Last weekend, I was home in Wisconsin with my family in my very white, very conservative, hometown on vacation when I heard the news about Charlottesville. My boyfriend and I both got the push notifications on our phones and instantly started reading about the horrific events, looking for more information. Like most people, I was outraged, saddened and angry about what was happening. My heart broke for Heather Heyer, who died standing up for what was right, and her family. I was saddened, again, for my friends of color who have to again feel unsafe in their country, in their home. I was angry and shocked that Neo-Nazis and white supremacists were marching through a college campus, especially in a progressive town like Charlottesville, and that these (mostly young) people not only existed but were filled with so much hate.
The thing is, many of my black friends and people of color on social media weren’t shocked to see this because they experience oppression and racism every single day. And it’s not just in the heartland or in the South, but happening in big cities, in progressive towns, on both coasts. It’s not just the blatant, outward racism that we saw happening in Charlottesville this past weekend, but the aggressions we see every day: by calling someone an “angry Black woman,” by making a racist joke and saying it’s ok “because it’s just a joke and it’s funny” (it’s not funny, you’re an asshole), or women paid less than a man for the same job because you’re Black, Latinx or Native woman. It’s not ok. It’s not right. And we cannot accept or tolerate it.
I am a very privileged person- I am white, I am English speaking, I am able, and I get (paid) time off to celebrate the holidays. I know that I have had a leg up and that so many other Americans do not have. I also have a voice and a network- we all do- and it’s important to stand up for what’s right, elevate other voices and stand up to hate and the racism, intolerance, and violence we see every day. I am grateful to have friends and colleagues who are Black, Latinx, and from other backgrounds who I can learn from, listen to and help me understand how it affects them and how I can help. I am incredibly grateful for their friendship and it’s disgusting that these brilliant women do not have the same advantages or perceptions as others, just because of the color of their skin.
So, how can everyone help? Here are some ways that you can help fight hate and intolerance, right now:
Don’t let it slide and call it out.
It’s easy to just pretend that your uncle didn’t just make that comment, a colleague used “that word” or a friend didn’t just make a super racist joke. Call it out, even if it is uncomfortable. If it’s a work situation, talk to your manager about it or report it to HR if you are unable to approach the person directly. At the next family BBQ, let your uncle know that his racist joke is in fact, not funny but racist.
By being neutral, we align ourselves and support this type of disgusting behavior and hateful rhetoric.
Put your money where your mouth is.
Donate to groups fighting the good fight—the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Boys & Girls Club are all great organizations that fight for the rights of the most vulnerable people. Make sure to research your local chapters—they need your support too, as a volunteer or donor.
Keep learning and supporting people of color.
I have been seeing many of my friends and people I follow on social of color post that they really appreciate it when their friends check in with them when awful things like this happen. Of course, every person is different and asks for support in a different way, but a simple text, note or email never hurts.
Read articles and books, listen to podcasts, and watch shows about or written by people of color (I am currently obsessed with Insecure). Learn about experiences outside of your own, ask your friends about their culture or experience and listen. You don’t need to relate everything to your own life or experience. Never stop learning and listening.
RUN FOR OFFICE and support politicians who stand up to hate.
We need representation from more women on both sides of the aisle. Can’t run? Donate, volunteer and support female (and male) candidates who speak out against racism, hate, and intolerance. Your vote and your voice matters.
In Lady Project, we often have opportunities to hire or recommend one another—continue to do that—and support women of color (and please, do not try to talk them down on their prices—value their worth and their expertise) grow their business or connect them with people who can.
At Lady Project, we celebrate women of all backgrounds and races and professions every single day and we have no patience for intolerance, racism or hate. We will continue to stand up for what is right and support every woman.