‘Racism and fascism live side-by-side in our America’
Submitted by John Bailey
To the Editor:
The Hamilton Area Anti Racism Coalition would like to thank the Hamilton community for its overwhelming support for the anti-racism events recently held on the village green. Turnout was amazing. We stood, marched and observed silence with the nation.
In just one week in Hamilton, we had three different events, organized by different groups, which were all highly attended. But what is next? Coming out to an event is just a start.
We all seem to want change. Not just change on the surface with a few minor “tweaks” to the police handbook, but real change. Our good intentions will not bring the changes needed. Just being non-racist is not enough. We need to be actively anti-racist. To be anti-racist we need to shut down racist jokes; we need to call out our family and friends on their racism; we need to have uncomfortable conversations; we need to own our part in a racist society.
If we recognize the racism that is built into our society and do nothing to change it, we are complicit in it. Fixing this racism will require addressing the systemic racism we all support, knowingly or unknowingly. It is built into the very building blocks of American society and invisible to many of us. It occurs in our most fundamental structures. These include where you live, what kind of education you and your children are able to receive, how your family has (or hasn’t) acquired wealth, what quality of healthcare you can access, how likely it is for you to face violent and deadly policing (Black Americans account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but are killed by police at about two-and-a-half times the rate of whites), how the criminal justice system treats you, your access to voting, whether the stores at which you shop have bandages that match your skin color, shampoos that work for your hair or dolls that look like your children and much more. We must work to repair these unjust systems.
There are NOT “good people on both sides.” Racism and fascism live side-by-side in our America right now, and it is time for white people to stand up and not only say something, but do something.
As a white person who first hears the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” you could be taken aback, as many of us were. What we don’t realize when we have this reaction is that all lives can’t matter until Black lives do. The Black Lives Matter movement does not mean that other lives are unimportant, it is asking that Black people are treated as human beings, that Black lives matter, too. We must realize that when any group is treated unjustly, if we don’t speak out, we are all complicit and all damaged by the injustice. Silence is compliance. White people are not unharmed by racism; racism destroys our humanity.
“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” Ijeoma Oluo
HAARC is a group of Hamilton area residents who aim to disrupt white supremacy and build an equitable and just community through dialogue, action and education. Seeking guidance and inspiration from generations of activists, we respond to the call from communities of color to do anti-racism work with white people. By bringing awareness to all forms of racism in our daily lives and in larger social, economic, and political systems, we seek to be agents of change who help heal the damage that white privilege does to everyone. This work requires confronting all forms of oppression that reinforce and sustain each other, including racism, classism, sexism, ableism, homophobia and xenophobia.
We invite you to join us.
Visit The Hamilton Area Anti Racism Coalition facebook page or email us at Hamiltonaarc@gmail.com to sign up for our emails about our events. We are holding our monthly bookclub and potluck virtually. We will be holding a workshop July 19 led by Patrick Johnson.
HAARC members John Bailey, Cris Amann, Liz Crofut, Marian Abowitz and Julie Carlson.