself, is not violent. So yes, this is allowed. It is certainly repugnant and vile and offensive, but even the ACLU has protected the rights of the KKK to assemble and express themselves. “Defending the rights of groups that the government tries to censor because of their viewpoints is at the heart of what the First Amendment and the ACLU stand for, even when the viewpoints are not popular,” says Brenda L. Jones, executive director of the ACLU-EM. “If we don’t protect the free speech rights of all, we risk… Read more »

Kelly

Trixie, what happened this weekend was not “free speech”. It was the threatening and harassment of citizens of our country while wielding assault weapons.

Rebecca

The first amendment right only guarantees the right to speak without being arrested — it is purely a protection against the unjust use of law enforcement. What it does NOT protect against is (1) Incitement, defined as the advocacy or immediate use of force or lawlessness, (2) Obscenity, both personally abusive words and words that inflict personal emotional distress unless that are reasonably understood to be hyperbole, and (3) False Statements of Fact, among other limits. There is precedent from Supreme Court cases that define each of these limitations.

Please provide evidence to prove that the verbal chants and personal statements made to counterprotestors were not indeed language of incitement and obscenity. Furthermore, the ACLU’s protection of the KKK’s right to assemble is an entirely different right to that of free speech, and also has its own limitations by law.

Rebecca D.

It’s unfortunate that you;re focusing n a critique of Emily’s statements rather than making a good-faith effort to address how we might move forward. You may be technically correct, but that does not make you right.

Erika

All I can say is thank you! Thank you for not being afraid to speak up. Thank you for using your platform. Thank you for the desire to do more!

Ellie

Thank you for writing this. I also feel speechless and helpless too. Being Jewish certainly compounds it and I feel somewhat targeted in addition to feeling sick over the rhetoric against other minority groups. I keep hearing people say things like, “for anyone who wondered what they would have done in Nazi Germany, this is your chance”. But chance to do what? I can talk about it and be scared until the end of time, but that doesn’t DO anything. I realized I’m especially privileged to live in Boston and have my share of white privilege, but I’m still at a loss. Surely there must be SOMETHING. I vote for the “right” candidates, I try to treat people the right way, but that’s clearly not enough to change things. The one thing I have to respectfully call out is your line about “The south hasn’t ever been free of its past”. It’s not just about the South (I grew up in SC). I think the North vs South thinking is part of what fuels this partisanship rhetoric that ultimately pull apart like minded people. If you look at Democrats vs Republicans, you get a huge divide that’s in the ballpark… Read more »

Bethany R

One way to help is to help our children. I think we can raise up a new generation of more loving, more compassionate, less racist men and women. And it can start with the stories we read them. Erin Boyle of Reading My Tea Leaves blog has an excellent, thoughtful post about this today. http://www.readingmytealeaves.com

c

thank you.

Deb

Thank you for writing this, Emily. My experience with you through your blog is that your heart is in the right place, and you take pains not to speak outside your experience. I find it admirable. Every single white American benefits from racism, even if we don’t intend or want to. If there are white Americans who don’t want to examine the past, examining the present would be a good place to start. Uniform non-violence is an excellent ideal. I don’t know that expecting it from people being threatened by Nazis is a priority. It would be very easy for me to preach “peace” at a time like this, for one reason: I’m not the one they’re coming for. Yet. “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence… Read more »

Ellen

Well said.

Janelle

The line between free speech and hate speech is a legal one and is actually very clear. Simply put, where speech is so hateful and public that it invites people to commit acts of violence on the group against which the hatred is directed, it stops being “speech” and turns into violence and at that point is no longer afforded constitutional protection. The question then becomes, were the alt right protestors simply expressing their views (which must be protected) or were they trying to incite violence against visible minorities? I wasn’t there but I am guessing (based on what happened next) it was the latter. Incidentally in Germany if you even put a Nazi symbol on a surface in a public space, you get arrested. They know first hand the danger of giving hatred a microphone of any ilk.

Christina

Yeah, totally agree with you emily. I do also wish our last president would have done more in regards to this matter. Groups like Black Lives Matter (who started out with the best of intentions) and other “anti white” groups certainly dont help to unite. Not once were these groups condemned when some members did something hateful (and there have been several incidents and DEATHS). The truly hateful signs I saw from people at the womans march, was also appauling (Im not speaking about the signs that spoke for actual womens rights. Im talking about the ones tht had nothing to do with the event). Nothing about extremism represents “love.” Being of mixed races myself, and speaking from my mostly immigrant family, we just put our best foot forward everyday and do our best to contribute to society. Making connections with other citizens and putting out love & kindness is the most inportant thing in my opinion.

Ashley O

So agree. Thank you for speaking out! (Also: how ticky-tacky were those tiki torches?!)

Victoria

Thank you for not remaining silent on this issue.

Brenda Kliethermes

There is a difference between partisanship/disagreeing and racism/hating. The more we can separate those and see them for what they are, the more likely we can move forward. Thank you for stating this so clearly.

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