As an African/Native America I was reminded of the words of Maya Angelou, “Still I rise” after watching the horrors of domestic terrorism unfold this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. However, because of the unfortunate events that occurred, I am heartened. Heartened because the warnings of the persistence of racism and bigotry being alive and well in America have finally been acknowledged by many who have chosen to turn a blind eye to its existence in the past.
We can no longer hide behind the insistence that we are a raceless society because we elected our first black president, Barack Obama. We can no longer ignore the existence of hatred of those who are different than ourselves. No longer can we say that our children live in an America where sexual identity, race, religion, and ethnicity do not define our position in society. Because we, as a nation, watched helplessly as factions of the alt-right spread their vile message of divisiveness to anyone willing to listen.
The people of this country expect minorities to speak out against the “ugly Americans” who espouse superiority, hatred, and separatism. But we, as minorities, did not expect to see so many white Americans stand with us in saying this hatred and divisiveness has to stop. And to all of you who gave voice to our pain, I say thank you. Thank you, because over the weekend you saw the world through the same colored glasses as we do.
For the first time in my life, I feel a part of something that is bigger than myself. For the first time in my life I feel validated by the society in which we must all live as one. I have often said that we must stand together or divided we will fall. And for the first time in my life, I feel as though I am really a part of the United States of America.
My heart goes out to those who felt the brunt of this weekend’s tragic events. And I offer my sincerest condolences to the family of the young woman who lost her life in protest against the few who espouse white supremacy. In my view, she is a martyr for a noble cause. Heather Heyer’s name will be written in tha annals of history among the many who lost their lives in the name of equality, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Thank you America for restoring my faith in a country that has been divided by hurtful political rhetoric. As unfortunate as the weekend’s tragedy was, for once I can paraphrase Maya Angelou and say, ” Still we rise. ” And, I hope this will be a defining moment for this great nation of ours.