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As A 21-Year-Old Black Woman From Virginia, I Can Tell You That The Racism You Saw In Charlottesville Isn't New — It's Always

Charlottesville racism

Charlottesville, Virginia.

August 12, 2017.

1:45 P.M. 

It’s a time and place I will not forget.

The “Unite The Right” rally became violent in a way that was unnecessary and evil.

Cars plowed through crowds of people, taking one life and injuring many others. Guns pointed, fists flying; it was chaos in a way that can only be understood through photos.


RELATED: A Charlottesville Man Beaten By White Supremacists Shares His Horrific Story & Video Of The Attack


Although Charlottesville, VA is now a place ingrained in everyone’s minds, it was a name I knew far before this attack.

Growing up in Northern Virginia is a different atmosphere than the rest of our southern state. Suburbia at its finest — NoVa, as we call it — was a safe haven of diverse, upper-middle class neighbors.

Charlottesville, though 3 hours south, isn’t unfamiliar.

A majority of my graduating class were pining for acceptance into the University of Virginia, the college that gives Charlottesville so much life.

A lively town with bright students and a charm that can only be found in a southern university; I’d gone to concerts, visited friends, and I could have never known that it would become a place that holds so much weight in our counrty.

But this isn’t really about Charlottesville, Virginia.

Yes, the “Unite The Right” white supremacist rally became violent in a way that was unnecessary and evil in ways that I will never truly understand.

But Charlottesville could have been your hometown.

It could have been your college town.

It’s not about where, or when, but why.

Why now?

I’m sure everyone has a different reason why in their head; the president, the political climate, chance.

But to me, a 21-year-old black American, now isn’t a surprise.

If I ask my mother if she is shocked, she won’t be, because she’s spent her life getting side-glances for being with a white man, for having mixed-raced children.

To her, this isn’t now, it’s always.

Those people have always been there.

Maybe their actions were charged by a disrespectful president or an inexcusable societal privilege, but they have always been there.

This is history. An ugly history.

So what now?


RELATED: I Wanted To Talk About The Racism In Charlottesville, But I'm Tired Of Being Ignored By White People


Do we sit like ducks and hope for a better future? Do we protest and march? Do we tweet and repost as many supportive things as we can?

I wish I knew the perfect way to show justice for everyone in Charlottesville, for every person of color who thinks “that could have been me”.

The moment I heard about what happened in my home state, I felt hopeless.

It is easy to say, “Well, I guess this is how it is now,” and move on with your life and hope your blinders keep you from feeling too much.

I wish it was still as easy as that.

After a few days of reading articles and media through reluctant eyes and a painful grimace, I realized that something has to change.

If I, a woman of color who has always been vocal about racial injustice, am choosing now to be the moment I slump against the wall and give up, then what am I showing the white supremacists who thought they could get away with this?

It does not matter where you are from, what color your skin is, you have to say something.

We are past the point of ignorance.

We have the world at our fingertips through social media, and that doesn’t mean that sharing an article or two will suffice.

Call your friends out on their ignorance, educate them and don’t sit by while they choose to ignore other people’s struggles.

Have diverse conversations. A conversation on race that includes no people of color is an unproductive conversation.

Donate. March. Speak out. You will be amazed how quickly the world starts to shape itself when everyone stands up against hatefulness.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next. It could get better, or it could get worse. But there is power if persistence. There is power in joy despite heartache. There is power is unity.

It starts with you.

It starts with me.

It starts with us.


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