Medium, April 17, 2018: Dear white neighbor,
This Saturday there’s a Nazi Rally coming to Newnan, right down the street from where we live. To better understand how this could happen in our own back yard, I started doing some research about the heritage and culture of this place and wanted to share some of those findings with you. When you hear these people in the coming days tell you that they’re celebrating their “heritage” I want us all to best understand what that means.
If you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll ask for a glass of milk. If white supremacists see that your community stays mostly silent on things like this, they’ll use it as an excuse to throw a party in your streets. What fuels them is our silence, not at them on the day that they rally (that fuels them) but on the day to day actions of this community by tolerating their message under the disguise of “cultural heritage.”
If there were ever a need for NIMBY’s now is the time. I don’t think we get to show up in Newnan on Saturday and say “we showed up for the counter-protest,” pat ourselves on the back and go home. This is a larger thing, and a much larger responsibility. And that responsibility is largely ours.
The people we are waiting to fix it are us. The reason this keeps happening is because you and I haven’t left our bubble of comfort, had the difficult conversations with ourselves and our neighbors about our own actions and our own blissful ignorance of our neighbors, both black and white, living in poverty. Black people in this region are kept poor through the overt racism of poor whites and the wealthy’s ability to insulate themselves from the poor and ignore the problem to maintain their innocence.