Edit desk: Stand up and do something

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Wascar Ramirez

There’s a meme floating around that reads, “I don’t know whether to prepare for World War III or the second Civil War.”

While getting into a war with North Korea is definitely worrisome, I’m more focused on what the U.S. will look like in the upcoming months in terms of race.

A few weeks ago, I found myself nervously laughing and shaking my head after seeing multiple articles about the KKK and white nationalist marches in Charlottesville, Virginia, and other cities across the country.

I remember when I first saw the video of white nationalist James Fields plowing into a crowd of anti-racism protesters. My jaw dropped — I had no idea how to react to what I was seeing.

The anger came first, then sadness and fear slowly poured in. Who drives full speed into a crowd of people who disagree with you?

The fact that the media was presenting Fields as the alleged driver rather than as a terrorist upset me the most. By definition, a terrorist is someone who uses unlawful violence against others for political gain. Fields fits that definition, killing one and injuring over 30 others.

It’s ridiculous to me that in 2017 there’s still so much hatred and ignorance. It’s ridiculous that people have to live their daily lives with a fear of being attacked, either physically or verbally, simply for one or more of their identities.

I recall thinking of a Muslim man with a large beard and a turban as the face of terrorism when I was a child, especially after 9/11. Now that I’m older and can analyze information on my own, it’s clear that the face of terrorism in the United States is that of a white man.

In May, Jeremey Christian fatally stabbed two men and injured another in Portland, Oregon, when the men spoke out against anti-Muslim slurs that Christian was yelling at two women on the train.

In 2015, Dylann Roof shot and killed nine black church attendants in Charleston, South Carolina.

In 2012, James Holmes shot up a theater in Aurora, Colorado.

Let’s not forget all the black lives lost to racist police officers or the lives of transgender people lost to partners or strangers.

According to HuffPost, the number of right-wing extremist attacks are double that of attacks made by Islamic extremists. Roughly a third of right-wing attacks result in deaths, while only 13 percent of those made by Islamic extremists result in death.

I think this is something important that white people need to understand. “Outsiders” aren’t the ones who are dangerous — it’s their own neighbors.

White allies are the key to overcoming white supremacy. For those who think there isn’t space for you in movements such as Black Lives Matter, there is. Action simply needs to be taken in a way that is supportive without speaking over black voices. Be comfortable listening and following direction from black leaders on what needs to be done.

It’s important to consider work from writers of color, such as Roxanne Gay and Audre Lorde, as an integral learning opportunity. It’s not the role of black people, or any other oppressed group for that matter, to educate others on how they are being oppressed. Reading is a great way to begin learning.

Music also serves as an instrument in learning about others’ struggles, such as Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright.” Lyrics like “I’m at the preacher’s door. My knees gettin’ weak and my gun might blow but we gon’ be alright” have become an anthem of hope and power.

I’m not saying that people are not willing to have conversations. I believe discussion is integral among all groups to be involved in a more just society, regardless of the issue being discussed.

That being said, “How are you oppressed?” or “What’s wrong with _____?” aren’t the questions to ask. Those answers are easily found online or in books.

Regardless of any identity we may hold, we are all part of the same community. We all need to do our part to make it safe and accepting for everyone.

I have hope that one day everyone can live in harmony. Whether that will be in my lifetime or in the generations that follow, I can’t say.

Wascar Ramirez, ’19, is an associate lifestyle editor for The Brown and White. He can be reached at war219@lehigh.edu.

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2 Comments

  1. Robert Davenport on

    “It’s ridiculous to me that in 2017 there’s still so much hatred and ignorance. It’s ridiculous that people have to live their daily lives with a fear of being attacked, either physically or verbally, simply for one or more of their identities.

    “Regardless of any identity we may hold, we are all part of the same community. We all need to do our part to make it safe and accepting for everyone.”

    Amen to those sentiments.

    Don’t be upset by the use of the word alleged; the current sense of the word is he’s guilty but he hasn’t had his day in court yet to confirm lt so don’t sue me. Terrorism does not have a face, it is a mindset. I would call street gangs terrorists.

    Each of us deserves respect no matter the differences.

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