By Max Disposti | North County Update
The white supremacist violence and terrorist attack that recently erupted in Charlottesville is the latest in a rising tide of racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitism, and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment.
While manifestations of racism and racist violence are not new to this country, this emerging and visible display of hate has reached a new peak since the last presidential election. In fact, everywhere, old and new racists are demagogically emerging within the space of freedom of speech provided by the Constitution. They are claiming a space for “opinion” and found that this new administration can easily harbor their sentiment.
There are many ways to denounce the domestic terrorist attack we witnessed, but one of them IS NOT to generally denounce violence.
Generic statements of anti-violence sentiments are not the answer that will shine a light over the darkness of racism, or bring respect to those that have been killed by racism and injustice. The intent of the white supremacists is to bring attention to themselves and find legitimacy. As if professing the killing of Jews, LGBT and black folks in our country is a conversation that we can have or negotiate about.
Meanwhile, few within the GOP have fought President Trump’s refusal to condemn the white supremacist groups that marched with tiki torches and called for racial lynchings; an image we wish had stayed only in the dark pages of our history.
What has changed? Many things, but mostly in the past the KKK were wearing robes, today they are marching right out in the open, unashamedly identifiable and doing press conferences and interviews like any other legitimate political party.
We have allowed this to happen.
While California is not West Virginia, racism and racists are very well alive and they often thrive when the majority tends to downplay the damage of these interactions and acts of violence. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, California is home to numerous hate groups and major rallies are already organized by white supremacists in different areas.
What can we do? We have so much to do and we can do so much to counter these demonstrations of hate.
As we work to ensure that all LGBTQI people have safe, affirming and loving spaces to define themselves, we must also work to ensure that we are actively combating racism. Whether it’s the ugly hate-filled violence we saw in Charlottesville or the micro aggression and daily indignities people of color face, we have a responsibility to do better. We have a responsibility to make sure our leadership positions are fully representative of our diversities.
Let’s not only condemn this evident manifestation of racist violence, but also take the time to investigate how racism shows up in our own every day lives, our work, and in our community.
As the executive director of a LGBTQ center, I recommit to ensuring that youth, everyone of all races and ethnicities, have a space at The North County Center to be their full authentic selves. Furthermore, I commit to finding ways to accommodate our queer youth of color in a time when their dignity and identities are being attacked even within our LGBT communities.
I hope you can all join me to make sure that together, we continue to be vigil of the racial divide, aware of the privilege that some of us experience, and commit to initiate conversations whenever possible within and outside our LGBT spaces.
With love and appreciation.
—Max Disposti is a human rights activist, a community organizer and the founder and executive director of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.