Hate has no place in our communityIvan Canada / August 18, 2017
My colleagues and I here at NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad are deeply saddened and troubled by the events that took place over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. We wholeheartedly condemn the racist, bigoted ideology that fueled hate speech and violence, leaving one young woman dead and dozens injured. Our thoughts are with the people of Charlottesville. We wish them peace and healing in this challenging time.
Yet what happened in Charlottesville is not an isolated incident. It is a symptom of a larger problem. Across our nation – and yes, here in our state of North Carolina and in our own Triad community – hate speech and hate crimes are on the rise. White nationalist groups are openly espousing racist, anti-Semitic, often misogynistic rhetoric. They are moving from the shadows and into the public sphere. And they are recruiting followers.
Long before this weekend, the people who rallied in Charlottesville were taught that it was acceptable for them to chant offensive slogans and display hateful symbols. They were socialized to believe that they could do so publicly, without fear of reprisal or consequence. Their hate was fostered by the actions – or inactions – of their friends, family members, and the people they interact with every day. People like you and me. When it comes to condoning and encouraging hateful beliefs and behaviors, silence can be just as powerful as any words of approval.
That’s why we must not be silent.
We must proclaim loudly that the hate we saw in Charlottesville is unacceptable and it has no place in our community, or anywhere. We must stand up and speak out when anyone is denigrated or threatened because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other aspect of diversity.
I want to reaffirm NCCJ’s opposition to all forms of bias, bigotry, and racism and our commitment to promoting respectful dialogue and building bridges of understanding. As we have been for 80 years, we are here for you. We are here as a resource to bring people together and promote justice, inclusion, and love. Together, we will keep building a community that is safe, just, inclusive, and respectful of all.
Ivan Canada is the Executive Director of the National Conference for Community and Justice of the Piedmont Triad.