What to Read, Watch & Think About in the Wake of Charlottesville

Like so many others, I’m still processing the events in Charlottesville which,

…became the site of an extended white-supremacist revival meeting. On Friday night, like a nightmarish graduation procession, a few hundred white supremacists marched with torches down the long green lawn that leads to the Rotunda, the University of Virginia’s signature building. They chanted Nazi slogans in the open, undisguised, unafraid of being photographed, proud to be seen. – Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker  

And with Trump’s retractive remarks yesterday afternoon — that counter-protestors deserve an equal amount of blame for the violence — it remains strikingly evident that there is so. much. work. to. be. done. pewsocialmedia

Under no circumstances can or should the people who responded to the Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the alt-right protestors be placed in the same category or held with the same accountability.

A recent Pew study found that 62% of Americans get their news from their social media platforms and 18% do so often, with Facebook leading the pack. I’ll be honest — I’m very often one of those people. Facebook isn’t where I get all of my news, but it is where I get the most diverse sources of information and opinion, many of which are listed below. I look to my particular Facebook community to post smart pieces with a liberal bent, that offer critical perspectives on topics that I cannot always personally relate to based on my positionality, but care deeply and want to educate myself about. Recently, this has also included watching and reading news from sources that I would typically never engage with (i.e. Fox News, Breitbart, etc.). Leading up to the election, I would occasionally turn on Fox News and view it as entertainment; now, months later, I try to watch Fox a few times a week in attempts to understand how and where other people are getting their information. I now regard doing this as part of my responsibility to be an informed citizen, to think about ways to reach people who are getting their news from problematic, intolerant and fundamentally flawed sources. Bits and pieces of news and propaganda, such as this NRA ad below, are important to know about. This is what we’re up against.

Right before the 2016 election, I stumbled across a piece from the Wall Street Journal called “Blue Feed, Red Feed,” which is updated hourly.

We built this presentation because it’s hard to see these opposing views side by side. Facebook users who are curious about opposing viewpoints may be apprehensive about recording a like for a particular news source—an action which may be seen by other friends. (You can make likes private in Facebook user settings.) This tool gives people anywhere on the political spectrum the ability to see current discussions about newsworthy topics from both very conservative and very liberal viewpoints.

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screenshot of topic “President Trump” on WSJ’s “Blue Feed, Red Feed”

In the last year, I’m finding it less important to be soapbox-y on this platform and more important to [attempt to] provide curated sets of information from sources that may be off your radar, but are credible, intelligent, and necessary, in my opinion.

Below I’ve loosely curated a set of texts that provide perspectives on whiteness, white supremacy in our country, and most importantly, what you can do in the wake of Charlottesville. I’m particularly concerned about encouraging educators to talk about these events in the coming weeks as they begin the new school year. If you’re nervous or unsure, that’s okay, but don’t linger in that place of fear. Be the educator helping to interrupt the mainstream narratives. Don’t just talk to your students, listen to them, ask them how they’re feeling, what’s on their minds, what they want to do about this. Give young people a space and opportunity to vent and express themselves, I think you’ll be amazed.

I’ll continue to update this list as I come across further resources, but I hope you find this useful as a starting place:

Those neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville believe that White people are better than Black people, Asian people, Latinos, Native Americans. They believe that citizens are better than undocumented people, more worthy of protection and human rights. They believe Christians are more right—and more worthy of respect and life—than Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and atheists. They believe men are better than women. They believe heterosexual people are more deserving of their humanity and civil rights, while gay and lesbian people should be content to be second class citizens, vulnerable to violence. They believe cisgender people are the only kind of people, while transgender people, genderqueer, intersex and gender nonconforming people should not exist, and certainly should not be given safety or protection under the law. They are willing to march in the streets to defend this ideology. But the ideology is not new. Even as we’ve made small gains over time, it is still foundational to our institutions. Vulnerability and violence are not new to the groups targeted by these ideologies. And while many of us who benefit from these ideologies—including many White people—don’t espouse this ideology outright, certainly wouldn’t fight for it—or march through the streets holding Tiki torches for it—we are so accustomed to it in the places where we live and work, that we don’t even recognize it as the same fundamental ideology. And meanwhile, it is threatening to destroy everything—our stated ideals, our identities, our peers, colleagues, friends and family members. – Ali Michael, The Huffington Post

During Trump’s remarks yesterday, he flippantly and rhetorically stated, “They were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee…This week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” Trump’s constant reduction of ideas and issues is not only problematic, it’s dangerous.

These are uncertain times, but I am also undeniably certain that now is the time to be educating yourself, to be speaking out, to commit to making differences in your community. Action looks different for everyone. If you are uncomfortable joining a protest in person, participate in a Twitter chat; if you don’t want to post your political opinions on social media, go out of your way to read news coverage from multiple sources and perspectives. But doing nothing is not an option.

Keep reading. Keep talking. Keep asking questions. And stay woke.

* cross-posted on The Huffington Post

Additional resources: