Reader, I'm at a loss. I just wrote two full blogs and then deleted them both. Here we go, for the third time.
I'm a white, middle class woman living in America, and I'm very good at making things appear to be pleasant. I like to see people getting along. I like to see people falling in love. I like laughing. I like smiling. I like "everything to be ok."
So when everything's not ok, my first response is to try to scramble and make everything ok again. I want to fix situations until everyone and everything is fine. At the end of the day, I'm a person who likes her niceties. (Bless my heart.)
But after Charlottesville, there are no shallow niceties or surface changes to remedy such deep-rooted hate.
It hit me this week that peace is not something a person can scramble to fix with charm and diplomacy. To all of my minority friends, I'm sorry I'm so late to the party.
When faced with hate like that of the out-in-the-open Neo-Nazi movement, you can't achieve peace by silently carrying on with life. Or at least I can't. Their hate is too damn big. I can't cover it up or hide from it or hope it doesn't get my family or pray it goes away. If I want peace, I have to meet their hatred head-on, look it in the eye, and tell it I will not stand for it.
But I didn't see Neo-Nazis this week to look in the eye.
I'll tell you what I did see. On Monday, I saw a few gay friends tapping their feet while I sang peace songs. On Thursday, I saw a group of ex-con minorities show me the tables they are learning to build for my restaurant. And on Saturday, I saw six black kids playing the house piano while I worked on my restaurant.
I think sometimes--when the oppressor can't be reached--we have to spend our energy elevating the oppressed.
To be clear, I spoke out this week to any of my friends and family still supporting hate, especially hateful people like Donald Trump. (Side rant: the President of our country ran on a campaign of hate. He emboldened hate groups, hate speech, and hateful actions. He is still emboldening them. If you are continuing to defend the actions of the President, you are also emboldening hatred. We all heard his comments about there being two sides to the violence in Charlottesville. To which I continue to say, THERE WERE NOT TWO SIDES. There were the Nazis--who want to wipe out entire races of people--and there were the people who stood up to them. These people are not the "alt-left." In WWII, were the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising a group of "violent alt-leftists" who got in the way of the Nazis peacefully doing their job????)
I could obviously go on here. But I'm not going to.
The point is, we can't always meet a white supremacist and tell them their hate has no place with you. But you can look around. Keep open eyes and ears. I promise you, there is a marginalized person in walking distance that you could ask about the best way for you to be an ally. And sometimes it is just as important to give energy to a good cause as it is to try to strip it away from something hateful.
I'm leaving you with a picture of the kids who swung by my building this week. These bright faces are our future. Let's keep working to make it a good one. -Em