I grew up in the South. I’ve lived here my entire life, and more than likely will remain here until the day I die. I knew racism existed, but it seemed in the abstract.
Charlottesville brought that lie to a screeching halt.
Seeing racists and Nazis marching openly, proudly in our streets in support of a superior race was horrifying. They waved Confederate and Nazi flags, chanted “Blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us,” and didn’t care who saw them. They didn’t feel the need to hide behind masks in the dead of night anymore. Their violence resulted in one death and the injury of many more when a car rammed into a large group of protestors.
I live more than 900 miles from Charlottesville, Virginia, but I felt a personal responsibility in the aftermath. Indirectly, I had helped create the atmosphere and culture where this was possible and hadn’t done enough to stamp it out.
It is easy to see your faults and missteps in moments like that, and to separate yourself from overtly racist actions like we saw in Charlottesville. The difficult times are those less obvious moments, whether it’s comments we hear, thoughts we have, actions we take or things we ignore.
It isn’t hard to feel outraged, angry and call for change when Nazis walk openly down the street or when people like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor are killed. Those moments come with sudden, visceral responses that typically fade away just as quickly as they came.
For things to truly change, it has to be felt in those daily, unnoticed, easy-to-be-ignored moments of racism and bias.
To be in a position to respond in those moments, we have to listen to the voices and stories of those unlike us. Only then can we start to understand their daily experiences and begin to change.
Dixie Reckoning will begin to tell those stories. We need to listen. We need to change. We need a reckoning.