Two years ago, I watched as my city was burned and bruised and torn apart by a climatic event after decades of uncomfortable and unjust situations. Like a lot of people, I was hurt and angry and prayed for a peace that I knew wasn’t going to come easily. It’s not a secret that I am a hippy at heart. I don’t believe in hate or violence, I am vocal about my anti death penalty views and while I support my troops, I am, at my core, anti-war. So, to watch civil unrest and unnecessary destruction, knowing the divide that it would eventually cause, I sat heartbroken. Recently, I came across something I wrote around the height of this time when I was feeling attacked and on the defensive. It was a story of the first time racism fell into my world when a couple of girls told me to “Stick to my own kind” because they didn’t like that their friend Chris and I were making googoo eyes at each other. However, it began with a defensive and frustrated rant…
“I am so tired of people telling me that because I am white and middle class I couldn’t possibly understand race or racial tension or understand what a black person feels walking down the street. You don’t know me. Your assumptions about my lack of intelligence to understand or empathize are offensive and VERY racist. Yes, I am privileged. Yes, I went to a predominantly white high school and have mostly white friends. Yes, I have never had to live in the ‘ghetto’ and I have never spoken ‘hood’ aside from when I’m blaring my Trina down the highway. But, I DO know about racism and I DO understand how people can get hurt from seeing a young man of their race get killed for what they perceive as being the wrong color in the wrong place. Let me tell you what I know about race….”
You see, civil rights history has always been a passion for me. In second grade, while my friends were ordering Goosebumps and Babysitter’s Little Sitter books from the Scholastic books, I was ordering books on Abraham Lincoln, the Holocaust and Rosa Parks. I grew up in Northern Virginia which meant several trips to DC growing up and being constantly engrossed in American History. My place of calm was at the top of the Lincoln Memorial, reciting the Gettysburg Address and aside from the Inaugural Dresses at the Smithsonian, because let’s face it…I’ve always been a sucker for iconic fashion, my favorite exhibit was the Civil Rights Movement section. I vividly remember the first time I toured the Holocaust Museum because it was the first time I sat down on a bench and sobbed unabashedly in public.
That’s what racism was to me….an archaic ideal from our past, found in museums and history books and had been mostly eradicated from normal society. That day, in sixth grade, when ‘friends’ told me I couldn’t like the boy I liked because he was black…that woke me up a bit. But the years following…moving to Saint Louis, going to the schools I went to, the rise of the internet and seeing what kinds of ignorant evils there were in the world…was heart breaking. My empathy is something that is deeply engrained in me and with it, I have grown into a very self-aware woman. I am ALSO a very white woman. Honestly, I am a Neo-Nazi’s wet dream, ethnically, as I have zero diversity in these veins. From my Viking lineage to my tobacco farming family, it took me years to come to terms with the idea that somewhere along the lines, my ancestors were probably someone’s oppressors. I, somehow, had to learn to be proud of my heritage while forgiving the dark sides that come with it. So, when people attack my ‘wokeness’ it was/is infuriating.
Fast forward to now. I get it. No really, I get it. I never posted that rant because as much as I hate when people assume I know nothing (Jon Snow), I also know how redundant my rant was to the people who were hurting. I recognized that although I vehemently disagree with the destruction and anarchy that was happening, it wasn’t my annoyance that was going to help. Jesus did this thing…he made it so easy for us to learn to care for our brothers that are hurting. That’s what I saw…people hurting and my shouting back “You don’t know me!” was pointless because, it wasn’t about ME.
But THIS…this IS about me. This is about YOU! This is about ALL of us! Hate is a disease…a disease that festers and boils and lingers deep in your brain and heart until one day it bursts out and you have lost control over your free-thinking. As humans, we know this. As Christians, we know that hate is not God’s plan. Jesus never said…love your enemy…except the ones you think are less than you. That’s Satan. Seriously…it’s Satan poisoning your heart with the selfishness of thinking that you are more deserving than another. So why would you ever defend anyone spewing that kind of hate?
So, here’s what we don’t get to do:
- You don’t get to pretend there are ‘good people’ in the crowd. The “Unite the Right” movement was disguised as a political agenda but is used as an excuse to march down the street and spew hate. You don’t wave nazi flags to promote American culture. You don’t stalk down a street with guns and torches to promote equal rights and you DON’T yell out things like “You will not replace us” and “Heil Hitler”(or whatever elder you’re following) to show unity and patriotism. You do it because you are racist and you are trying to instill fear and intimidation into non-whites. Now, I’m sure there are some Derek Vineyards there who are misled and were seeking a sense of belonging and stubbled across the brotherhood but their actions are still reprehensible and there is no excuse.
- “This wouldn’t have happened if BLM weren’t trying to erase history”
“Yeah, but the Governor did this…”
“ANTIFA is just as bad…”
“Democrats are to blame for…”
We don’t get to justify one group’s actions by comparing it to another. There is never a time where positively promoting Nazism is acceptable. I don’t care what garbage anyone is throwing at you, you don’t suddenly deserve to be racist! When you say things like that and try to justify these actions by what someone else did first…you are no better than a kindergartener saying “Yeah but she did it first!” It’s not about that other person…it’s about the one you’re defending who, take away all those “yeah but’s” and you’ve still got a racist standing there!
I once was at a late-night coffee house when a girl we knew got mugged down the street. We called the police and then fawned over her while we bought her a coffee and cleaned her wounds. She was an adorable little sweetheart and we all mused at how something so terrible could happen to her. Then the cops came to take her statements and the N words started flying left and right and the mood immediately shifted. One by one we left her side and I’ve never seen her since. Did she deserve to get mugged? Of course not! Did we still sympathize with her and hope they catch the bad guys? Of course! But when someone spews hate, even out of fear or frustration, they still need to be held accountable!
So, moral of the story? Stop defending these horrible people! Stop excusing hateful behavior! Take a step back and look at it from an impartial view point. Stop comparing sins and hold your human brothers accountable. Instead…Pray! For each other, four our country, for our president and especially for those that are filled with hate and anger.