This past weekend the Unite the Right Rally happened in Charlottesville, VA. My hometown, where I still live. This happened in my backyard and I don’t know how to deal with it.
I’ve debated about writing anything because I don’t want to get into any political views because that’s not what this blog is about. But I feel like I need to say something.
I feel such anger, fear and sadness. Anger knowing that so many people have so much hate in their hearts that they would travel to my town with torches, guns and vile words. Fear of what will happen next. Fear that this rally has opened up a can of worms and will give more hateful people the courage to openly speak their hate. And sadness. Deep sadness for the people that had to die and for their families and friends that have to live without them. Sadness for all of the people that witnessed such a life changing, tragic event up close and in person. And sadness for the world.
Growing up, I was lucky enough to not directly experience racism. I feel like I was aware and others were aware of my (slightly) darker skin tone, but I never felt discriminated against. I thought extreme racism was a thing in the past, found mostly in history books. Events over the last few years have shown that racial tension is alive and well, but yesterday’s events were the closest it’s ever been to me.
I wanted to spend the weekend relaxing and taking time to paint, read, write and enjoy the sunshine. Instead I spent the weekend scrolling Facebook for updates wondering who braved the rally in counter protest and refreshing my Google search of Charlottesville to see the latest news updates. I couldn’t look away. I watched multiple videos of the rally and the car wreck over and over again. It’s like I needed to see it from every perspective to understand why this was happening. I typically hate keeping up with the news because it makes me so sad and angry to see horrible things happen in the world. But this was happening in my town. I couldn’t believe it. It was surreal. I kept watching videos to make it seem real.
I saw so much hate on the streets that I walk around on. I love walking on the Downtown Mall because you really see the variety of people that live here. But people came to protest against the removal of a statue with a deeper protest rooted in hate towards diversity. I can’t even imagine walking down the Downtown Mall right now. I keep wondering about the people protesting and counter protesting, what was going on in their minds. I had no interest in participating in this protest because I didn’t feel strong ties to fight against it with the original intent regarding the statue. I was hoping that they would come and leave without causing too much disturbance. But now I feel guilty like I should of done something. Instead I stayed home on my comfortable couch like a coward. I couldn’t even post or comment on anything on Facebook because I wasn’t ready to talk about it. I felt like there wasn’t anything I could say that would change what was happening or that was different from what anyone else said.
I am happy that my timeline was filled with people’s love of Charlottesville and what my town really stands for. I’m glad that I surround myself with people filled with love and not hate. I was happy to see the people of Charlottesville come together to stand against the hateful protesters and show them that their views were not welcome here.
The question I keep asking myself is, how do we move forward from this?. I hope that people keep showing more love towards one another. Learn to appreciate and welcome other people’s differences. Choose love and not hate.
Pray for my sweet home town.
2 Chronicles 7:14: if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.