In the last 72 hours, we have likely heard the terms white nationalist, white supremacists, neo-nazis, and alt-right more than at any point in history.
However, it was the nomination of Donald Trump to lead the Republican Party and his eventual election to the presidency in November that caused many (including myself) to take a second look at the country that boasts the liberty of its people, equitable policies, and fairness for all.
For me, and I think for many millennial African Americans, the world opened up and showed its ugly face on election night. In the weeks after, the world that we thought we knew, began to shift. Neighborhoods that we used to feel safe in no longer felt safe. Stores that we used to frequent now felt cold. And colleagues no longer felt the need to smile when you walk by.
That all came to a head last night when David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, thanked the President for defending the actions of self-identified white nationalists that took part in protests in Charlottesville over the weekend and that viciously took the life of Heather Heyer.
Many people right now are in a state of shock because some folks are just getting hip to the outward expressions of what people of color have been feeling for months. The news cycle and conversations across racial lines are engulfed in the narrative that has been spewed by the president and amplified by the media for ratings.
This is a shocking time. But shock, empathy, and outrage do not get Americans and people of color equal treatment and equal rights.
This weekend's happenings are directly related to the structural racism that has been plaguing our country for decades. The terrorist events of Charlottesville are the repugnant result of our country’s leaders turning a blind eye to practices that further repress those that are not like them.
Money in politics and the corruption not only in Washington, but in every statewide and local election, that does not give equal opportunity to everyday Americans to run for office and represent their communities is a part of the problem
Every state legislature that allows politicians to choose their constituents instead of their constituents choosing them is a part of the problem.
Every state that is engaging in voter purges, and disenfranchising thousands of Americans, especially the poor and people of color, by taking them off voter rolls, requiring voter ID, and by taking away their right to vote because past mistakes, is part of the the problem.
When we hear of yet another pollution incident or lack of clean water, it is often in communities of color.
People of color work just as hard as the rest of America, but continue to get paid less.
The United States also continues to deal with a criminal justice crisis with mass incarceration and an immigration system that often focuses on tearing families apart than fostering citizens.
We must act now. Transfer the feelings of shock and outrage and encourage your family members, friends, and co-workers to not only have the hard conversations about the values of this country, but to take part and join an organization that fights the issues of structural racism and empowers the majority to take us out of dark place that we have found ourselves as a nation.
Office: Common Cause National