Stop Mourning Heather Heyer
I’m sure this is being said elsewhere on the Internet and in far more articulate fashion than will follow here. But it’s probably being said by brown people, which means that white people are automatically not listening. Or lumping it in with existing statistics. Or, worse, sending their white tears and endless “thoughts and prayers”. I hope because I am mostly white and, therefore, live on mostly the same plane of existence and with the same level of comfortable isolation as the rest of you white folks, maybe you’ll be more willing to listen.
While I have been encouraged at the level of resistance and outrage expressed across the nation – and, indeed, around the globe – at the recent happenings in Charlottesville, the main rallying point, the death of Heather Heyer, is causing me quite a lot of frustration. Not because she did anything wrong; not because she was doing anything other than what a person of privilege should be doing – using her position to raise others up – not because what happened to her was anything other than a tragedy. But because it took the death of a white woman to finally rile people up and rouse them to action.
Did the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Walter Scott, and Laquan McDonald mean nothing to you? Did the POTUS’s appointment of a known white supremacist not outrage you? Did the decades and decades of complaints of racism, mistreatment, and being denied opportunity from people of colour even register inside your cloud? Did the murders of trans women of colour slide right off your back? Does the name Matthew Shepard mean anything to you? How do you feel about the torching of mosques and the defacing of synagogues? Does. Any. One. Piece. Of. This. Puzzle. Mean. A. Thing. To. You?
Why did it take the death of a white woman to galvanise you into action? Why is she suddenly a hero when people have been dying for the cause of equality all over the country? Is it that you finally realise you’re not safe inside your bubble? If they’ll kill a pretty white lady, they’ll kill anyone, you say?
Stop mourning her. If you had acted when you should have she would not be dead. Dry up your white tears and act. Start listening to people of colour, to trans people, to disabled people, to Muslims, to women who talk about sexism – basically to anyone Nazis hate. Listen to them, believe them, empathise with them. And get rid of the politicians who are not vehemently and consistently opposed to exclusionary policies.
Anyone who supported the current POTUS, regardless of any conciliatory statements they’ve made this past week, is on the list for removal. That man showed the world who he was long before he decided to run for office. There is no excuse – none – for supporting that bigot.
Educate yourself, educate your friends, neighbours, colleagues, and family about which politicians endorsed 45. Vote them out. Demonstrate in the streets. Call your representatives and demand that he be impeached, removed from office, and prosecuted.
And through all that, take a deep look at your beliefs about race. Know that no matter how uncomfortable, even painful, it may be to admit it, you are probably racist. Not because you wielded a torch or ran over protesters, but because you didn’t stop it from happening.