A dear friend of our family posted on Facebook yesterday something to the effect that she and her husband worked hard and sacrificed much in their lives for their children to be educated in a private school, attend college and ensure that their needs were met. And every bit of that is true. She raised three wonderful children who are grown raising another generation of wonderful children. But then she went on to say that it made her sick that kids in college that have a good chance too, I guess like the one she and her husband worked hard to provide for her own kids, and have student loans, whatever that has to do with anything I can only imagine, are wasting their time “tearing down statues when they could be working hard to have a good future for themselves.” I was not silent.
Before I tell you my response, I must say that I have ignored for the most part posting anything to her wall for two years as she has promoted her support of Trump and the bigoted hateful ideas he spewed during the election. I mourned her as I did many last year who I basically caste into a category of “I will never forget your direct choice to side with hate.” I choose instead to be very vocal on my own wall and then anyone who doesn’t like it can unfollow or unfriend me if they have a problem with what I have to say.
I have no doubt that many of you out there have experienced similar situations with people you love over the course of the past few years as race has been at the forefront of our lives. It’s always at the forefront of black lives and more recently a constant in many white lives, much to the dismay of many of them…
As I said, I am very boisterous on my own wall in response to people in my life who choose to side with Trump and his hate, who choose to misunderstand the Black Lives Matter movement as the new civil rights movement of our time. Those friends and family who continue to believe the lies spread about Black Lives Matter, who is continuing to fight for the marginalized and for an end to systems and policies that are literally killing black and brown lives simply because of the color of their skin and because of fear and hatred. Systems and policies and laws that both the Republican and Democratic parties have propagated based on white supremacy but given a “color blind” name like the War on Drugs, the War on Crime, the privatization of the prison system, the growing militarized police state, the guarantee that if you are a felon you may never vote again, the school to prison pipeline put in place shortly after “desegregation” began. All these systems, laws, and policies that both our conservative and liberal white elite controlled government backed fully. Both sides in this case are absolutely to blame… If only Trump had been referring to the three branches of our government when he said “I think there is blame on both sides.” If only he had been speaking of the bigoted government that made a home for his rhetoric… If it walks like a new Jim Crow, and talks like a new Jim Crow, it’s a new Jim Crow… Michelle Alexander did that research.
But after what happened in Charlottesville on Friday night, after listening to our bigoted president’s response about blame on “both” sides, after sitting with my girls and explaining to them what kind of country they are living in and how hard we are fighting to change their future for the better, I had to directly respond to my friend, someone I have loved my whole life and who I know loves me and my family. And yet that is simply not enough in this nation at this time. I encourage each and every one of you to do the same. Respond. Speak out. Do not remain silent. My sister just reminded me of Elie Weisel’s quote, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Please steal any and all parts of my response if they can help you speak out. Now is the time to choose your side.
Here was my response to someone I love in regards to students, in Charlottesville who, let me repeat, thinks are wasting their time “tearing down statues when they could be working hard to have a good future for themselves.” ….
I wrote, “They are doing just that. Working to have a good future for themselves as well as supporting a good future for everyone in this nation. We will have a nation that either eliminates white supremacy and it’s blatant forefathers who lost the war and regardless of a lost war the bigoted policies that still pervade every crevice of society or we will build a new nation where that is eliminated from its foundation. Statues are a start and should have been gone long ago. Send them to a museum and tell the story of the civil war properly. We were founded on liberty and justice for all white men. Women were a far second and black people were slaves who kept this nation running smoothly and upon whose backs “democracy” and capitalism advanced. The civil war was the beginning of ending that. The civil rights movement got us a little closer.
But policies are still as rooted in place as the statues of the Confederacy are, that allow for white supremacy to thrive. And a lot of white people are not liking the laws that have changed that put everyone on equal footing as it should have been all along. From that equal footing people can work hard or not and reap the benefit or not… From an equitable playing field. But as we stand right now there is still much work to be done to establish equal footing for all Americans.
My daughters are going to walk around in a nation that isn’t propping up losers in a war about whether or not their state had a right to hold them as property. We can go to a museum and read history books about the bigots of the Confederacy. But this nation is moving fast toward liberty and justice for ALL and my girls and my family will be working overtime (day jobs and then volunteering our extra hours) to dismantle white supremacy based statues, policies, and laws and there are a lot so we have much work to do. We are coming for all of them. We are just getting started. Blacks were slaves for hundreds of years and have technically only been “free” for about 55 years. So we all have a ton of work to do to ensure they are truly free and through their true freedom we can ALL be free. There’s no either or but the fight for ALL to be equal and that isn’t true yet. But it will be.
So buckle up! These young people aren’t having it anymore. They are going to go to school full time, work, and use student loans and in their spare time use their voice to help dismantle everything bigoted in this nation. It’s all coming down. White people should have always been living in a country where everyone has the same baseline of privileges that white people have always been afforded in this nation. I know plenty of black people who have worked just as hard as you have and are still in poverty because of policies that kept them so. We are all simply fighting to dismantle a system that has worked to uplift a few at the expense of the rest. We will have liberty and justice for ALL or we will work to create something else truly founded on that. No body is trying to take anything away from anyone. This movement that we are a part of just wants to be afforded the same policies that have propped up white people, especially wealthy white people, for centuries in this nation. And we are never going to stop until those rights are truly everyone’s and the policies and laws in place that prevent that are obsolete. And there are a lot of white people, black people, Hispanic and Latinx people, and black and brown of many descents, every religion and no religions under the ecplipsing sun, who are becoming a fast majority and who will have liberty and justice and everyone who isn’t ok with that will either get on board or revolt in a way that will cost lives until we truly have a nation where ALL LIVES MATTER. ALL OF THEM. Your family, my family, the refugee family, the immigrant family, the black family living in poverty, the white family living in poverty, the Muslim family, and the Christian family, the Jewish community, the Catholic community, the Muslim community, the hindu community, the protestant christian community, the atheist community, the liberals conservative and everyone in between. All of us. And there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. There is nothing wrong with our groups that are working to change this system so all of us are free. That is at no one’s expense and all of us in this nation’s gain. And any voice that casts out entire races, religions and genders for their own gain, as white supremacist bigots do, as the men and women who carried torches in Charlottesville on Friday night did, (alt right, nationalists or whatever names they have that hold the white man as the highest in the land) will be defeated. Either people are working for everyone to have the same right as everyone else, like these students were Friday night against, or people are bigots. There is no in between anymore.
And furthermore, sadly, despite the fact that I am working my ass off for all of this, I believe entirely that it is too late for any of it to actually work and I think revolution is near, the terrible war kind not the beautiful internal magical kind. I think that there will be war here on this “land of the free” and the “home of the brave” is going to be tested dearly. Because freedom is subjective now a days. Facts are subjective and it’s too late for reason in a nation filled with such hatred towards one another simply over being truly free. So I’m raising my girls to be a force for liberty and justice for ALL in what may come after this nation’s fall. Because we are beyond divided. We are beyond any promise of agreement on any of this and it’s too late.
So my family will continue along with those kids in Charlottesville protesting bigotry and hate, to use our voices in this democracy as long as it stands as a democracy and then if we are here after it all goes down in flames then we will rise up and help to create a community, or state, or nation, where liberty and justice for ALL can be established from the beginning on the backs, blood and sweat of ALL of us working together. It will take the open mindedness and love of beautiful children like my girls and your granddaughter, who I love dearly, to create it but I believe in them. So may the hard working students on financial aid in Charlottesville and across our nation standing up to hate and bigotry continue to do so and use their free voices to speak out against any symbol or policy or law that casts one race over another, that props up and gives credence to a despicable time in our nation’s history that must be remembered for its inhumanity rather than be honored with accolades and statues and flags. May they do it for “a good future for themselves” as well as their fellow Americans.”