If you have been keeping up with recent events lately, it has been impossible to turn on the news without hearing about Charlottesville, Virginia. The vicious murder of a young woman, Heather Heyer, by a white terrorist garnered national attention, and rightfully so. I believe Americans have the opportunity to use this atrocious event as a way to address the institutionalized racism that has never ceased to plague us. But I wonder, are we using this event for that purpose? Or, is it creating heightened animosity towards minorities and continued deflection from this often awkward topic?
While our initial reactions to tragedies like these may be apathetic, it is imperative that America takes this time to understand and deal with the white supremacy that fueled this attack. Many may believe that the number of white supremacists diminish as society grows increasingly more liberal, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Currently, there are 99 neo-Nazi groups, 130 outposts of the Ku Klux Klan, 43 neo-Confederate groups, 78 racist skinhead groups and 100 white nationalist groups, with the numbers only expected to rise. And unfortunately, there are more people with these same ideologies that are unaffiliated with the afore mentioned groups. These people, regardless of whether they are in a hate group, hide in our courts, law enforcement and everyday establishments we visit. It is time for people who know of white supremacists and disagree with it to step up. The time to sit around is no more. The only way we can heal America’s unresolved issues with race is by sitting and talking about it with those we love. Yes, it might be uncomfortable at first, and no, they might not listen. But any small seed you plant into them may have the power to change the way they think and act forever.
Even though I completely understand the hesitation to speak about race, people are dying because of other’s silence. Our silence and attempts to normalize white supremacy is exactly what they hope for, as it gives their ideas validity and a platform. If no one does, the progress of race relations in America will continue to remain stagnant and Heather’s name will die in vain.