In response to the violence at Charlottesville, other cities have held vigils and rallies to speak against white supremacy and show support and solidarity for people who have been targeted. Ann Arbor, my city, held a vigil the day after the violence.
Today, I invite you to watch this speech by Dr. Austin McCoy. Dr. McCoy is a scholar, historian, and activist in Ann Arbor, and he shared words of real challenge on Sunday night. When it comes to racism and white supremacy, we often speak out against hatred. Without question, racism and white supremacy are frequently hate-filled. But when we name the problem solely as a particular emotion — certainly, a dangerous one — we might shield ourselves from having to question and oppose the realities which reveal white supremacy to exist at the foundation of many of our institutions. We might protect ourselves from recognizing the ways that white supremacy is internalized and socialized inside ourselves.
Dr. McCoy’s speech is the first ten minutes of this video. Have a watch, and if possible, please watch the speeches that follow too, also by black residents in Southeast Michigan. In the first speech, Dr. McCoy reminds us that when it comes to white supremacy, any of us can do the bare minimum, showing up at a vigil to call out actual Nazis. But what will we do beyond this? How will we recognize the lies of white supremacy that we carry inside ourselves? How will we act to change the structures and institutions that give white supremacy its primary platform?
Have a watch.