The greatest tragedy of all regarding Charlottesville will be if the masses fail to recognize that those who showed up to spew hate were simply carriers of the American virus. The most egregious of all offenses will be for white Americans to condemn the acts of violence that took place over the weekend yet not speak out against the acts of violence that take place every day in our daily lives across this nation. The most insidious of all tragedies will be for white Americans to see racism as a problem that exists only among a radical few, to distance themselves with a self-righteousness around how never in a million years would they throw up a Nazi salute, wear a white hood or chant loud and proud on the streets about white supremacy.
The American virus of racism manifests itself in many forms. It shows up in who we are more concerned about walking behind us on a dark street late at night. It shows up in judgments and associations made when we see a typically black or brown name on a job application rather than a typically white name. It shows up in what is deemed professional and unprofessional language and attire. It shows up in the numbers of people who are incarcerated in this country. It pervades our education, health care, criminal justice, banking and housing systems. It shows up everywhere, and just because it may manifest in a subtler form than hundreds of white torch bearers blatantly blasting racial epithets, it is no less harmful and no less a symptom of the American virus that affects us all.
It is easy for us to get caught up in and blinded by the smoke. It is easy to point to the perpetrators of hate speech and violence who showed up on Charlottesville over the weekend and see them as the problem. It is easy to miss the reality that racism is the great American virus that affects us all and infects individuals, groups, communities and institutions across the nation. I caution all of us to not get blinded by the smoke. I caution all of us to not lose sight of the virus as we focus on the most obvious symptoms and carriers of it.
Racism is an American problem, perhaps THE American problem. It is a problem that belongs to all of us, it is a problem that we all play a part in. Racism in America is a deep-rooted virus that is far bigger and has been around far longer than any of the individuals or groups alive today who have been infected by it.
It is imperative that we do not let the greatest Charlottesville tragedy of all take place. It has long been time for the masses to wake up, recognize and finally address the American virus of racism. For white Americans, our silence in the face of the racism must end. To be silent is to be just as if not more harmful than those who bore torches, donned white hoods, chanted racial epithets and committed acts of physical violence. The virus breeds in our silence and multiplies in our ignorance of its true nature. In allowing that to continue, we would certainly see the greatest tragedy of all.