The premeditated events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia this past Saturday are heartbreaking, cruel, and racist. It is time for all of us to have vivid clarity about what people of color have known and been saying all along: the United States has a racism problem.
Our ignorance and silence must end now. We don’t need a philosophy of bigotry and a method of violence like the white supremacist, alt-right, Nazi sympathizers in Charlottesville to participate in racism. The violent, terrorist acts that took place this past weekend were heinous and must be called out and rejected. However, silence is the softer voice of racism that allows these acts to continue, and it must also be addressed.
The silence is insidious. It speaks racism softly, deceptively, and effectively. What are those of us across the United States, committed to peace with justice, doing about the perpetuation of violence all around us? What are we saying to our elected officials through letters, visits, and phone calls? Do we have the clarity and courage of our nonviolent convictions to speak up and to show up, locally and nationally, in solidarity with communities victimized by hatred? Saying that the “violence must stop” is a coward’s way of responding when it is not backed by strong, nonviolent action and a demand for accountability.
The democratic values on which our country is founded as well as the scriptural values we hold dear means there is no place for our silence in a society that has allowed violence to become the “new normal.”