August 13, 2017

I’m Embarrassed to be White Today.

For elephant’s full coverage, and photos, and video, and quotes: here.


I’m shaking this morning, from my shoulders down to my fingertips, hovering unsteadily over my keyboard.

I woke up early wanting to write about the White Supremacy Rally that had taken place in Charlottesville, Virginia, and googled it to see what had transpired overnight.

Then I saw this picture (above) of an unidentified black man being beaten with poles by white rioters.

Immediately, my stomach turned, my heart fell, and tears began to make their way down my face—because this is not the world that I want to live in.

Many of us have quietly accepted President Trump, with supporters and lobbyists saying “just give him a chance.” We have watched men like Philando Castile be killed unjustly by the very people who were assigned to protect the lives and rights of those who call this nation home.

But how much longer are we going to sit in complacency just waiting for things to get better? Hoping that somehow the senseless violence and racially-motivated killings will stop? How long are we going to pretend that there isn’t a bigger issue at play here?

The reality is that the minute President Trump took office, his presence encouraged those who breed off of hate. Our nation has not become great again; in fact, we’ve slipped decades back into the racial prejudices and stereotypical mindsets that permeated our country during the Civil Rights Movement.

I’m ashamed of my skin color this morning. I’m sickened that for those who like to group people by skin color, I am now placed in the same category as these men who unfairly and brutally beat this man.

This is not the America that I want to raise my children in, nor is it one I am proud of.

Recently, the NAACP issued their first travel warning within the United States for Missouri because of the racially-charged environment and safety concerns, and now we’ve had this violent and disgusting rally in Virginia.

When is enough going to be enough?

I’ve written several pieces about the Black Lives Matter movement, and have seen many comments about “don’t white lives matter too; don’t all lives matter?” But, those are the thoughts and words that also allow days like yesterday to happen—because they suggest that we are already equal.

Sadly, this photo shows just how far we have to go.

Looking through the pictures of the rally, I began to wonder what it would have been like if a mob of African Americans had filled city streets with tiki torches shouting and yelling for white people to die. I don’t think we would be seeing comments about the importance of free speech, nor do I think that we as a nation would have passively looked on while they beat unarmed white men.

But because it’s white men rioting, they get a free pass—at least that’s what it seems we are being taught here.

Polo shirts on white men are innocent while a hoodie on a black man means danger. White men can talk about killing and racial supremacy, but black men are called radicals or activists if they hold Black Lives Matter signs. It’s okay to hold hate demonstrations because we’re all entitled to freedom of speech, right? No.

While I was attending college in Milwaukee in 2002 I heard on the local news that the annual national Klu Klux Klan rally was being held in the city that year. I remember standing in my dorm room, frozen. I realized that growing up somewhat protected in the northeast kept me safe and ignorant from the hate that still secretly lived in our nation.

I remember being so sickened that I called my mother, changed my finals, and was determined to leave the city before the rally took place—I didn’t want to be anywhere near a city that allowed for the support and hate of others.

And now, I look around with tears blurring my vision and I wonder why are so many of us who believe in equality, and see the beauty in differences, having our voices silenced within the disgusting violence of rallies like the one in Virginia?

I’m embarrassed to be white this morning because I see exactly why there is so much anger toward white people; the truth is that after seeing what I have—I’d hate me too. Not that we should judge anyone by the color of their skin, but the fact remains that we as a nation are letting not just our black brothers and sisters down, but anyone from a background other than Caucasian or European.

We have let the ball drop on equality, and yes, having a president who was endorsed by The Klan is only perpetuating the hate that seems so rampant right now. Am I completely blaming our president? No, but that doesn’t mean that his presence or beliefs are actually helping us either.

I look at the faces of the men and women in the pictures from the “Unite the Right” rally and I feel sick inside. These are people that I could have passed on the street, whose children could have played with my own, and here they are chanting and yelling that being white somehow gives them supremacy over others.

I am embarrassed this morning, but I’m also fired up because I am done being the quiet voice of reason. We can’t ignore what this means for our nation, and I don’t care if you are black, white, or any other color of the rainbow, the truth is we all need to speak up. It doesn’t matter if it’s happening in your backyard or not; it doesn’t even matter if you think you can make a difference.

We need to step up now; we need to spread our message like wildfire across this nation, so loud that it drowns out the disturbing cries of white supremacy.

Because at this point, saying nothing and hoping someone else will is the same as standing by and watching hate win.

Because our complacency is the same as our approval.


Relephant reads:

The Best Explanation Ever for Why Black Lives Matter still Matters.

Race in America: A Message for those who “Don’t Know Where to Start.”

My Deafening Silence in the Face of Hate.


Author: Kate Rose
Image: Twitter
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Emily Bartran
Social Editor: Emily Bartran

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