We are horrified, dismayed, outraged and saddened by the events in Charlottesville last weekend. We condemn the white supremacists and white nationalists for spewing their racist extremism and deliberately inciting violence in Charlottesville. We mourn Heather Heyer, and the thousands of others throughout the history of this country who have lost their lives because of hatred, racism and white supremacy. We denounce the President for refusing to repudiate the white supremacists and white nationalists responsible for organizing Unite the Right and the violence that ensued. And we honor the leadership and courage of black and queer activists in Virginia, North Carolina and other parts of the South and the country who are putting their bodies on the line against hate and against white supremacy and stand in solidarity with those facing criminal charges for taking a stand.
What happened in Charlottesville is not about the removal of a statute. It is not just about a fringe and disdainful group of racists carrying torches and sticks and shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans to try to intimidate those who believe in justice and the inherent dignity of every human being. Charlottesville---and the President’s disgraceful response--- are the latest manifestations of how racism and white supremacy are intricately ingrained into the history of this nation and how they are finely woven into the fabric of its institutions. They are also a part of the white nationalist movement’s protracted organizing strategy to take back every facet and institution that, in their view, have been lost to the “Other”--everyone who is not white, heterosexual, Christian and male.
In critical moments like these, as people of color, immigrants, refugees and allies and as people who believe in the human rights and dignity of all, we must defend and protect our communities, the most direct targets of violent extremism as well as laws and policies perpetrated by white supremacists and white nationalists. We are called to denounce both the specific acts of hate and extremism and the systemic, deeply rooted white supremacy and white nationalism that permeates and poisons our nation. And we must have frank conversations within and between our communities about racism, white supremacy, anti-blackness, and white nationalism and how they intersect with xenophobia, Islamophobia, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, anti-Semitism, and other systems to divide and oppress us. We must take a look at how we---intentionally or not--- participate, perpetuate and benefit from these systems. And we must commit to fighting white supremacy and all these systems of oppression in all their manifestations, both inside and outside our communities.
At SEIRN, we started these conversations at our last two annual conferences, with full awareness that we are only just beginning this crucial work. This year we will again offer a critical space to continue the conversations at our annual conference on November 3-5 in Moscow, Tennessee. We hope you will join us.