Responding to Charlottesville

by Michelle Palmer


“The greatest indicator of whether we’d have marched or stayed home, spoken out or remained silent, been brave or safe in the last civil right movement is whether we’re marching, speaking up, and being brave in THIS civil rights movement. Who you are is not about what you believe or how you feel. Who you are is about what you do or do not do.” – Glennon Doyle

“Sickened.” “Disgusted.” “Devastated.”

Those are some of the words I saw flash across my timeline after last weekend. (If you are not one of the 30 million people who have already seen the VICE News video about Charlottesville, please do. I’m confident you will be sickened, disgusted, and devastated. WARNING: It’s graphic. It’s painful. It’s vulgar. But it’s important.)


As thankful as I was to see so many denounce white supremacy publicly, including several who often steer clear of controversial issues, I am left, the week after, hoping their words aren’t empty. Hoping that their disgust will lead them to action. I’ve seen it stated in a variety of ways over the last week: If you think you would have marched with Martin Luther King in the 60s, you should be marching now. For folks who are just waking up to the severe racial divides and inequality in America, and indeed the world, I wanted to provide a resource that answers, “What do I do now?” I freely admit that I have stolen these lists from various sources for your convenience, but each source is linked and I encourage you to read them in full, if at all possible!  

I. Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide (This resource from Southern Poverty Law Center is the best I’ve seen thus far. If you’re sickened or disgusted or devastated, please click through to the full guide and find a way to get plugged in.)

  1. Act. “Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance by the perpetrators, the public and — worse — the victims. Community members must take action; if we don’t, hate persists.”
  2. Join Forces. “Reach out to allies from churches, schools, clubs, and other civic groups. Create a diverse coalition. Include children, police, and the media. Gather ideas from everyone, and get everyone involved.”
  3. Support the Victims. “Hate crime victims are especially vulnerable.”
  4. Speak Up. “Hate must be exposed and denounced. Help news organizations achieve balance and depth.”
  5. Educate Yourself. “An informed campaign improves its effectiveness. Determine if a hate group is involved, and research its symbols and agenda. Understand the difference between a hate crime and a bias incident.”
  6. Create an Alternative. “Do not attend a hate rally. Find another outlet for anger and frustration and for people’s desire to do something. Hold a unity rally or parade to draw media attention away from hate.”
  7. Pressure Leaders. “Elected officials and other community leaders can be important allies.”
  8. Stay Engaged. “Promote acceptance and address bias before another hate crime can occur.”
  9. Teach Acceptance. “Bias is learned early, often at home. Schools can offer lessons of tolerance and acceptance.”
  10. Dig Deeper. “Look inside yourself for biases and stereotypes.”

II. “How to ‘Love Anyway’ After Charlottesville” – Courtney Christenson

  • recognize that racism is woven into the very fabric of our society
  • stand by our black and brown brothers and sisters and make sure that they know their well-being is more important to us than the feelings of their oppressors.
  • by pointing out the ways racism infiltrates our everyday language, culture, media, and government—rather than pretending that the extremists who showed up in Charlottesville are the only perpetrators.
  • advocate for the rights and fair treatment of people of color by law enforcement.
  • challenge white privilege when we see it in the relatively gentle response of law enforcement and government officials to white supremacist marching in Charlottesville, compared to their response to protests largely made up of people of color.
  • seek justice and reconciliation, instead of victory and domination.
  • use every nonviolent tactic we can think of to destroy hate and unmake violence, but we distinguish between destroying ideologies and destroying the people who hold them.
  • respect the humanity of the people in these groups by refusing to injure or kill or dehumanize them, even though they don’t show the same respect to others.
  • advocate for the healing and rehabilitation of white supremacists whenever possible. Because real peace is healing for everyone involved.
  • refuse to lose sight of the humanity of the oppressor… while remembering that our hearts belong to the oppressed.

III. “White Feelings: 0-60 for Charlottesville” – Erynn Brook (which I feel obliged to tell you has NSFW language, but I highly recommend anyway)

Amplify. Speak out. Follow the voices on the ground. Denounce white supremacy. Denounce white supremacy publicly, on all your social media accounts. Donate here (Solidarity Cville Anti-Racist Legal Fund). Donate here, Black Women Being will provide funds to individuals on the ground. Donate here, Nice White Ladies has an emergency fund that is directly available to community organizers. Get on Twitter and Facebook and ask your friends to donate as well. Donate to BLM Charlottesville, they are on the ground. If you feel like you need more education on anti-black racism, sign up for Safety Pin Box. Contact your local Black Lives Matter chapter and follow them. Just be present, do something, do anything. If you’ve done nothing because you’re worried about being the best, then you’re a bigger problem than someone who’s trying but messing up.

I know, I know: Many of these are pretty daunting. I get that. To quote my old pastor, Crispin, “Condemning racism is easy. Making space in one’s life for relationship with folks who are different from you is work, hard work, holy work.” Doing the hard, holy work of ending white supremacy and fighting for racial reconciliation requires time and energy and other resources. If you have the time and energy for this stuff, keep going. Keep working. It’s so worth it!  

If you’re not quite there yet, but still want to do something, there’s a (relatively) easy way to get involved that only requires one resource, CASH! Donating funds to the people on the ground is important, necessary work. (Erynn gave four great places to donate to up there ^.) Another organization to support, both financially and otherwise, is the Southern Poverty Law Center. I love the work this organization does! They are on the forefront of research on hate groups in America, and they use their research to fuel the fight against white supremacy.


The SPLC is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.


We monitor hate groups and other extremists throughout the United States and expose their activities to the public, the media and law enforcement.


We’re dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children.


We’re seeking justice for the most vulnerable people in society.


(Also, I am donating my birthday to these guys on Facebook, and I would LOVE for you join my campaign. Click here!!!)

But it’s not just about financial support. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and share their work with your family and friends.


I know this was a lot. If you’re feeling super overwhelmed right now, bookmark this post, come back to it, and in the meantime, do this:

“Tell your family you love them. Tell your friends you love them. Tell strangers you see them. Tell the marginalized you will stand alongside them. Tell children you see their potential. Whatever you do, don’t be silent.” – Matthew Huard


For More Information…


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