People died in Charlottesville this past weekend. Families are planning funerals, not summer barbeques. Many more are holding vigils for those hospitalized in critical condition.
Let’s call it what it is.
White supremacy. Domestic terrorism. Pre-meditated hate.
It’s shameful. Excruciating. More or less shocking, depending on the frequency of oppressions any one of us endures.
What would have happened if an Ohio man hadn’t weaponized a car? Heather Heyer would be alive, and many more would not be hospitalized.
And I wonder if everything else in Charlottesville in the last 24 hours would have sparked outrage. Would a Twitter rainbow have coalesced as it did last night?
I want to believe it would have. And the evidence suggests the opposite.
Beyond the 20 year-old driver who murdered a woman standing up for America— older, cannier, no-hoods-needed-anymore white supremacists know how to dog whistle to the country without provoking the bipartisan (sans presidential) rebukes now pouring in. White supremacists know how to make complicity into Velcro. Their walk-the-line, silencing assaults hit their intended targets—blacks, Latinos, Jews and others—daily. They are insidious and corrosive. They are crystal clear.
So let’s also be crystal clear.
Oppression makes it impossible for people to access the ingredients of health and hope. Cells age faster. Immune systems go haywire. Constant stress distorts metabolism. People die years early from oppression. It doesn’t always take a weaponized car. Oppression is deadly.
We need to create the country that has been dreamed of, but never been reality. One where what is essential for health and hope is not miserly hoarded by some to hurt others, but instead where oppression is replaced by wellbeing and justice.
We have a long way to go. As a white middle-class woman, I have a long way to go. And none of us will get there if we respond episodically to the horrors of a murder and not constantly to the pervasive horrors of intimidation and racism.
Let’s get going. Now and every day.
Katya Fels Smyth and the FFI team