Charlottesville, VA: A Symptom, Not the Root

18922601_470531393289776_4669336588844077026_o

Two and a half months ago, my husband (A) and I were sitting in our car one block from the Historic Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, VA when we saw a group of people walk across the road and into Emancipation Park.  We could tell it was a protest of some kind.  Grabbing our things, we jumped out of the car and ran to see what was happening.  Little did we know the gravity of events that would occur such a short time later in the exact same spot.

I have so many words, thoughts, and feelings about what happened on Saturday, August 13, 2017.  Anger, sadness, disbelief, and incredulity are a few of them.  I have read countless articles, scrolled through Facebook far too much, and engaged in deep conversation about the events with A.

What makes my blood boil is the inconsistency of people.  Numerous first-hand accounts confirm the counter-protesters fought back in self-defense…yet so many choose to believe the contrary.  They condemn violence “on all sides”, as if what happened was equally evil.  Violence is not equal.  In the case of Charlottesville, videos and individuals’ stories line up—the police stood back.  They did not engage like they would have if a Black Lives Matter protest had turned violent.  People did not die at the hands of police like they might if the groups had been filled with black and brown people.  Yet, some still insist that the counter-protesters were the instigators.  Of course, when the nation’s own president takes 48 hours to denounce the racist groups and their violence by name…it makes a bit more sense why so many refuse to condemn them.

People continue to defend Donald Trump, claiming he is not the reason these violent and racist events are occurring with rising frequency…yet statistics show that in the past two years, since he declared his candidacy for president, that racist crimes and actions have risen (here is a report citing incidents since Trump’s election).  That leads to the many who don’t understand the root of this problem (because it’s not DT).  They claim the decisions to take down Confederate monuments is starting these riots, but that is only a symptom—a side effect—of a centuries long problem called racism and white supremacy.  People are taking a stand and saying these monuments do not belong in our town squares and in front of government buildings, places of honor and recognition.  They need to go in a museum, as a relic of the past mistakes the United States made in allowing white people to lord over black people, as masters and murderers.

I have often asked myself how I would have responded to the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany.  Then, I wondered if I would have joined the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.  Now, I no longer have to wonder: I am part of the movement to the fight against racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, ethnocentrism, and much more.  It is wrong.  There is no place for it if we are going to love each other.

What keeps running through my mind is: if we love others and desire change/equality/etc., we must be willing to sacrifice our preferences, desires, and privileges.  Without sacrifice, our selfishness and pride will prevail, and hatred, violence, and death will continue.  Therefore, if we believe love must win, it means putting ourselves in the shoes of others and thinking about their experiences, their history, and their lives and asking ourselves how ________ will affect them.  It means placing someone else above ourselves…especially when we (white people) are holding the flag of privilege.

Advertisements

Was the Women’s March Truly for All Women?

 Source

Some time has passed.  Let’s talk about The Women’s March and some connecting issues:

I was stunned by the people who said they could not support the Women’s March because of the pro-choice stance—not because of my views on abortion, but because I had not heard dissent for that issue (except for the feminist pro-life group’s removal from the list of event partners) and had not even considered it as a key component of the peaceful protests taking place on January 21, 2017.  However, since reading the first person’s perspective on the topic, it has been running through my head, touching on arguments for and against and trying to reconcile it all—as well as great frustration that one issue could cause people to throw out an entire cause.

When I first heard about the planned marches, I was excited about women (and others) joining together to protest a president who speaks of women with disdain, openly brags about his affairs, and even jokes about grabbing a woman by her “pussy”—none of which is acceptable for a human being to do, let alone a leader.  Additionally, the protests would draw attention to and advocate against the perpetuation of inequality in the United States towards women, LGBTQIA, and minority races and groups, as well as promoting healthcare access, stopping police violence, improving the justice system and incarceration flaws, and much more.

As I believe in the importance of education prior to establishing an opinion, I read many views from women about the protests, articles, and the official statement of Guiding Vision and Definition of Principles from The Women’s March.  I weighed my own (evolving) views on the issues of anti- and pro- abortion, but still my frustration grew.

On both sides there is rigidity emanating from certain pockets of perspectives: on the left some tout open-mindedness to ideologies until they bump into one on which they disagree and then they bash them.  On the right, some hold so tightly to their views that they sacrifice even possibly changing someone’s perspective because of their dogmatic approach.  Both groups sabotage their own cause.

Truthfully, I understood the frustration certain women felt who support many (if not all other) causes outlined by the Women’s March on Washington with the exception of pro-choice ideologies—feeling shunned by a force that speaks to inclusivity and diversity because they disagreed on one issue, rather than being welcomed despite the subject of disagreement, is disheartening.  However, I disagree with the decision to remove support from the protests based on a difference of opinion on the matter of abortion.

Bridges can never be built if people constantly choose offense.  This is what happens all too frequently—one side does something and the other side chooses to react by boycotting and solidifying their perspective even more (does Target at Christmastime ring a bell?).  This is a dangerous practice because it does not allow people to grow and change over time, nor does it allow people to live in peace and respect even while disagreeing.

Imagine if all those who said, “I can’t support this because of those marching who are pro-choice” or “Pro-life women were excluded from the event” had chosen to go to a protest, post support on social media, or some other outward show DESPITE the decision made by some committee somewhere—what might have happened?  Perhaps those who do actually have it out for pro-life people might have recognized who was choosing the high road.  Maybe conversations could have taken place causing a formerly rigid pro-life supporter to take a more understanding approach to the plight in which some women find themselves, causing them to look to abortion.  The possibilities are endless.

But, instead, women started stating that the millions marching didn’t represent them.  They claimed they are over feminism.  They said they couldn’t support any of it because of one (already legal) issue.

The cause—those marches—was about so much more than whether or not abortion is right.  This cause was to support women and humans everywhere against oppression, inequality, and injustice.  It’s about supporting each other rather than tearing each other down.  The people who claim they are over feminism can pretend everything is “okay” because of the millions of women who have fought for decades for their rights.

Women everywhere are facing the possibility of their affordable and accessible birth control being taken away because of a womanizing president.  Black and brown people are looking at an even more empowered police force and greater potential for violence because of a white, privileged man sitting in the White House. Immigrants are fearing deportation from a country whose Statue of Liberty welcomes “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.  There are so many issues that affect the sanctity and preservation of life beyond the uterus.  In fact, consider how all these other causes will impact the lives of the unborn once they enter the world as contributing human beings.

In the wake of a monumental and beautiful outpouring of support around the country and the world, I am thankful for the millions who came out to show their support for the causes listed by the Women’s March on Washington committee.  I’m thrilled that so many were able to participate.  For those who chose to rise above disagreements on certain issues, I applaud you.  For those who felt they couldn’t get behind a cause that included pro-choice ideologies—I encourage you to consider seeking ways you can support this cause in a capacity that doesn’t compromise your beliefs so that greater good can be achieved.

Building bridges takes effort—choosing to love and show understanding for fellow humans is a greater calling than self-righteous indignation—which only builds walls.  And we have enough walls.