They have taken off their hoods; and many of you have opened up your eyes to the reality of white supremacist terror. We mourn the violence and yes we will cry, we will pray, and we come together in love. But love is not enough.
While many of you absorb the shock – to many of us this is nothing new. They have taken off their hoods, and white people, I need you to open your eyes to the ways that racism – the insidious, specific disease of American racism – creeps into your lives and thoughts.
They’ve taken off their hoods; and I need you to open your ears to coded racist language and dog whistles, to open up your mouth even when your friend insists it’s just a joke, to open up your minds to the reality that white supremacy is a spectrum that is perpetuated institutionally, culturally, and in everyday, mundane interactions. This fight takes brave, compassionate and uncomfortable reflection, conversation, and action.
This fight is yours. Not being Nazi is not enough. Being outraged by Nazis on television is not enough. We need you to recognize and repudiate racism, antisemitism, and all identity based hatred before it reaches its’ ugliest, most violent, and torch bearing forms.
The president of the United States is a Nazi sympathizer and he disgusts me. But this is not solely about him. This is about us. This is about you.
As horrified and impassioned as we are in this moment, these headlines will fade and so might your outrage. Your profile picture will return to normal and without the visceral emotions and daily barrage of nazi visuals – the fight against racism and white supremacy may just slip down your priority list.
They’ve taken off their hoods and they’re counting on you to put up your blinders. We need you to stay vigilant, for this fight is yours. Resist the urge to feel satisfied because you aren’t one of them – you’re one of the good ones. Check and challenge that satisfaction.
White people, I don’t need you talk to your black friend about racism. I need you talk to your white friends about racism! Talk to your friends; gather your cousins and your children. Your children are returning to school and the fairy tale that racists abruptly disappeared after the 60s might not hold up.
They have taken off their hoods and make no mistake they are emboldened, they are organized, they are armed. They are counting on you to deprioritize this fight.
Heather Heyer’s final Facebook post read: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention”. I urge you in your engagements with institutional power, with the culture around you, at your workplace, with yourself, with the children in your lives. Pay Attention.
***Photos by Brittany Anzel App