5 Things Organizers In Charlottesville Want You to Do to Help Fight Hate
Over the weekend, a white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Va., ignited racial tensions and turned tragic when a car ran down counter-protestors, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. In the aftermath, President Donald Trump declined to condemn the hate groups immediately and made comments equating torch-wielding neo-Nazis and KKK members with counter-protestors opposing bigotry—which spurred spirited backlash around the world.
After watching this unfold, many are asking: What can we do to help? There are online and donation-based actions you can take to lend a hand right now. It doesn't end there, though. Our news cycle is quick to evolve, but the hate underlying this incident is not, so we spoke to anti-racism organizers in Charlottesville about how to continue fighting bigotry in the weeks and months to come. Here's what they want you to do—and keep doing, no matter where in the world you live.
Amy-Sarah Marshall, President of Charlottesville Pride
"One action to be taken—in whatever you do, be it a business, friendship, religious, whatever—practice what some term radical welcome. Go beyond having an open-door policy, and specifically invite marginalized people to apply for jobs, join your book club, eat at your restaurant, be a friend. The rainbow sticker is one universal way to tell LGBTQ people, for instance, that they are welcome and wanted. Often marginalized people 'read' whether people or places are safe for them to enter and usually err on the side of safety by not even attending or visiting. So you need to provide deliberate, explicit messages of inclusion and welcome," said Marshall.
"Of course, getting safe-space trained and diversity training bolsters knowledge to inform that inclusive intention ... I think they go hand in hand. I offer this tip because here in Charlottesville, our town can be very segregated, and good-intentioned straight white people will often vocalize frustration about this, without realizing that black, brown, immigrant, queer communities do not put themselves at risk or guess they are included, because most of the time we are not."
The University of Virginia's Brody Jewish Center, Hillel
"Opposing hate is not something to do in silos. Join forces with other groups that share your values. At Hillel, we often partner with diverse faith groups and minority groups on campus to share perspective that can foster understanding," the center told InStyle.com. "Doing this amplifies a message of unity and mutual respect. Try having a small gathering or dinner party where you discuss a topic, let everyone speak, focus on active listening and learn what experiences create each person's view."
"Reach out to allies from churches, schools, clubs, and other civic groups. Create a diverse coalition. Include children, police, and the media. Gather ideas from everyone, and get everyone involved," said the center. "Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance by the perpetrators, the public, and—worse—the victims. Community members must take action; if we don’t, hate persists."
Mary Bauer, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Justice Center
"It is not enough to take down the symbols of racial oppression, although I certainly would encourage communities to do that," Bauer said. "We need to dismantle and fix the systems that cause the greatest harm: The school-to-prison pipeline, our broken immigration system, and mass incarceration. Let's work to tackle the greatest sources of injustice in our communities—in addition to the symbols."
Janette Boyd Martin, President of the Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP
"Write letters to the editor on behalf of the community," said Martin.