This past weekend, I attended my best friend’s wedding in Omaha. It was my first time west of the Missouri River and the furthest west in the United States that I’ve ever been. The wedding was beautiful and I got to see a lot of friends from high school that I haven’t seen in years. My husband and I fell in love with the city and are considering moving there in the next few years to raise our family.
We came home late last night. As we unpack our bags from this trip, we find ourselves packing them right back up, as we leave for Atlanta on Saturday to visit family and then head to Walt Disney World to celebrate our anniversary and the end of summer. I should be extremely excited. Don’t get me wrong; I am! I’ve been counting down the days to this since we booked our trip way back in March. However, I find my heart sadden by the events that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia this past Saturday.
For those who may not have heard about what happened this weekend, there was a “white nationalist” rally, called “Unite the Right,” took place in Lee Park in Charlottesville with torches, sticks, and guns. Three people were killed and many others were injured. Counter-protesters met the group and violence broke out. Reports indicate that the “Right to Unite” rally was declared unlawful and the governor declared a state of emergency.
Two hours later, a 20-year-old white male from Ohio rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters with his vehicle and then backed up to flee the scene, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. Ten were listed in good condition on Sunday by the University of Virginia Health System and nine were released. There’s no word on how the other nine are doing. Two Virginia State Troopers, 48-year-old Lt. H. Jay Cullen, and 40-year-old Trooper Berke M.M. Bates died in a helicopter crash in a wooded area after monitoring the events. The crash is still under investigation.
The “Unite the Right” rally event organizer blames the law enforcement officials and the government for the violence that broke out. Holly Yan, Devon M. Sayers, and Steve Almasy of CNN report that the organizer says that the police failed to maintain law and order, protect the First Amendment rights of participates and provide for their safety (August 14, 2017).
Let’s not blame the terrorists, and yes, these people are terrorists. They met to cause harm to people who weren’t like them, who didn’t have the same views and values as them, and whomever they deemed “different.” This was an act of terrorism at its finest, and yet again people are refusing to call it that. I feel this is because the people who carried out these attacks were white and they don’t want to acknowledge that white people can be terrorists.
I’ve heard so many people’s reaction to this. Most are saying, “This is not America.” I even found myself thinking and saying this to my husband as we watched the events unfold in Charlottesville. I found myself coming to the harsh reality that this is the United States of America that we will in.
Only in America is it okay for white people to fly the flags of two of our nation’s enemies (the Confederacy and Nazi Germany flags) and not an eye is batted, but if another country’s flag is displayed by a colored person, others tell them to go home to their native country. Only in America do white people get away with being members of the Ku Klux Klan and having replicas of colored people burning at the stake or being hung, but a group such as the Black Live Matter is frowned upon.
In America, if you are a white, Christian male and you decide to shoot up a theater, a school, a mall, a temple, or a baseball diamond; bomb a church or school; or use a vehicle to harm people, you have a mental health issue, but if you’re colored or any other religion, you are a terrorist.
Only in America a group of violent, white men are met with no police presence, but a group of peaceful colored protesters are met with riot gear, tear gas, and tanks. Only when people start to realize that there have been more terrorist attacks carried out by white men acting on their own accord in the United States than by any other minority can we start to move on and fix this very broken nation.
I’m a white American myself; female, but white nonetheless. I don’t want colored people looking at me in fear that I may agree with these racist, bigoted idiots, especially when I see the logo of my favorite sports team being carried around on shields by men who are beating on others. Yes, both the National Hockey League and the Detroit Red Wings are trying to sue this group for harmful misconduct and representation of a copyrighted logo, but it doesn’t make the fan base feel any safer potentially wearing it out in public. I witnessed many tweets and my husband’s precaution of wearing his Red Wings shirt out of fear of repercussions. What about those who are colored and enjoy the Red Wings as well? Could they be met with violence for simply wearing the Red Wings logo?
I find myself in the middle. As I said, I’m a white female who doesn’t agree with these terrorists. I see the fear in colored people’s eyes when trying to live their daily lives but knowing that they could be stopped for some made up reason or shot or beaten up simply because they are not white. I’ve read the headlines of people being beaten up because they are thought to be Islamic or Muslim. I hear the comments from white people saying, “I’m not racist, but…” or trying to justify why they support the things that have been happening since Trump took office.
I dread going on social media in fear of what I may find. I find myself avoiding the news because I know it’ll end in another tear-filled night for me. I shy away from certain people because I don’t want to listen to the hate in their voice. I feel myself becoming more and more bottled up as my usual outgoingness could be threatening. I stay in more because I in can feel the tension in the air sizzling and soon boiling over. I feel so isolated.
I fear that a civil war will break out in our country. I feel it’ll very much be a race war: white against colored. Those of us who are white and don’t agree with these bigots may be seen as traitors to the country and be put to trial. The colored people may not trust these allies in fear of traitors. We may not be safe. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself and it may not happen. However, the trend I am witnesses points to this. The country is more divided than it has been since the Civil War. I fear if we don’t stop this division now, we’ll never be able to have peace.
Racism, sexism, and homophobias have been major issues in this country since it began. I know these are not issues that can be solved overnight. I agree that the United State has come a long way since the nation began, but there is still quite a long way to go. It will not truly be a wonderful nation until every citizen is treated equally. Not until every citizen can feel safe walking out their doors or being themselves in public can this nation flourish. Recent events make it harder and harder to speak out or do something about it, but we must stand up against this divide. I believe this country can be great, but the way that we’re going at it is not the right way.
I know I’ll be called a snowflake or whatever noun people use to describe progressive thinkers. I’ve been told that I’ve been brainwashed by school into going against the norms of society. I call it an awakening. I won’t back down. I’ll stand for those who have fallen. I want an America where everyone is safe and treated equally, where everyone can live off the wages of one job, pursue the dreams they have, and live peacefully next to each other. We can do that, but we must wake up first.