Like many people this weekend, I watched videos and articles fill my newsfeed about white supremacists marching through Charlottesville, Virginia. And as people began to comment, I noticed a distinct difference between the comments people made.
While some people reacted with shock, people of color were wholly unsurprised.
Ask any person of color and we will tell you we saw this coming from a mile away. Ask any person of color and we will tell you about the times we were followed around a store because we “looked suspicious” or how we saw our fathers and uncles and brothers stopped and frisked. We’ll tell you about being fetishized for our race, told our natural hair looked unprofessional and how professors stumbled over our ethnic names but had no problem pronouncing Tchaikovsky or Lisiewicz.
And if you had been listening and reading and watching you would realize we have told you. We have written, and posted and shared and explained time after time after time and you didn’t listen. But suddenly when a mob of white men (who took advantage of the end of summer tiki torch sale) march through the University of Virginia campus, now you are shocked about how much of a problem racism is in our country. Why did it take Nazi salutes, calls of “blood and soil” and a man mowing down counter protestors in his car for you to finally accept what people of color have been saying for decades?
Why wasn’t Philando Castile enough?
Why wasn’t Tommy Le enough?
Why wasn’t one little black girl telling you that her classmate called her a n****r enough?
You doubted our experiences. You questioned our opinions. You called us thugs and ungrateful and snowflakes. The white supremacist march in Charlottesville is living, citronella reeking proof of what we have been saying for too long —racism is a problem in America.
These men aren’t just full time protestors; they are teachers and lawyers and neighbors and doctors. They own stores and businesses; they are sales associates and students. They are part of our society and their bigoted ideology permeates into their actions. They’re not just racist when they’re protesting, they’re racist when they teach us, when we’re their customers and when we sit next to them in class.
These are the people we have told you about, but you didn’t want to hear it.
These are the people whose rhetoric and opinions have become so normalized.
Trump didn’t create America’s race problem, he just made people who hold these opinions feel more comfortable in voicing them. These men went from typing in chat rooms to posting to Facebook. They have gone from meeting in private to marching in public.
So I am not shocked, I’m angry.
I am angry because my neighbors and teachers and friends voted a man into office who won’t call white supremacists marching through a college town carrying assault rifles terrorism.
I am angry because you post about being tired of all the negativity, when this negativity is my reality.
I am angry because my opinions and experiences weren’t enough for you to understand that racism is a problem. That it took hundreds of white supremacists marching with assault rifles to convince you that racism is still a problem in America .