An American Expat’s Thoughts on Charlottesville

As much as it pains me to say it, those white supremacists had the right to peacefully protest, as much as any BLM or women’s march. It’s their first amendment right to speak clearly and explain what they want to the public, even if it’s hate speech.

From what I understand, the Unite the Right rally this past week was to protest the removal of Confederate ‘heroes’ statues from public spaces and possibly rename those spaces to be more inclusive of America’s current landscape. (Case in point, Emancipation Park.) However, this summary of their reasons do not reflect the images of white men and women holding torches and chanting “You will not replace us” and “Jew will not replace us”. This protest was not fear about erasing a dark part of history, but rather fear of that history truly coming to an end.

What these far right groups were really protesting was the fact that in 2030, the white demographic will be a minority. That currently, America’s minority groups are gaining freedom after freedom, and that we are approaching a point that for the first time in history, the word of women, black people, Asian people, or whatever minority you are apart of have as much say in how America should be run as any one white man. Their voice is effectively “being replaced” and not “added to”.

I try to remember, that for all that my blue passport says, for all the love I have for America, it’s not my own. And I rarely want to put my finger on why I don’t think of it as a homeland in the same way I think of Ghana as a homeland, despite the fact that I know more English than Akan, I value individuality more than collectivism, and think in ways more suited for an American academic institution than a Ghanaian one. But then I look and see that few like me have ever stayed apart of America long. We always preface our Americaness with “Ghanaian-“, “Nigerian-“, “African”, “Asian”, “Muslim”, “Latino-” as if we need to explain away why we look different than the 1950’s image of a wonderful life to the point that the phrase “White American” or “Christian American” are mainly used in census counts and analytics. What hurts is that in them I see an America I am not part of not because of my values, or conduct, but because of my skin color and race. The America these people want to build, this “Make America Great Again” crowd is ‘pure’ and sanctified through the blood of people of color.

In this past few days, I am thankful that so many white allies have come out confused at even the notion that anyone would want a fully white America, or that people are intimidated by the idea that America is the most diverse country ever to exist. I am even thankful that President Trump seems to dislike racism and act innocently confused like millions of white people. But I want more than just confusion from the American people. I want action.

I want us to listen to people we disagree with. I want us to understand the alt-right, the alt-left or whatever euphemism that is being used to describe the fringe groups that ultimately are distorted views of the general populous. Do most people believe the alt-right’s claims of racial superiority? No. But many believe that diversity has been America’s downfall. Do most people want to shut down contrasting opinions by protesting their protest? No, but mainly will dox and attack peoples’ whose viewpoints vary slightly from their own.

Every day, I try and put my own idealism and hope in a closet, and lock it shut. Then I search the web for any number of ridulous things: ‘star-gender’, ‘master-race’, ‘why are <blank> hated?’, and anything else I could imagine that make no sense to me. And while I still don’t understand, I want to learn more.

 

 

 

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