Charlottesville: An Apology from the Depths of my Guts

It was a difficult weekend in America. Three people are dead after white supremacist terrorists publicly marched through Charlottesville, VA and were met by counter-protesters in force. A white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of people and critically injured nearly a dozen and killed one. There was a helicopter accident that killed two people as they flew over the crowds below.

There’s been a firestorm of outrage and shock about what happened. Talking heads abound. There are calls for everything from violence to peaceful protest. There are diatribes being written about how we should react. And probably that’s good. This dialogue is one that we desperately need to have in America. The hatred and fear and malice and spite that brought America into the world as the deformed and somehow self-righteous offspring of racism, genocide, and warmongering is bubbling to the surface yet again. And maybe this time we’ll have a conversation about it that goes deeper than it has before. Maybe white Americans can start to look at the guilt we all bear but never acknowledge and start to process the shame that we should feel for the ways in which we perpetuate the violence our ancestors set in motion.

I hope that happens. I admit my place as a descendant of bigoted, racist “patriots” who escaped persecution in their home countries only to come here and visit it upon millions of people with darker skins. Here I am. Here are so many of us, who have never been made to feel deeply afraid for ourselves, our loved ones, our existence, based on the color of our skin or the religious or national backgrounds of our families. I want us to be able to listen to those who have experienced fear, oppression, trauma only because of how they were born, and to whom. I want the millions of us to reflect on how we got here, and to consider very carefully why people who look like us could feel justified in openly advocating violence against people who don’t look like us. How our people—because make no mistake, these are our people—can feel okay chanting “We will not be replaced” without being aware that we are, all of us, replacements for the people we forced off the land and out of the cultural conversation when we murdered them, systematically destroyed their culture, language, and history, and then oppressed them, and continue to oppress them still today.

But mostly, I am sad. I am just so deeply, deeply saddened that this is where human beings are. That this is what we’re doing.

We’re living in a time when connectivity is more possible than ever. Thanks to the Internet, we can communicate with each other more easily and more clearly than ever before. We are able to see each other across oceans now, in real time—and shouldn’t that mean that we can start to recognize one another’s humanity more easily? Shouldn’t that mean that we can start to listen to others? To educate ourselves? To allow ourselves to be educated?

It confuses me and saddens me that there are people out there who are so terrified of losing an iota of the death grip they have on the steering wheel of our nation that they will lash out like this. That they are so unwilling to see the people they malign as people. That we’re still so infantile as a species that we’re taking our frustrations and fears out on each other rather than learning how to love and heal. That people are so goddamn tiny and so fucking willfully ignorant and so mean.

I want to say here, in public, that I’m sorry about all of this. To all the readers of this blog who are part of a marginalized group—to POC, to religious minorities, to LGBTQIA+ folks, to anyone who has felt fear from assholes like the ones who marched through Charlottesville—I’m so sorry that people like me have made this country such a hostile place for you to exist. I’m so sorry that we so often refuse to look into ourselves, our history, and our communities to see the rot that’s eating away at us all from within. I’m so sorry that this continues. That people like me have voted into power a man who doesn’t see your dignity as human beings. That the world is this way. I want you to know that I will, in every place and way that I can, stand up to this terrorism being perpetrated against you. That I value you. That if there’s anything I can do to make this clearer, I want you to tell me how.

This can be an opportunity for change. I want to help this country move forward by opening dialogue, looking squarely at the past, and refusing to look away. I want to hear you. I want to be here for this. I hope many more people who look like me do, too.

 

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