Like many, I’ve been watching what has been happening in Charlottesville, Virginia and it has turned my insides into a cocktail shaker of revulsion, rage, and profound despair.
What is missing from this mix, however, is shock.
What is going on in Charlottesville this weekend should not be a shock to anyone, yet my Twitter feed is full of (mostly) white people who are absolutely shocked by what is happening. There are a lot of declarations that the bigotry and racial hatred we’re seeing is “not who we are” or “not what America is about” and #ThisIsNotUs.
If you are one of those people condemning the Nazis and white nationalists using this kind of language, please tell me: Have you studied American history at all? Not the Rah-Rah-America crap we were fed in school, but REAL American history. The history where White America committed genocide. The history where White America enslaved blacks and forced many other races into hard labor to build our infrastructure. The history where non-whites were not allowed to vote. The not-that-distant history where white people kept non-white people segregated, forced them into separate neighborhoods, separate stores, separate schools, separate busses, SEPARATE GODDAMN DRINKING FOUNTAINS.
Because it seems to me that if you learned actual American history, the hard, ugly truth, you’d understand that this country was built on racial bigotry. We’ve been at this for 250 years.
Did you really believe that having a black POTUS was going to make that all go away? That the neo-Nazis and white nationalists would suddenly see the error of their ways and we’d be One Nation, Indivisible, With Liberty And Justice For All?
That there is some serious Magical Thinking.
White America: what we saw in Charlottesville, and in Portland and Minnesota and across the country over the last several months, THIS IS US. It should not be us, we wish it wasn’t us, but we have a hell of a long way to go before we can claim that these people do not represent America.
So, enough living in denial: it’s well past time that we own this. It’s time that we clean this up. It’s time that we come for our bigoted relatives, friends, and co-workers. Call their racist shit out. Have those uncomfortable discussions.
But if all you’ve got is re-posting touching photos with superimposed Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi quotes on your Facebook page all day, you’re bullshit unless you’re willing to do the real work to make Actual America live up to Fantasy America.